£18,500 - £35,000 Price range
43 - 74 MPG
The Mini Convertible is a small four-seater convertible that takes the Mini hatchback’s cute looks and adds a folding fabric soft-top for open-air driving. It has no real rivals at this premium price – although the cheaper Fiat 500C offers similarly stylish open-top driving – yet the Mini has been the biggest selling convertible in the UK since the first version went on sale in 2004. It only takes a quick drive to see why.
The Mini Convertible retains the regular hatchback’s trademark ‘go-kart feel’ – this means the car reacts quickly to a turn of the steering wheel and the result is that you feel like you can really throw it around – although it doesn’t turn quite as quickly as the hatchback. That said, all you need is to tackle your favourite roundabout in a Mini Convertible and you’ll be smitten – it really is that fun to drive.
The convertible gets the standard Mini’s nicely built and stylish interior, packed with chunky toggle switches and a sharp central screen that shows you all the media controls and the image from the standard-fit reversing camera. That camera’s a necessity because the Mini Convertible’s biggest flaw is that you can’t see a lot in the rear-view mirror when the roof is folded down and piled up on the rear of the car.
Mini has listened to customer feedback from owners of the previous convertible and increased interior space – there’s now 4cm more knee room for rear-seat passengers – but the actual seats are so cramped you’ll still only want to put luggage or young children back there for long journeys.
You have a choice of four petrol engines and two diesels, ranging from 102hp to 231hp in the range-topping John Cooper Works, which comes with stiffer suspension and will be the choice for hardcore driving enthusiasts who desire some roof-down action.
Mini is known for offering a host of expensive options on its cars and the convertible is no different. Many of the cars we tested on launch event had around £9,000 of extra kit, and annoyingly only a few essential day-to-day items such as the rear-view camera, air-con and a USB socket are included as standard.
If you’re quick, Mini is selling 150 limited edition Open 150 Convertible models from 5 March 2016. This model is only offered in strictly limited numbers and gets choice options and a Union flag graphic on its fabric roof.
Pick your ideal paint finish combination using our Mini Convertible colours guide.
The Mini Convertible gets the same high-quality interior as the Mini hatchback. The most important addition is a satisfyingly chunky toggle switch above the rear-view mirror which will fold the convertible roof back in 18 seconds at speeds up to 18mph.
Like every other Mini model the dashboard is dominated by a large circular binnacle that contains the screen for the reversing camera and sat-nav, if you’ve spent the extra money to have it in your car. This dash layout is divisive, but there’s no doubting the quality of the materials used throughout the cabin.
You’ll find some cheaper-feeling plastics lower down the doors, but the overall feeling is that this is a lovely car to spend some time in, and the simple act of starting the engine using the bright red toggle switch on the centre console adds some drama to everyday life.
There is a downside to the convertible roof – stick it up and you’re left with big blind spots when you go to glance over your shoulders when changing lanes. Mini knows this will be a pain when parking and that’s why the reversing camera is standard on all convertible models.
Mini Convertible passenger space
There’s plenty of space up front for the driver and passenger, and even with the roof down our 6’ 3” tall tester found the cabin plenty comfortably at an 80mph motorway cruise, without too much buffeting from the wind, thanks to the wind deflector fitted across the back seats. If you want to carry four people then you’ll have to take the deflector out and suffer more wind noise.
Rear-seat passengers get 4cm more legroom than in the old car, but the back pews are still only suitable for kids or small adults, especially if the driver is tall and needs to have his or her seat quite far back. Another small but noticeable improvement over the previous version of the car is the improved bolsters on the rear seats, which will keep back-seat passengers in place even if the driver gives it the beans.
Mini Convertible boot space
The Mini Convertible has 215 litres of boot space with the roof up and 160 litres with it folded down – that’s 25 per cent more room than in the previous version of the convertible, and with the roof down we had no problem fitting three carry-on suitcases in the boot. The boot opening is relatively small, but thanks to something Mini calls an easy loading function, you can make the boot opening slightly bigger when the roof is up.
If you’re only going to be carrying one passenger then there’s plenty of room on the back seats for extra shopping, and the wind deflector does a reasonable job of stopping anything blowing out of the car once you hit the motorways.
