"This MINI Convertible is the best yet, delivering the driving fun and style of the hatchback with the added thrill of top-down motoring"
- High-quality interior
- Reasonable running costs
- Fun to drive
- Expensive options
- Not very practical
- Windy for rear passengers
It may not be such a common sight on Britain's roads as the iconic MINI hatchback, but the MINI Convertible is an important part of the brand’s line-up. This is particularly true in the UK; the biggest market in the world for the soft-top MINI. In fact, it's the UK's best-selling convertible.
Now joining in its third generation, the latest MINI Convertible feels more luxurious than ever, while its increased dimensions mean it’s more spacious inside, too. The electric roof has been improved and the boot is also bigger than previous generations.
Even though MINI's style is as close to timeless as you'll find, the hatchback and convertible were both treated to a round of updates during 2018. There were subtle tweaks to the exterior looks, with new badges, headlights, LED daytime running lights, and 'union flag' LED rear lights for cars sold in the UK. More personalisation options were introduced, too – there's a black alternative to the MINI's chrome parts, plus a wide range of colours and alloy wheel designs.
You can only choose the MINI Convertible with petrol power – there's a 134bhp 1.5-litre Cooper and the seriously quick 189bhp 2.0-litre Cooper S to choose from. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, or there's a dual-clutch (DCT) automatic gearbox. The automatic is smooth at slow speeds and when you’re driving the car enthusiastically, which is exactly what the car tempts you to do. Straight-line speed aside, MINI has done a great job of transferring the fun handling and dynamics of the hatchback to the Convertible, despite the compromise entailed by removing the fixed roof.
Another change in 2018 was the introduction of three trim levels to make it easier to choose a specification for your MINI Convertible. Entry-level Classic is well equipped, incorporating features from the former Pepper and Chilli option packs. There's a multi-function steering wheel and standard 6.5-inch colour touchscreen for the infotainment system, as well as air-conditioning, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and projectors that light the ground with a MINI emblem when you open the door.
If the Classic is a bit mundane for you, the Sport and Exclusive offer two alternative takes on the MINI identity for a bit extra. Sport is the more aggressive-looking, with a bodykit and wheels from the John Cooper Works collection and an interior to match, while Exclusive forgoes the sporty look in favour of a leather interior, classy chrome exterior highlights and more reserved-looking alloy wheels. As ever, there's a long and tempting options list, but the price can quickly escalate if you get carried away.
The MINI Convertible didn't feature individually in our 2018 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK, but 10.3% of owners of the mechanically identical MINI hatchback reported at least one fault in the first year. While the Convertible hasn’t been crash-tested itself, the hatchback it’s based on was awarded four stars for safety by Euro NCAP.
As a desirable, stylish car that’s fun to drive, the MINI Convertible commands a high price. The Cooper gets our nod over the more powerful, more expensive Cooper S, as the extra power doesn’t makes enough difference to justify spending more. If you’re after a compact, fun car that delivers wind-in-your-hair thrills when the weather’s good, there isn’t much out there that can beat the MINI Convertible.