The Mini Convertible takes the standard hard-top’s plush cabin and adds infinite headroom – with the roof down, anyway – but sadly it’s even less practical and quite a lot more expensive…
The Mini Convertible takes the standard three-door Mini and adds a healthy dose of open-air thrills courtesy of its folding fabric roof. It might not be quite as practical as the three-door model – and it’s significantly more expensive, too – but few other small convertibles feel quite as plush.
The convertible version of this generation of Mini was launched in 2016, but was refreshed with new headlights and brake lights in 2018, while some new engines and a seven-speed automatic transmission were also added to the range.
Thankfully, its lovely interior hasn’t been messed with. Almost everything you touch and see – from the aeroplane-style toggle switches to the metal air vents and huge circular infotainment screen – feel a cut above what you’d get in the likes of a Fiat 500C. As ever with a Mini, the joy of buying a Mini is how much you can personalise it, and the opportunities have widened with this model, as you can design your own trim pieces online and have them 3D-printed or laser-etched by the company before you or your dealer fits them.
When you’re thinking of infotainment, you may well want to pay extra to replace the standard 6.5-inch screen with the optional 8.8-inch touchscreen system. It has a colour screen that is sharp and easy to use and comes with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard, although Android Auto is not available.
Sadly, no matter how many upgrades you pay for, you can’t get anything other than very cramped back seats. There’s just about enough space for kids to get comfortable – and not even that, if there are tall people in the front seats – but you’re more likely to see an elephant doing a tightrope walk than to find an adult who can get comfortable in the rear of the Mini.
It’s a similar story with boot space. Leaving enough room for the roof to fold away into means you’ll only have enough space left over to carry two small suitcases. To make matters worse, the narrow opening means it isn’t particularly easy to load and unload the boot, either.
The Mini Convertible is like a Saint Laurent clutch bag – cool looking and classy, but expensive and almost completely impractical
So it might not be as practical as the standard three-door Mini, but the Mini Convertible’s almost as much fun to drive. Its nimble handling and firm suspension help you make the most of a winding country road without its body leaning too much.
Sure, the heavier convertible might not be quite as quick as the hard-top 3-Door, but you won’t mind that when you can feel the wind blowing through your hair on a warm summer’s evening. Especially when dropping the roof also means you can enjoy the noise the exhaust makes all the more.
The convertible feels pretty sporty even if you choose the most basic Cooper version with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, but you can get a proper hot hatch if you upgrade to the Cooper S or John Cooper Works models. Both come with a 2.0-litre engine that was revised as part of the 2018 updates.
If you spend a lot of time driving around town, it’s worth considering the optional seven-speed automatic transmission, which will make your life a lot easier. On the other hand, if you do lots of long journeys, particularly on the motorway, you should be warned that the convertible is appreciably noisier inside than the regular Mini 3-door, even with the roof up.
Whichever version you pick, you’ll get plenty of high-tech safety features to keep you safe, including a Roll-over protection system. To that you can add the £440 Driving Assistant Pack, which brings Traffic sign recognition, as well as the Rear-end collision warning system, which will automatically apply the brakes in case of an emergency.
So, the Mini’s tougher than it might appear at first glance, but that’s not the reason you’ll want one. No, you’ll choose it because you want a cool little car that can put the wind through your hair and a smile on you face, and you don’t mind sacrificing some practicality to get it.