The good news is that chopping the roof off the Mini hasn’t ruined the driving experience – there are only a few niggles that most owners won’t be bothered by.
The most noticeable is that the steering column shakes a little over really bumpy roads and the rear-view mirror can tremble over potholes more than it would in the hatchback, but that’s about it in terms of drawbacks.
It’s happy to be driven quickly and on the car’s launch in Portugal we felt perfectly confident tackling twisty, narrow country roads at speed thanks to the car’s impressive grip and direct steering, which gives you confidence in corners.
Unless you’re a trackday fan who will be annoyed by the occasional shimmy from the steering wheel there’s no reason to discount the convertible if you want driving fun. Being able to hear the birds and smell the flowers as you accelerate out of corners adds an extra dimension to the driving fun that you just won’t get in the hardtop Mini.
The Mini Convertible is available with a choice of four engines, made up of three petrol engines and one diesel.
Mini convertible petrol engines
The least powerful petrol engine is the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5-litre unit in the Mini Cooper version of the convertible. It has 136hp and will scamper from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds. We actually preferred the sound it to the more powerful Cooper S version when we drove it on the launch, and it will zip to the redline on country roads without getting you to illegal speeds as quickly as the Cooper S.
It’ll return fuel economy of 57.6mpg with a manual gearbox and 55.4 with the impressively quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic gearbox. With CO2 emissions of 114 g/km (119 for the auto version) you’ll get a very reasonable annual road tax bill of £30 a year.
That Cooper S model gets a turbocharged four-cylinder, two-litre engine with 192hp that’ll get from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, or 7.1 with the automatic gearbox. The downside of the extra power is the official consumption figure of 46.3mpg, and CO2 emissions of 139g/km (131 for the auto), meaning it will cost £130 to tax each year – this figure jumps up £15 if you change the standard 16-inch wheels for 17- or 18-inch items.
The most powerful petrol engine is in the John Cooper Works (JCW) model, which gets the same 230hp four-cylinder turbo petrol unit as in the JCW hatchback. Expect 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and an annual tax bill of £180 if you plump for the manual gearbox, and £130 with the auto.
Mini convertible diesel engine
There is only one diesel option for UK buyers – the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder 116hp Cooper D, which is available with either a six-speed manual or an automatic gearbox.
The Cooper D’s 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds won’t set the world alight but is offset by impressive fuel economy of 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 100g/km, meaning that road tax is free.
The Mini Convertible hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the hatchback on which it’s based scored four out of five stars back in 2014.
It comes as standard with front and side airbags, Isofix child-seat mounting points in the passenger seat and the rear seats, as well as a bonnet that pops up if you hit a pedestrian to protect them from the car’s hard internals. Unlike the previous version of the Mini Convertible, the rollover hoops are now hidden behind the rear seats and only pops up if the car detects it is rolling over.
Optional kit that can improve safety includes a £450 head-up display which projects your speed onto a screen in your eyeline, active cruise control (£350) and a driving assistant pack, which – for £440 – adds automatic dipping headlights, speed limit info and automatic emergency braking.
Standard kit on all models includes the aforementioned rear-view camera, a USB socket to allow you to play music from your mobile devices, and a large infotainment screen that you operate using a dial on the centre console.
Mini Cooper Convertible
The Cooper is the entry-level Mini Convertible and includes DAB digital radio, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, and front foglights.
Mini Cooper D Convertible
The diesel version of the convertible gets some extra kit over the basic Cooper, including sat-nav, Bluetooth for wireless music streaming and adaptive cruise control. You also get a front armrest to make cruising more comfortable, although we often found it gets in the way when changing gear – although you can flip it out of the way if this is a problem.
Mini Cooper S Convertible
The Cooper S takes everything the Cooper D gets and adds white indicator lenses, sportier front seats to keep you in place during fast corners.
The Mini Convertible looks set to continue its reign as the most popular convertible in the UK, thanks to a formidable combination of eye-catching design, interior quality and a satisfying driving experience even if you don’t plump for the fastest models. It’s comfortable at a cruise and can seat four at a pinch, with room for a little luggage.
As an ownership proposition it’s hard to fault, and as soon as the sun pokes its head through the clouds you would immediately feel justified in picking the Convertible over the more common Mini hatchback. It’s a feelgood car that’s hard to fault for most buyers.