- Punchy performance
- Modern design
- Packed with technology
- Spacious for a convertible
It may now be in its third generation, but the current MINI Convertible simply guarantees miles of smiles.
It is the biggest and most spacious model ever but, more importantly, it is still fabulous to drive – especially with the roof down. And there were no issues getting in or out of the convertible either.
In the Exclusive trim that we drove, this MINI model really does offer it all.
Engines and Performance
The MINI Convertible comes in three versions – Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works. The Cooper S uses a 2-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, producing an ample 176bhp. It comes with either a 6-speed manual, or an automatic transmission.
The most important thing of all, is that, despite some extra weight from the strengthening needed to reinforce the convertible version, the MINI is still an absolute hoot to drive. It has lost none of its special ‘go-kart’ feeling, which in the Cooper S, is aided by its clever electronic slip differential.
It has well-weighted steering, a precise, grippy chassis, slick automatic gear changes – flappy paddles are also available for some manual input – and it is remarkably agile around corners, especially if you put it in Sport mode.
Furthermore, it is nice and easy around town and, despite a slightly firm suspension, it is a good motorway cruiser; much quieter than you would imagine too. You can also choose the no cost wind deflector option if you want to drive with the roof down and receive less buffeting. Easily removable, it is remarkably adept at what it does.
Design and Practicality
As for trims, there are Classic or Exclusive guises plus a special edition Resolute model. As well as choosing your model, there are a variety of option packs designed to tempt you to open your wallet a little further.
As it is bigger than before, there is plenty of room for two upfront. In the rear, it can be a bit of a squeeze for taller passengers, but it is still more than manageable.
The driver's seat is comfortable and there is a decent range of adjustment, though the lever that alters the angle of the backrest takes some getting used to.
Obviously, the boot space takes a hit with the roof down, dropping from 215 litres to 150 litres, however, if you do need some more boot space, you can split the rear seats 50/50 and fold them down.
Equipment and Technology
MINI vehicles are not exactly cheap runabouts anymore, and, as hinted at above, the interior of the latest is properly premium. Nearly everything you touch is designed to feel high-end, while the dominating 8.8-inch infotainment screen works really well. This comes with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and a USB socket.
If you do not like screens, it can be operated using a rotary controller by the gear lever. There are also several toggle switches for important functions such as air conditioning.
As standard, the Cooper S Convertible comes with an ‘Exclusive Pack’ and a ‘Convertible Pack’. The car I was driving also featured a Premium Plus Pack with 20 extras including a rear-view camera, front heated seats, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors and a top-notch Harman Kardon surround sound music system.
There is also an automatic parking function, wireless phone charging system and a Driving Mode system that lets you select between fairly self-explanatory Sport, Mid and Green settings.
The Cooper S is certainly in the sweet spot for drivers who like to ‘drive’. There is decent performance and a fine soundtrack. But, spend much of the time in Sport and those MPG figures will suffer. In just over 300 miles, I managed to return 38.2mpg, but this is still tempting enough to hit the Sport mode more often than not.
And the Exclusive trim offers that little bit extra compared to the entry-level Classic model, without the higher price tag of the Resolute edition or John Cooper Works model.