Test Drive: Mini Cooper Convertible
PUBLISHED: 12:46 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:46 05 September 2016
Stuart G.W. Price www.S-P.tv
Former MINI Convertible owner Andy Russell appreciates the big advances of the all-new model
It wasn’t until I drove the new MINI Convertible that I realised how much I missed the one my wife and I bought after years of dutifully ferrying our sons about. We wanted a small soft-top that could occasionally seat four, wouldn’t break the bank and be fun – qualities that have made it the UK’s best-selling convertible and the UK its largest world market. We had three great years - summer or winter, roof down or up – despite it being a bit compromised when it came to space. Now MINI has addressed that with the new third-generation convertible – bigger, better, easier to live with.
So, what’s different?:
Longer and wider, with more distance between the front and back wheels, this new convertible has more room, more comfort and is better to drive.
New all-turbo engines improve driveability and environmental performance and the whole package feels more grown-up.
The re-thought fascia, with a speedo and rev counter in front of the driver, the trademark central circular display now for infotainment and electric window switches moved to the doors retains the retro look but is more user-friendly.
Under the bonnet:
Petrol power suits the Convertible, with three to choose from - 136hp 1.5-litre Cooper, 192hp 2.0-litre Cooper S and 231hp version in the latest John Cooper Works model – and a 116hp 1.5-litre diesel. The Cooper’s 1.5-litre turbo petrol is a cracker – flexible at low engine speeds and revving freely and happily for peppy performance.
How it drives:
Our second-generation model was fun to drive but squeaks and creaks highlighted body flex. The new model replaces shake, rattle and roll with smooth, rigid and refined. The MINI has grown up, without losing its cheeky character.
Extra bracing and strengthening to make up for the lack of a rigid roof mean the Convertible is 100kg heavier than the three-door hatch so, while still entertaining and engaging through the twists and turns, it’s not quite as agile.
Space and practicality:
Bigger on the outside means bigger inside, with more adjustment for the front seats so it’s easier to get to the two individual rear seats. Passengers benefit from more shoulder, elbow and knee room but it’s still tight in the back, so best suited to children or short hops for adults.
The boot has grown 25pc to 215 litres with the roof closed - 160 litres with it folded down - but access is still awkward. Levers release the back of the soft-top so it can be raised to ease loading, and the floor is not flat so you need to pack carefully.
A roof that takes 18 seconds to raise or lower, and at up to 18mph, is ideal for our unpredictable weather and the all-electric action is much quieter and smoother. You can even have a Union flag design woven into the fabric roof while integrated rollover protection, which can extend automatically in milliseconds, creates cleaner lines with the roof down.
MINI Cooper Convertible
Price: £18,475 (automatic £19,745)
Engine: 1,499cc, 136hp, three-cylinder turbo petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 8.8 seconds; top speed 129mph (8.7 seconds, 128mph)
Miles per gallon: 55.4mpg combined (53.3mpg)
CO2 emissions: 114g/km (119g/km)
Will it fit in the garage? Length 3,821 to 3,874mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,727mm; height 1,415mm