The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The latest MINI convertible has a stiffer shell, improved refinement and is much more driver-friendly.
Reasons to buy:
- Poised handling
- Chic looks
- Cheap to run
How good does it look?
It looks similar to the last MINI Convertible, but don’t be fooled as the majority of modifications have taken place under the skin. Changes for the latest Convertible are most obvious at the back, as the boot hinges are now hidden, the rollover hoops are tidily-integrated and the hood design is neater. The MINI’s closest rivals are the Fiat 500C and Peugeot 207 CC. We think it offers a more open driving experience than the Fiat and is more stylish than the 207. The first-generation MINI Convertible was a hit with buyers because of its retro-inspired styling and funky image. This second-generation version follows the same formula with some key improvements.
What's the interior like?
Inside, there are few cars in this class that have as much character as the MINI. The plate-sized speedometer, the column-mounted rev-counter and the rocker switches on the central console are unique. Build quality is excellent, but some of the plastics aren’t up to the £17,000+ price tag. Also, it might look chic, but some of the dashboard switchgear is poorly placed and beginning to look a bit dated. The optional ‘openometer’ is a gimmick and not worth the extra cost.
How practical is it?
There’s plenty of head and leg room in the front, so tall drivers can get comfy. Sadly, the rear seats are tiny and not really suitable for adults. There is 125 litres of boot space and the rear seatbacks split and fold to increase practicality. The fold-down boot makes loading and unloading a problem and the Fiat and Peugeot are more practical. The last MINI Convertible was criticised for its poor rear visibility because of the ungainly rear rollover hoops, but this version uses a single bar which rises in the event of an accident and, as such, visibility is much improved.
What's it like to drive?
The MINI’s excellent chassis copes with the lack of a roof very well. The handling is entertaining and the steering quick and accurate. This car has a stiffer body than the last, as it’s more composed in corners with fewer vibrations over bumpy roads. Overall, even without the roof, it’s far more of a driver’s car than the Fiat or Peugeot and is almost as good to drive as the Hatchback and Clubman.
How powerful is it?
The Cooper Convertible is powered by a 120bhp, 1.6-litre petrol engine and it needs to be worked hard to give its best. Still, on the plus side it’s fitted with the same EfficientDynamics tweaks as the rest of the range and is capable of 50mpg on the combined cycle. With its 1,160kg kerb weight, the MINI falls between the lightweight Fiat’s 930kg and the heavier 1,485kg Peugeot. The MINI also triumphs in the 0-60mph race at 9.8 seconds, closely followed by the Fiat 500C with 11 seconds and the 1.6-litre 207 CC at 12.6 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
The MINI Cooper Convertible is not a cheap car to buy. However, with its 50mpg consumption and low 137g/km emissions, this MINI, like the rest of the range, should be cheap to run. If you choose the TLC pack when you buy, all servicing costs, including some replacements, are included for five or eight years depending on the pack chosen.
How reliable is it?
There have been no major reliability problems with the second-generation MINI, so there’s no reason why the Convertible MINI should give any issues.
How safe is it?
The MINI hatchback scored a maximum five stars for adult occupant protection in EuroNCAP crash tests, so there’s no doubt the Convertible should be almost as safe. Standard equipment includes pop-up rollover bars, electronic stability programme and six airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
Standard equipment includes air-con, electric windows, 15-inch alloy wheels and an alarm. One of the key MINI selling points is the ability to personalise your car and the MINI Cooper Convertible is available with a wide range of expensive options including a Chili pack, xenon headlamps and sports suspension.
Like any MINI, you’re buying into a chic, funky brand as well as a car. The Cooper Convertible is great fun to drive, but with the EfficientDynamics features such as start and stop, it should prove cheap to run too.