MINI Convertible Review
The Mini Convertible is the Mini you know and love but with added fun in the sun
Strengths & weaknesses
- Fun to drive
- Powered hood is quick to close
- Value for money
- Suspension gives a firm ride
- Only three passengers can join the fun
- Boot is barely big enough for sun cream and swimming costumes
Mini Convertible prices from £7,995 Finance from £163.95 per month
The Mini Convertible isn't just for the summer. When the fun stops and you’re stuck in a traffic jam on a rainy November morning, it still has enough charm to put a smile on your face. And when the skies clear and the sun shines, the electric drop-top quickly opens at the touch of a button.
Little wonder, then, that this open-top version of the Mini Hatchback is the best-selling convertible in Britain.
In fact, it's got the market sewn up. For the starting price of a Mini Cooper convertible - £20,080 before discount - you could choose the DS3 Cabriolet, although its hood is more like an extended sunroof than a proper convertible drop-top. The same goes for the Fiat 500C, which might be equally charming but isn’t terribly spacious.
There are other, equally desirable cars for sun worshippers, including the BMW 2 series convertible, Audi TT Roadster and Audi A3 cabriolet, but they cost more and, in the case of the TT, only seat two people.
The current Mini Convertible was only launched last year but you can already find used ones from around £16,500. If having the latest car isn't essential, then the previous-generation Mini Convertible – sold until this model arrived in early 2016 – also has bags of character but costs from around £8,000.
Chopping the roof off a car tends to affect the way it drives, often making it wobble like a jelly on a plate, but the Mini Convertible still feels strong. This particularly helps in corners where the car is responsive, with something of the go-kart feel that Mini shouts about. It's fun to drive, with a snappy manual gearbox, and with the 2-litre, four-cylinder engine of the Cooper S model, the performance is really brisk.
That said, the smaller, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine in the Cooper is a real sweetie. It sounds lovely and pulls eagerly from really low in the rev range, and is generally a joy to drive at any speed. If you aren’t a petrolhead who demands maximum performance for your money, we’d argue that the more affordable Cooper is the better buy.
Most versions ride with an underlying firmness to the suspension. The Convertible isn’t the most soothing car on the road but then, as a topless Mini, it was never meant to be anything other than fun.
The model’s biggest party trick is the electric roof. It’s cleverly thought out as, with just the push of a toggle switch, it can be opened or closed in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 18mph. Alternatively, you can use it like a big sunroof, retracting the fabric back, so it leaves an opening over the heads of those in the front seats. With it closed, noise levels are good for a fabric roof.
Another neat touch is the car’s ability to warn you, via the dashboard or on a smartphone app, of impending rain. This is useful if you’re going to leave the car parked with the roof open or have already left it. However, the system is not entirely accurate since it relies on weather forecasts, and you’ll need to upgrade to the costly (£2,000) Navigation Plus Pack to have it.
Unsurprisingly, the Mini Convertible isn't the most practical car. Although the rear seats are considerably more spacious than in the previous-generation Convertible – adults can fit in them now – they aren't comfortable for long journeys. Kids, on the other hand, will enjoy the experience but pack a blanket to keep them warm, as it gets breezy back there.
All Convertibles come with three Isofix points, two in the back and one on the front passenger seat. However, the car has not been independently tested for safety by Euro NCAP.
It’s a better car when there are no more than two of you on board because you can then fit the optional wind deflector that lies over the back seats and which reduces the breeze inside. It's included in the £500 Convertible Pack.
The boot is also pretty small, with just 160 litres when the roof is down, and only increases to 215 litres when the roof is shut. In comparison, the Audi A3 Cabriolet has 320 litres and the Fiat 500C, 182 litres. It’s a weekend-away type of car.
As you may have gathered, the Mini Convertible is a car built for fun rather than practicality, and on this measure it succeeds. It's the best affordable four-seat soft-top going.
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited mileage|
|Boot size||160 litres (roof down) 215 litres (roof up)|
|Tax (min to max)||£165 to £515 in first year, £140 thereafter|
Best MINI Convertible for...
Best for Economy – Mini Cooper Convertible
There’s no diesel in the 2019 Mini Convertible range, so the Cooper petrol is the model for going further on a gallon of fuel. It returns up to 50mpg, and road tax is £165 in the first year.
Best for Families – Mini Cooper Convertible automatic
You’re unlikely to be buying a car like this for ferrying five children to school each morning. And you won’t want to be burning rubber. So pick the more affordable Cooper, add the £1,400 automatic gearbox, and sit back and enjoy the ride – especially when the sun is shining.
Best for Performance – Mini Convertible Cooper S
The performance version of the Mini Convertible is quick, accelerating from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, which is enough to ruffle your hair, even with the roof up.
