It’s official; the MINI convertible is the nation’s favourite soft-top, beating even the Mazda MX-5 to the top spot. Ginny Weeks tests the 2016 model to see what all the fuss is about.
What is it? The MINI convertible is the soft top 3-door version of the iconic hatchback. It’s available in entry-level Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and John Cooper Works editions. Here, we are testing one of the fastest versions – the 2.0 litre Cooper S.
First impressions? That classic MINI design has been streamlined for the new model with a slightly longer body length and striking oval light clusters to the front. The finish looks very smart.
What does it drive like? In a sea of boring car options the MINI go-kart feel is so refreshing; it’s cheeky, addictive and light hearted with real oomph behind it. The handling is solid and nimble and the manual gearbox is a joy to use. There are three driving modes: green, mid and sport. My favourite was mid mode which was a nice balance of comfortable suspension, easy handling and speed. Sport mode felt a bit jittery on the motorway for my liking – it’s much more suited to A-roads.
What about the roof? The soft top only takes 18 seconds to open and folds down on top of the boot area (a look you either love or hate). Even for a tall person like me I still felt nicely cocooned inside by the tall front windows. A really handy feature is that on colder days you can open the roof a little way so that it becomes a sunroof.
To allow for the convertible mechanism the boot is quite a bit smaller than the normal hatchback so this is worth considering if boot space is important to you. The back seats are also very snug and quite windy back there with the roof down – an area more suited to luggage than passengers I would say.
What’s the interior like? The new MINI interior has a much more premium feel than its predecessors, but it’s still plastic heavy in parts. The circular speedo is thankfully now in front of the driver and not in the middle of the dash as before. The dials are fun and colourful and very easy to use. The planted driving position feels great.
How’s the fuel consumption? Driving it enthusiastically I covered 350 miles before I had to fill up again. For a small tank that’s pretty impressive.
Options? Each MINI is made to order in the Oxford plant and the options list is endless. Designing your own is all part of the fun.
So the verdict? MINI’s are everywhere and for good reason; they combine fun driving with build quality and a stylish design. The convertible is a great option for those who want to feel the wind in their hair.
Why you’ll buy one? The drive, sense of fun, options
Why you won’t? Image, space, options can be pricey
MINI Cooper S Convertible
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo
Power: 189 bhp
Transmission: six speed manual
0-62 mph: 7.2 seconds
Economy: 48.7 mpg
20th December, 2016