Vehicle Reviews

MINI Convertible - Review Of The Week

It's pretty hard to take exception to MINI's MK3 model Convertible. It delivers surprising space for passengers and luggage, a stylish roadway demeanour and a customisable fabric roof. This revised version has been usefully updated with fresh technology, smarter connectivity, standard-fit front and rear LED lights across the range and an advanced dual-clutch automatic gearbox. As before, buyers can pick petrol, diesel and performance versions.

The Convertible MINI has a slightly different remit from the hatchback - being all about style - but the fact that it invokes the Cooper name across all variants hints at the potential for driving thrills. The base 136bhp MINI Cooper Convertible will accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and hit 129mph. There's also a 116bhp Cooper D diesel model, a pokier 192bhp Cooper S petrol version and a flagship 231bhp John Cooper Works derivative. High performance though, hardly seems relevant in a four-seat soft-top: what is important is the operation of the newly-designed roof. At speeds of up to 18mph, this fabric top can be lowered or raised in 18 seconds, so when the British weather does what it does, you'll not be left out in the rain for too long. If you just want to open the small portion over the front seats, it can slide back 40cm, automatically, at any speed.

In the updated range we're looking at here, nothing's fundamentally changed engine-wise, though MINI says that minor changes have been made to its TwinPower Turbo Technology across the board, improving engine electronics, oil supply, intake air ducting, the cooling set-up and the exhaust system. Perhaps most significant though is the news that the brand has at last got around to fitting in a proper dual-clutch auto gearbox for those wanting a self-shifter, this now a 7-speed unit.

MINI Convertible - Review Of The Week

The styling of this revised MK3 model doesn't look all that different, but close inspection will reveal the addition of standard-fit LED front and rear lights, plus there's now extra scope for all-important personalisation. Otherwise, this third generation MINI Cooper Convertible retains the basic overall body shape that we all know and love, with each of its key dimensions just a little larger than those of its earlier pre-2016 MK2 model predecessor. This addresses the main criticisms of the older design in two key areas: the back seats and the boot. Rear passengers get more legroom, making access the second row easier.

When the folded fabric roof is down, it forms a wrap-around collar around the back seats, rather than disappearing completely. It encroaches slightly into the boot area but despite this, the luggage capacity is these days a reasonably acceptable 215-litres with the roof closed and 160-litres with it folded down. The roof is customisable and retracts in 18 seconds. Optional is a woven Union Flag option. The rival DS 3 Cabriolet model can also be specified with a patterned roof, but the Union Flag has long been associated with the MINI. There's also a new MINI logo that appears on the bonnet, tailgate, steering wheel, instrument display and central locking remote control.

So, this improved third generation MINI Convertible looks great, is brilliantly designed, cheap to run and holds its value. It's even a bit more practical than you might be expecting. OK, you could perhaps complain about the premium pricing but in truth, there's not really much more than that to put off would-be Convertible purchasers who need a more involving drive than one of those hairdressers' cabriolets but don't want a sports roadster either.

This car has so much more street-cred than obvious rivals and is far-less gender-specific (all right, female-orientated), which will matter to male buyers nearly as much as the fact that it's huge fun to drive. A MINI adventure then, that could see you living happily ever after.

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