March 2016 Third generation Mini Convertible goes on sale
March 2016 Special launch edition Mini Open 150 Convertible Edition limited to 150 examples, costing almost £30,000 and based on the Cooper S
April 2016 The high-performance John Cooper Works Convertible, with a 231bhp engine, adds some spice to the range
July 2017 An alertness assistant (which detects when the driver's getting tired) is added to Mini Convertibles
March 2018 Facelifted range is introduced, featuring latest connectivity and the option of a seven-speed automatic gearbox
May 2018 Special 25th Anniversary Edition model joins the range, with 300 sold in the UK, based on Cooper S and with a wide range of personalisation and a generous level of equipment – but it costs nearly £33,000
October 2018 Revised range with only Cooper and Cooper S petrol models and new trim levels - Classic, Sport and Exclusive
Understanding MINI Convertible names
Mini now offers Classic, Sport or Exclusive trim levels. To an extent, these dictate how the car looks; a buyer must then add options or pick from options packs to finish it to their liking
Two petrol engines are offered with the 2019 Mini Convertible: one a 1.5-litre and the other, a 2.0-litre. An automatic gearbox is available with each of them, as an option.
MINI Convertible Engines
Petrol: Cooper, Cooper S
The Mini Convertible uses the same range of petrol engines found in the current generation of Mini Hatchback.
That means the Mini Cooper Convertible is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, with 136hp, and can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 8.8 seconds. It feels zippy, particularly with the roof down and the wind in your hair.
A bonus of driving with the top down is that the car sounds sportier, since you can hear a characterful burble from the exhaust when you accelerate. Fuel economy is 50mpg but you're more likely to average 42mpg, according to figures from the Equa Index that’s based on real-world testing.
The 192hp Cooper S is much quicker than the Cooper. It sounds – and feels – a lot sportier when you prod the accelerator. Of course, on such occasions, economy suffers, falling from a maximum of 41mpg to the low 30s in daily driving.
Mini Cooper S
MINI Convertible Trims
Classic, Sport, and Exclusive
Introduced in October 2018, the Classic, Sport and Exclusive trim levels change the look and feel of the Convertible, rather than add more equipment. They are available on both the Cooper and Cooper S versions.
Every version comes with an electric folding roof that can also open part-way like a sunroof. There are also highlights such as a sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, a digital audio system, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth for wireless phone connectivity and automatic wipers and headlights. Occupants can also control a range of smartphone apps such as Spotify and Amazon Music from the dashboard. Mood lighting and projection lights on the wing mirrors – showing the Mini logo on the floor at night – liven up the interior.
On top of these, you can buy packs containing optional equipment. For example, the Convertible Pack (£500) bundles together the Always Open Timer, a wind deflector and keyless opening for the doors.
However, it seems mean to us that to have heated front seats, you have to add the Comfort Pack, a £900 option bundling together climate control, floor mats, a centre armrest and passenger seat height adjustment. Push this up to £1,600 and the Comfort Plus Pack adds a rear-view camera, folding and dimming door mirrors, front parking sensors and a self-parking function.
MINI Convertible Reliability and warranty
According to past Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys, the Mini Convertible has above average reliability, with respondents placing it 25 out of the 75 cars ranked.
This generation of the car has only been on sale for two years, so we've yet to gauge its reliability in the longer term. If you buy a car now, you have some reassurance that the Mini warranty covers new cars for three years, with unlimited mileage, although this is only average in the industry.
Used MINI Convertible
The oldest used models available are only two years old but they represent good value, compared with a new car. Petrol model Cooper Convertibles start from £9,991 .
Diesel versions have fallen in value as a result of the continuing concern and confusion over their environmental impact, despite the fact that they are clean enough to avoid inner city emissions charges.
Perhaps the most important thing buyers of secondhand Mini soft-tops should scout for is the Convertible Pack option. This brings together heated seats, a wind deflector that fits over the rear seats to reduce buffeting in the front and a gizmo that tells you how much time you’ve been driving with the roof open.
Cars with the Chili Pack are preferred by used car buyers and cost more than those without it. It's a similar story with the Pepper Pack, although the premium you'll pay is less than £1,000.
The Chili Pack included climate control air conditioning, mood lighting, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, part leather seats and unique alloy wheel designs. Different driving modes, which adjust the weight of the steering and the response of the accelerator, were included, too.
The Pepper pack brought 16in alloy wheels, a sport leather steering wheel, passenger seat height adjustment, mood lighting, climate control and floor mats.
Another option to look out for is the Media Pack. It has enhanced Bluetooth, with better hands-free call quality, a sat-nav and a larger 8.8in dashboard screen, along with Mini Connected XL.
Over the past two years there have been a couple of interesting special edition models. The Convertible was launched with a limited edition run of 150 cars called Open 150 Edition. These were based on the Cooper S and came packed with equipment, including Chili and Media Packs, heated brown leather seats and 18in alloy wheels. The £30,000 price was high but they represent good value on the used market – as long as you can live with the most distinctive feature: a Union Flag sewn into the roof.
The John Cooper Works Convertible will be harder still to find. A hot hatchback without the fixed roof, it accelerated from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, thanks to the car’s 231hp engine. Its sports car feel was achieved by making the suspension even firmer, which may be a compromise too far for many drivers.
The economy champion of the used Convertible range is the diesel-powered 116hp Mini Cooper D. However, it doesn't come close to matching its official 74.3mpg figure – you'll get closer to 50mpg in normal driving, according to the Equa Index – and it doesn’t drive with the vim of the petrols.