Mini Convertible Review

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Mini Convertible Quick Review

7.2
This is the score given by Car & Driving
  • 8 Depreciation
  • 8 Economy
  • 8 Build
  • 8 Handling
  • 8 Performance
  • 7 Insurance
  • 7 Equipment
  • 7 Comfort
  • 6 Value
  • 6 Styling
  • 6 Space

Short Review

It's pretty hard to take exception to MINI's MK3 model Convertible. It delivers surprising space for passengers and luggage, a stylish roadway demeanour and a customisable fabric roof. This revised version has been usefully updated with fresh technology, smarter connectivity, standard-fit front and rear LED lights across the range and an advanced dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As before, buyers can pick petrol, diesel and performance versions.

Mini Convertible LeaseFetcher Review

Verdict

The MINI Convertible takes the wildly successful, three-door MINI Hatch, whips off the top and replaces it with a fully electric folding roof.

The vast majority of the design updates in the MINI Hatch (now into its third generation) have also found their way to the convertible, most notably the Union Jack tail lights!

As a convertible, it is heavier than the hatch and, therefore, a bit slower and noisier on the road. To compensate for the added weight, they’ve tightened up the suspension to create a firmer ride, which takes a bit of getting used to if you're coming from the MINI Hatch.

While practicality probably isn’t on the top of your list when you’re buying a convertible MINI, it’s surprisingly easy to live with and you don’t lose too much space with the folding fabric roof.

Style

The MINI convertible looks more or less identical to the MINI Hatch. The designers clearly went for the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. If you look hard enough, you might find the odd change like the Union Jack overlay on the rear headlights and new LED headlights. But you’d have to look pretty damn closely.

There’s a few optional extras on the style side of things like the optional roof spoiler, bonnet stripes and chrome panels. There’s also a handful of different wheel design choices, side mirror colour choices and probably a load more stuff that we just missed!

But apart from the subtle design tweaks and optional extras, there are no major changes to the chassis or other core components and I’ll let you decide if that’s careful or lazy design work.

MINI also offers 3D printed badges with your name on the car, which is kinda cool, I suppose (if that’s your thing).

Interior

Under BMW’s ownership, MINIs have always had good interiors and the current version is no different. The plastics are premium, the dials precise and the design is suitably high-end.

The dash features the trademark circular 6.5-inch screen with MINI Connected Service, which is actually a modified version of BMW iDrive. While the centre screen looks cute, it’s also very practical and fluid in terms of functionality and borrows all the best bits of BMW’s iDrive.

Okay, enough of the preamble. It’s time to talk about the most important thing: the roof. This is, after all, a convertible we’re talking about.

The MINI has a fully electric, fabric roof that folds flat in just 18 seconds. And, if you’re driving under 18 mph, you don’t even have to slow down to drop the roof! With the roof up, you’ll not notice much difference from the normal hatchback. It looks and feels secure, and there’s not a huge increase in road or wind noise — although that's not saying much!

Back in the cabin, you’ve got a DAB radio and Bluetooth as standard. Working via the iDrive system, services like Spotify have their own interface in the centre dash, which can be used rather than the app on your phone.

The MINI Connected service lets you use natural language to interact with the infotainment system and MINI FindMate allows you to tag a few items like keys to a Bluetooth tag, which, in turn, helps track the item in case you lose them.

So, all in all, the convertible bit gets a big thumbs up!

Driving

The MINI comes in four main models: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and Cooper S 25th Anniversary Edition.

The Cooper comes with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and the other three have a larger 2.0-litre petrol engine. The tuning of these is different in various models, leading to varying power outputs. Fuel economy is decent and hovers around 40 mpg in real world conditions.

All engines are available with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, with the John Cooper Works trim offering an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The default automatic transmission is based on seven-speed double clutch with a sport mode for Cooper S trim. The sport mode allows you to shift to next gear while the previous one is still active, which improves acceleration and performance. The automatic enables to get more economy from the engines through precise shifting.

The MINI has always been fun to drive and this one’s no different. You can choose between Sport and Green mode via a switch on the dash, which electronically tweaks the car’s performance between fun and sensible. There’s not a massive drop off in efficiency so I know people who just leave theirs set to Sport constantly.

Practicality

Interior space is limited — this is a convertible hatchback, after all — but there are some intelligent design choices to make it feel a bit bigger. A scattering of phone holders, cubby holes and decent sized pockets make it easy to squirrel stuff away, leaving the main storage areas free for bigger items.

While the front seats are spacious and comfortable, the same can’t be said for the rear seats, which are a bit squashed.

When the roof is down, boot space is just enough to accommodate two small suitcases. With it up, your boot space increases to about the level of any other hatchback. With the optional storage pack, you can get a storage net for the front passenger and an adjustable boot floor, which are both pretty handy additions.

Specification

As with BMWs, there are a huge number of different combinations of trims and options. Thankfully, a good bunch of stuff comes as standard on even the basic MINIs.

All cars, for example, come with roll over protection system as standard. This system deploys within a fraction of a second to provide head protection during rollover. Rear parking distance control and the a class-leading infotainment screen also come as standard standard.

Customisation options are pretty decent too. There’s a bunch of colour options for interiors, 3D printing of name badges at various points, different wheel design, Union Jack detailing on the dash, various colour schemes for armrests and so on and so on.

An optional MINI heads up display can be installed on the dashboard to provide navigation and other driving details. A rear mirror camera is provided to detect oncoming traffic and adjust the headlights accordingly. There’s also a parking assist that helps to guide you into parking spots and the rear view camera to improve rear visibility.

The infotainment system comes with Standard, MINI Connected Media, MINI Connected Navigation and MINI Connected Navigation Plus Packs, each one a little more feature-laden than the last.

With the last one, you get an 8.8” touch screen with navigation, real time traffic information, concierge services and a remote control app to control stuff like car usage notifications.

One of the nicest extras is the MINI driving assistant that tweaks your cruise control based on the upcoming obstacles. It’s like a slightly less intrusive version of Tesla’s system.

An interior light package is available as part of the MINI Excitement Pack to manage the mood inside the vehicle. It provides for welcome and reading lights that help to isolate you from the outside environment. There are also options to include a sports leather steering wheel and rain sensing wipers/headlights as part of the Pepper trim. There Chili trim also provides a sport mode, stylish alloys, sports seats and 18” wheels. To be honest, the options on the MINI are umpteen and can run into thousands of pounds.

The Storage Pack offers options to provide front passenger storage net and also provides for a level surface by raising the boot floor for easy loading of large items.

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