The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The latest MINI Convertible is more refined, better to drive than ever before and comes with a stiffer chassis. In entry-level One form, it’s relatively affordable too.
Reasons to buy:
- Brilliant handling
- Retro looks
- Low running costs
How good does it look?
It’s instantly recognisable as a MINI Convertible. Don’t be fooled by the similarity to its predecessor though, as the majority of modifications have taken place under the skin. The most obvious change is 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 207CC. We think the MINI Convertible offers a more complete, and open, experience than the Fiat and is far more stylish than the 207.
What's the interior like?
Inside, very few cars have as much character and classless charm as the MINI. The dinner plate-sized speedometer, column-mounted rev-counter and rocker switches on the centre console add to its unique look. Build quality is excellent, but some aspects aren’t up to the £15,500+ price tag. Sadly, its chic look is betrayed by some dated, badly positioned switchgear. Also, the optional “openometer” is nothing but a gimmick.
How practical is it?
There’s no shortage of head and leg room in the front, so tall drivers can get comfy. Sadly, the rear seats are only suitable for children. The boot can accommodate just 125 litres with the rear seats up, though they fold down to add space. The fold-down boot makes loading and unloading a problem that the Fiat and Peugeot simply don’t have. The first generation MINI Convertible was criticised for poor rear visibility thanks to ungainly rear rollover hoops – this version uses a single bar which is hidden until it’s needed and, as such, visibility is much improved.
What's it like to drive?
MINIs are known for their sharp handling and a missing roof isn’t a disadvantage. It steers excellently as well. Thanks to the new generation’s added stiffness it feels smoother while cornering, and more reassuring over bumpy roads. Again, the Fiat 500C and Peugeot 207CC are nothing like as accomplished. 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?
Being the entry-level MINI convertible, the One has a relatively meagre 98bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine. It comes with either a manual or an automatic gearbox, the latter not ideal for such a low-powered engine. As a consequence it hits 62mph in 11.3 seconds if you change yourself or a sluggish 13.3 seconds if you let it change for you. The manual option is just slower than a 500C, but easily trumps the Peugeot 207CC’s 12.6 seconds. If you push the engine hard you’ll reach its 112/108mph top speed (where legal). But you will have to work for it.
How much will it cost me?
As we’ve come to expect from MINI – the One Convertible is not cheap to buy. A base model will set you back at least £15,800. After you’ve attacked the options list you can expect a larger bill. MINI’s great TLC pack means that for a one-off fee your car will be serviced for up to eight years at no extra cost. Being heavier than its hatch cousin, it doesn’t match its high mpg figures – but it comes close with 49.6mpg on the combined cycle. Emitting 133g/km CO2 puts it into VED band E, so expect to pay £110 a year.
How reliable is it?
Being a miniature BMW the second-generation MINI is pretty reliable. Starter motor and speaker issues have been known, but MINI dealers are very good at looking after their customers. As a result, most glitches should be fixed under warranty.
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?
Being the base model you shouldn’t expect too much. CD player (with aux in), electric windows and central locking are pretty much it. Salt and Pepper options packs add more kit at a price.
It’s an economical, good looking, stylish car that will hold its value well. If you want modestly powered fun this is the car to go for.