by John Tallodi
The Mini Cooper Convertible takes the subcompact category and injects it with a good dose of style and that often-missing fun factor. Sharing its underpinnings with the rest of the hardtop range, the convertible also offers a range of customizations and adds limitless headroom to the package. It continues into 2017 without any major changes.
The bespoke dials, buttons and switchgear all give the Mini a special feel compared to the bland subcompact interiors you usually get. Materials are also a level above this category although once you have ticked a few of the options in the catalogue the pricing also moves up a notch.
The narrow cabin does mean you sit rather close to your passengers but there are a number of door pockets, cup holders and oddments storage spaces.
The front seats are comfortable enough for most although rear passengers will have severely restricted leg room and headroom is also in short supply when the fabric roof is up. The back seats are best reserved for shopping bags as the trunk is predictably small too.
Despite weighing a fair bit more than the hardtop, the convertible Mini still offers the same sharp handling and zippy driving characteristics. The ride still tends to be a bit too firm on bumpy road surfaces but it does make for a planted feel around tight bends and this little Mini is great in the tight confines of the city too.
Standard wheels are 15-inch units, if you upgrade to the 18-inch alloys be prepared for a much harder ride, the available dynamic damper control may be worth a look.
The Mini is quite capable on longer trips too although road and wind noise do filter through to the cabin on the highway despite a snug fitting power fabric roof.
The base Cooper Convertible is fitted with a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine which produces 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. A standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission send the power to the front wheels.
The additional weight of the Convertible means that the 0-60 mph time is down on the hardtop version, taking 8.3-seconds (8.2 for the automatic) to complete. This is still competitive for the segment and the Mini feels quite capable in the cut and thrust of city driving, it does run out of steam at higher speeds but for those wanting more performance, the Cooper S and JCW derivatives are always an option.
What the base Cooper convertible is good at is offering great gas mileage. The manual transmission is rated at 32mpg combined while the automatic gets 30mpg.
Standard specification levels are good with some useful packages available too. Although with the Mini range the vast range of customizable interior and exterior options is where you will be spending the majority of your money.
Notable standard features include a rearview camera and parking sensors, 6.5-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility as well as heated mirrors, ambient lighting and a center armrest.
Useful packages such as the Technology Package include a parking assistant and navigation system, the Sport Package offers LED headlamps, sport seats a wheel upgrade and dynamic damper control while the Premium Package adds a convertible wind deflector, heated front seats, comfort access and upgraded audio system.
A Fully Loaded Package combines the whole lot and two JCW exterior and interior packages add a sporty look to your Mini with numerous styling upgrades.
Comfort access, parking assistant and a Harman Kardon audio system are also available as are a large range of exterior paint colors and schemes, alloy wheel designs and interior trim options.
The Mini has always offered a sharp driving experience in a desirable retro-styled package, the convertible model offers an additional dimension to the experience without compromising too much on the performance levels. Rear space and cargo capacity is seriously compromised so consider the back seats as additional storage space.
The Mazda MX-5 may be a bit more driver focused and the Fiat 500 even more cutesy but the Mini Convertible neatly combines both of their traits into a desirable package.