|Positives: MINI fans will love the styling, engine is surprisingly peppy, great steering and handling and a good infotainment system.|
|Negatives: Not everyone finds MINI's styling charming, terrible blind spots with the top up, not much storage space and rear seats are extremely small.|
|Bottom Line: The MINI Cooper Convertible is a car that comes with some compromises. Basically, you give up real-world practicality in exchange for a fun driving experience and the ability to drop the top. Overall, the car comes with more positives than negatives. If it fits your lifestyle or is going to be your second or third vehicle, it can be a wonderful car to own.|
We got to spend a week with the MINI Cooper Convertible to see how the vehicle preformed as a daily driver and we took it on a little weekend trip to see how it is on the open road. Hereâ€™s what we found out about this quirky little drop top.
MINI is known for vehicles that have good handling characteristics and excellent steering. The Cooper Convertible is no exception. The car is a real pleasure to drive. Itâ€™s a short, study-feeling car that is up for just about anything you can throw at it as long as you keep it on the pavement. There's a bit of cowl shake at high speeds and when pushed, but it's not horrible. With the top up itâ€™s reasonably quiet and thereâ€™s no buffeting of the soft top â€“ even at highway speeds. When you retract the roof, you can drive and still carry on a conversation and most speeds. Air is directed around you and wind noise is pretty low for an open air vehicle.
Ride Quality: The tester we had came with sport tuned suspension. Its ride was a little on the firmer side. Still, it was not an uncomfortable ride.
Acceleration: We expected the 1.5-liter twin-turbocharged three-cylinder engine to be on the slower side, but weâ€™re happy to report that at no time did we feel at a loss for power. The car would have been even more fun with some extra oomph, but even with the little three-pot, accelerating was never an issue.
Braking: The brakes performed well and are progressive with decent pedal feel. However, we had to push down on the pedal harder than we expected to get the little car to halt. More powerful brakes would go a long way in this car.
Steering: Light and precise with good road feel. There is some understeer when the car is pushed.
Handling: The car handles wonderfully in everyday traffic and feels solid until you really push it hard. The extra supports to the chassis MINI added to the convertible do their job well.
MINI gives the Cooper Convertible everything it needs to compete in a automotive industry where tech is king. It has features like Bluetooth connectivity, available navigation, SIRIUS XM Radio, real-time traffic information and more. Also included in the Cooper Convertible are things like MINI Connected, which can give you warnings in advance about weather. This keeps you from getting caught in the rain with your top down.
Infotainment System:The infotainment systemâ€™s 6.5-inch screen looks a lot bigger in such a small car, and the operating system MINI uses functions smoothly and is well laid out, though a bit labyrinthine.
Controls: The buttons and dial/joystick controller between the front seats works extremely well to navigate the infotainment systemâ€™s offerings. Also, steering wheel controls and the few buttons on the dash make quickly accessing radio functions a breeze.
Bluetooth Pairing: Connecting a phone was simple and we experienced no issues.
Voice Call Quality: Calls came through loud and clear on both ends.
You either love or hate MINI vehiclesâ€™ styling. MINIs always remind us of a spunky bulldog. Itâ€™s cute and fun but some people donâ€™t care for it. The MINI Cooper Convertible doesnâ€™t stray much at all from the brandâ€™s styling conventions and incorporates a soft top well. If you like MINIâ€™s styling, youâ€™ll love the look of this car both inside and out.
Front: The carâ€™s short nose and round headlights give it the look MINI is known for. The grille and headlights have been updated but for the most part the vehicle looks very much like previous model years.
Rear: The rear of the car is simple and mimics the hardtop version closely.
Profile: The Cooper Convertible has the classic MINI silhouette with the top up and shows off an attractive profile with the top folded down.
Cabin: The cabin is a little less quirky than MINIâ€™s of the past. BMWâ€™s interior design seems to have rubbed off. The cabin is still very much MINI, but it is more sophisticated and conventional.
