Distinctive looks that are clearly MINI include the twin tailpipes, pronounced diffuser in the rear bumper and high bonnet. Top notch features include air conditioning and a canvas roof, which closes and opens in an instant.
The goodStunning good looks and full of character
The badPoor rear visibility with the roof down
MINI Cooper Convertible (2016)
Mix the allure of open-top driving with the thrills of MINI’s go-kart style dynamism and the result is the sensational third generation MINI Cooper Convertible.
The new model is slightly larger than its predecessor which equates to extra space inside, and the car is absolutely packed to bursting with upmarket and premium styling traits with plenty of exciting techno treats to be explored.
The two-door model is instantly recognisable with distinctive MINI characteristics throughout and it looks gorgeous from every approach with its retro-style grille, black bonnet stripes, black mirror caps, LED headlights and smart 16-inch alloys.
Step inside and the vehicle’s premium build quality really shines through with features such as the ever-present MINI round instrumentation with colour rims that alter to match the driving mode. Other techno treats include part-leather supportive sports seats, a sports steering wheel, sat nav, a pitch perfect sound system, automatic air conditioning, all the usual toggle-style switches, plus the test car boasted a MINI Excitement Pack that introduces lots of analysis and feedback about your driving style.
Some cars seem to lose their charm with a roof lowered but that’s certainly not the case with the MINI. The folding roof looks fabulous in its concertinaed effect at the rear of the car and this fully-electric cloth hood can be raised or lowered in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 19mph. And another feature noticeable by their absence are the safety roll bars which are now tucked away behind the seats to give the vehicle a very clean appearance, but are fully operational in an instant should they be needed.
Although the MINI Convertible does have rear seats, in reality they are too small for adults even with the front seats pushed forward. That said, a couple of small children would sit comfortably or the space can be quite convenient for dumping coats and bags etc. The boot is pretty compact with a capacity of 215 litres (reduced to 160 litres with the roof down) and there are numerous storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin too. One clever feature on the new MINI is the ‘easy load’ function. When the roof is raised, two locking handles allow the roof frame to be raised higher and with a through-loading facility, the car can easily accommodate skis, which simply adds to its sporty magnetism.
The test car was powered by a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder, 136bhp petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.8 seconds, maxes out at 129mph, delivers combined fuel efficiency of 57.6mpg with carbon emissions of 114g/km.
In and around town the MINI is as nimble and agile as ever and, with the roof lowered, it is guaranteed to turn heads from envious bystanders. Then out on the open road and country lanes that go-kart performance and exhilarating handling prowess is instantly evident especially as you progress through the driving modes from Green to Mid to Sport which livens up the responses and dynamics.
The road-holding is super assured and that means any tight bends can be attacked with total confidence … at pace. Acceleration through the gears is both smooth and responsive and there is a constant supply of power on tap delivering all the bite you might need to overtake at short notice.
In fact after clocking up a couple of hundred miles, the only real issue of concern was the rear visibility with the roof down. It is virtually non-existent thanks to the folded hood so expect to see lots of treetops and that’s all!
But that aside, the MINI Convertible is an absolute dream to drive. It’s a well thought-out and very clever car with lots of smart highlights that you will continue to discover along the way. One such feature will only be noticeable after dark. When you approach the car at night and unlock the doors, you will be greeted with fabulous MINI emblem puddle lights. It certainly brought a smile to my face.
The MINI Convertible really is in a league of its own and there are no true rivals that offer such a classy all-round package. And although we may not have the most reliable of weather patterns these days, for £18,475 (£24,120 with options) the MINI Convertible certainly gives you the opportunity to make the most of every minute of sunshine on offer.
Mini Cooper S Sidewalk Convertible
I don’t think any other vehicle has moved so effectively with the times than the Mini brand.
It still maintains its fun factor and still reminds me of that fabulous sitcom Butterflies every time I see one with a Union Jack design on its roof, but somehow the Mini has dragged itself into the 21st Century with ease.
Despite staying true to their roots, new models are spacious, have fabulous creature comforts and deliver an edge-of-the-seat drive.
The model supplied for my test drive even boasted a roof that could be lowered in seconds with the flick of a switch – now that’s impressive especially with the unpredictable changing weather we are subjected to these days.
Inside the Mini Sidewalk the level of luxury and quality features is immediately apparent with leather seats, a multi-functional sport steering wheel – also in two-tone leather and an on-board computer.
It has to be said the ride was not necessarily the smoothest I’ve ever had, but that’s down to the “sport” factor on this vehicle and in a strange sort of way, actually adds to the enjoyment.
But what it does possess is an awesome road-hugging drive that can take on any challenge in its path. The more I threw this vehicle about, the more it seemed to relish the moment… and so did I.
The safety spec on the Mini is excellent too with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, run-flat tyres, numerous airbags and plenty more.
The boot area on the Mini is not fabulous, but hey, what are back seats for anyway!
I have to confess that initially I found the waves from other Mini drivers a little irritating, but after a week behind the wheel of my Mini, I had joined that little gang and was waving along back at them.
All in all, unlike many other models that age gracefully and then fizzle out, the Mini has reinvented itself time and time again and is constantly looking to the future for improvements in refinement, performance, but above all, fun.