MINI Convertible review
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…
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What's not so good
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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 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. It was treated to a refresh in 2018, and then another one for 2021. This latest round of tweaks is largely cosmetic, so you get a redesigned front bumper along with a few new alloy wheel designs; and if you go for the optional Piano Black Exterior pack (which is standard on Sport models), you’ll find even more parts of the car have been finished in, well, black. There’s also an eye-catching new shade of Zesty Yellow paint that’s exclusive to the Mini Convertible – perfect if you’re the sort of person that likes to stand out while driving their high-fashion drop top.
There are a few notable changes on the inside, too. A slick new 8.8-inch infotainment system is now standard across the entire range, although you’ll have to pay extra if you want things like satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay preparation. Unfortunately, Android Auto is still a no-go.
That’s a bit annoying, but at least the Mini can claw back some points thanks to its abundant style appeal. 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 Volkswagen Polo. If you want visual wow-factor that’s backed up by a strong sense of build quality, then the Mini is worth a serious look.
Just know that that slick sense of style does come at the expense of practicality. There’s a bit of useful storage space up front, but the door bins are too small to hold a regular-sized flask. Then there’s the almost non-existent back seats. You might just get your kids comfortable back there, but you’ll basically have to push the front seats right up to the steering wheel to do so. And it’s probably best to forget about even trying to squeeze an adult in back there.
It’s a similar story with boot space. The roof mechanism eats into what was already a fairly limited luggage capacity, so you’ve really only got space for a couple of soft weekend bags or a smaller suitcase. 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 is still very nearly as much fun to drive. As with the rest of the range, a new intelligent adaptive damper system has been introduced as a part of the options list, to help the refreshed Mini strike a keener balance between comfort and sportiness. Our test car went without, but the standard car is still nimble enough to keep you entertained on a winding country road.
In fact, with the roof down and the wind in your hair, you might find that the Mini Convertible is even more enjoyable than the regular hatchback. Just know that when the roof is folded away, you won’t be able to see what’s directly behind you too easily. If the sun is shining and you’ve optioned the digital instrument display that comes as a part of the Nagivation Plus Pack, you’ll also have trouble making out what it says.
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 produces 178hp and 231hp respectively. You can choose between six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions too, and if you spend a lot of time driving around town you might find the auto a more comfortable option.
With the hood up, the convertible is noisier than the hard top on the motorway too. In fact, all versions of the Mini generate really quite high levels of tyre roar at a cruise, which can be a bit of a pain on longer journey.
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 £800 Driving Assistant Pack, which brings Active Cruise control, lane departure warning, an electronic parking brake, and autonomous emergency braking among other features.
So, the Mini is 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.
And as for price? Well, the Mini Convertible starts from £22,705, which makes it just over £6000 more than a basic Mini Hatch. But if it still sounds like it’s your cup of tea, why not head on over to our deals page to see how much money we can save you on one.