The cabin of the MINI is surprisingly comfortable and spacious, at least for the two front seats. Thereâ€™s plenty of room for two people in this car, but if you cram three or four, youâ€™re going to be cramped, especially if youâ€™re tall. The steering wheel, dash and seats are made of relatively high-quality materials and ergonomically everything feels pretty good. The center armrest is a bit out of place. Otherwise, everything is more or less where youâ€™d expect it. We took a few long drives in the vehicle and stayed comfortable throughout the entire drive.
Front Seats: Well cushioned and bolstered. Our tester had 6-way manual adjusting seats, and we did not have a hard time getting or staying comfortable.
Rear Seats: The rear seats are well-padded and bolstered, but thereâ€™s basically no leg room and the seating position is almost completely upright. Taller people would have a hard time riding in the rear seats.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Overall the car feels solidly built and well-made, though we did know some cowl shake at high speeds
Visibility: Front and side visibility is good. Rear visibility is tough with the top up due to large blind spots and a small rear window. When you put the top down it blocks the rear view, but it is easier to see around the car.
Climate: Heated seats and a powerful HVAC system make it easy to keep the cabin at the temperature you want.
The 2016 MINI Cooper Convertible has not yet been rated by the NHTSA or the IIHS, however, the two coupe version of the MINI Cooper has been rated and has received high marks. While these arenâ€™t exactly the same cars and the convertible version will likely lack some rigidity of the coupe, we expect that it will be a very safe vehicle.
IIHS Rating: This vehicle has not yet been rated.
Standard Tech: 6 airbags, automatic headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers, tire-pressure monitor
Optional Tech: There's not much in the way of accident avoidance, really. Options that came with our car were runflat tires and a rear view camera
The MINI Cooper Convertible will never excite someone who has a lot to carry. The trunk is very small and thereâ€™s few storage containers and bins in the cabin. The rear seats do work well for toting your cargo, and seeing as how theyâ€™re not very good for carrying passengers around, we expect most buyers to use those rear seats for bags and other items. The rear seats fold down too, so if you had something thatâ€™s a little longer than the rear seat can handle, you may be able to fold down the back seats and snake it through the trunk space and into the cabin.
Storage Space: The cabin is not very accommodating to everyday carry items. There are couple cup holders, a glove box, door pockets and a tiny storage compartment beneath the armrest. None of these spaces is large.
Cargo Room: 5.7 cubic feet of space in the trunk and 7.6 cubic feet with the seat area.
When you compare the fuel economy numbers of the MINI Cooper Convertible to those of small economy cars, the Cooper Convertible comes up a bit short. However, if you look at other convertibles you can buy, especially if you look at ones priced about the same as the MINI, youâ€™ll find that it does quite well. At 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, the Cooper Convertible can get you pretty far on a few gallons of gas, but itâ€™s beat out by cars like the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Civic, though those cars offer little in comparison in terms of driving enjoyment. In short the MINIâ€™s fuel economy is good, but not excellent.
Observed: We saw an average of 31 mpg in the car.
Driving Factors: During the week that we had the vehicle, we drove both on the highway and in the city. We tried to have an equal mix of heavy acceleration and relaxed driving situations.
The six-speaker audio system provides clear and crisp sound to the cabin of the car. Granted, it isnâ€™t extremely difficult to fill such a small space with rich sound. With the top down, we expected the sound system to be lacking. It surprised us though and does a good job of blasting out sound so you can hear you favorite song with the top down at high speeds. Controls for the system are easy to use and this makes it a pleasure to operate. As good as the system is, there are better systems out there.
Overall, the MINI Cooper Convertible offers a lot. Itâ€™s fun to drive, provides an open air experience and is reasonably comfortable. Its shortcomings are largely due its impracticality. If youâ€™re looking for a practical vehicle, look elsewhere, but if youâ€™re looking for something that packs a lot of fun in for the price, this is an excellent choice.