MINI Cooper Convertible
What is it?
The latest, and bigger, third-generation version of the best-selling new MINI Convertible – now based on the F56 hatch in Cooper form.
- The latest MINI Cooper Convertible is powered by the moderately lively (135bhp) and torquey (199lb/ft), three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine. Even with the extra 105kg added in the transformation from hatch to convertible, this engine feels smooth and willing.
- Despite the extra weight, the MINI Cooper Convertible is still capable of 57.6mpg on the Combined cycle and has 114g/km CO2 emissions. It is well-matched to the standard six-speed manual transmission too and with the roof folded, it makes the right sporty sounds.
- MINIs are known for their keen drive and this Convertible in Cooper form doesn’t disappoint. Key to the fun is the fizzy engine, responsive steering, tight handling and slick gear change.
- However, the biggest improvement noticed on the Cooper we drove, has to be to the shell’s strengthening. Scuttle shake is virtually nonexistent on the new car. This is due to the extra underbody struts fitted at the front and rear of the car, which dealt admirably with the worst we could throw at it and only the mildest shudder noticeable.
- Like the rest of the current range (especially the Clubman!), the new MINI Convertible has grown. Key stats are that it is 98mm longer than the outgoing R57, 1mm taller and 44mm wider.
- The new MINI Convertible’s larger footprint is an extra 35mm of rear knee room. Plus, there’s now no penalty for your MINI hatch losing its roof, as at 215 litres, the new convertible matches the hatch’s rear space.
- Hood up, the electric hood itself seems less chunky, even though MINI has improved the refinement with better insulation. We like the MINI Yours Union Jack woven roof option, which is well executed and for patriotic fans, it seems worth the extra £350.
- Get that hood down – which is what you’ll want to do and we were impressed by how much quieter and smoother the roof mechanism is. Other bonuses are the fact that it can be raised or lowered at up to 18mph, in just 18 seconds and there’s still the same sunroof function. This just opens 40cm of the front section, for those owners who don’t want to fully drop their top.
- With the hood folded, we like the tidier way it concertinas behind the rear seat and into its space on top of the boot – although we’re less sure about the unsightly gaps at the sides.
- The lack of visible rear roll-over hoops also cleans up the rear of the new MINI Cooper Convertible. Now hidden behind the rear seats, in the event of a rollover, they pop up to protect rear passengers.
- Like the rest of the MINI range, personalisation for the Convertible will be key. Responding to this, on top of the Union Jack roof we mentioned above, the Convertible also has two exclusive colours – Caribbean Aqua and Melting Silver. A Malt Brown version of the Chester leather first seen in the Clubman is also available.
- In addition, you’ll also be able to specify any Convertible with the new and upgraded option packs, which were recently announced. These include the new MINI Tech Pack, priced at £2,250. Plus, the MINI Yours pack for £1,950. Or the improved Chili Pack at £3,200, which now includes LED headlights and foglights.
- One clever feature that we think will appeal to British MINI Convertible buyers, considering the changeable weather, is the ‘rain warner’ function. Part of the optional MINI Connected XL navigation system, it will send the driver a text message if it’s parked up with the hood down and the forecast is bad, suggesting you might want to put the roof up. Should you be in the MINI heading towards a shower, the driver will be alerted by the centre screen.
- Low CO2 emissions mean the MINI Cooper Convertible falls into the 20% company car tax band for 2016/17.
- With the extra weight, 0-62mph acceleration in 8.8 seconds (go for auto and it’s a tenth quicker!) and the top speed of 121mph aren’t as sharp as the Cooper hatch.
- Although there might be more space in the back and boot of the latest MINI Convertible, I’m over 6ft in height and have to say I’d still struggle to be comfortable on a long drive in the back of the latest drop top. But when did you buy a MINI Convertible for rear space?
- Move to the boot and although the extra space is welcome, access makes loading and unloading difficult – even when you raise the roof mechanism.
- The other downside apart from rear space is the lack of rear visibility when the hood is folded. Thankfully, rear park distance sensors are standard and now as is a camera – which has an impressively high resolution.
- All of these packs have a tempting amount of standard kit, but they are costly with the well-equipped Cooper test car costing over £25,000.
The Verdict on the new MINI Cooper Convertible
The MINI is the best-selling four-seater convertible in the UK with 29,415 sold. After driving this Cooper, we reckon sales of the drop-top version of the MINI will continue to go from strength to strength. It looks slicker, the roof mechanism is quicker and the roof itself is more refined when up. Combine that with the new stiffening measures and that fizzy three-cylinder petrol engine, the Cooper Convertible is almost as much fun to drive as the F56 hatch.
It might be bigger, but space is still compromised in the back, the boot access is still tight and rear visibility is still very compromised. Get past these issues and the MINI is a great drive, but affordable to run business choice in Cooper form.
Besides the strong performance, the MINI’s 1.5-litre turbo is capable of almost 60mpg, while CO2 is just 114g/km. But how does it compare to a key rival – the just face-lifted and re-badged DS3? Closest model to this 1.5 Cooper, is the £19,195,1.2 PureTech Elegance convertible. The MINI is cheaper to start off in standard form at £19,085.
The DS however comes back strongly with its lower 105g/km emissions and 16% charge.
MINI Cooper Convertible
The Low Down…
|Doors and body style||three-door Convertible|
|Engine/gearbox:||1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol turbo/Six-speed manual|
|0-62mph/top speed:||8.8secs/ 129mph|
…..and what it costs
|P11D Value||£ 18,560|
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||From £N/A (3yrs/30,000 miles)|
|Road tax (VED)||C|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2016/17 to 2018/19||19%, 21%, 23%|
|Benefit in kind 2016/17 to 2018/19||£3,526, £3,898, £4,269|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£844/£70|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£1,687 /£141|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£705 /£59|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£1,411/£118|
|Figures correct at time of posting||August 2016|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|