You should already be familiar with the third generation Mini that arrived last year to universal praise, improving on the old model and providing a car with more practicality as well as the all-important fun factor.
Now it’s the turn of the convertible, driven here in turbo-charged Cooper S form. Compared to the previous version, the new Mini convertible has a fully-electric roof that can go up or down in 18 seconds as well as operate on the move, up to 19mph.
There’s improved space for rear-seat passengers and, in the boot, more equipment and greater personalisation options too.
There’s nothing on the road that looks quite like the Mini, except the previous generations, of course, but the subtle evolution of the convertible shape makes perfect sense when you view the older versions. It hides the increased dimensions well, and as ever it’s all about the options you choose.
You can even get a Union flag stitched in herringbone into the roof, which some buyers will go ga-ga for. Image has never been a problem for the Mini, and nothing says you’re a fun-loving individual than a convertible.
There are few cabriolets of this size on the market, even fewer that offer four seats, but the Mini convertible does a remarkable job of being usefully spacious.
In the front, taller adults are easily accommodated and there’s good adjustment for the wheel and the seat to achieve a good driving position. In the back it’s more of a squeeze, but it is a realistic four-seater as long as there aren’t three of you over six feet.
The boot is now 25% bigger than before, with 215 litres available with the roof closed and 160 litres with it open. There’s also a new mechanism that allows you to lift the folded roof slightly to improve access.
Aside from the top of the range John Cooper Works the Cooper S is the most desirable Mini convertible in the range. With 189bhp on offer it is pleasingly rapid, hitting 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds, but it is the generous torque of 207lb/ft on offer that makes it so fun to drive.
If you’re cruising you don’t have to row the gearlever to make good progress, and if you’re in a real hurry there’s a pleasing burble from the exhaust.
The Sport mode gees up the Cooper S still further, and while choosing the convertible invariably is a little heavier and less stiff than the hatchback, it is exceptionally rare that the body feels anything other than completely solid.
The ride is also well judged, coping with road imperfections but still providing the zippy handling that buyers demand. Most impressive is that the Mini convertible demands so little in the way of compromise, being refined and comfortable roof up or down.
Mini has given the convertible a decent upgrade in terms of specification too, with even the regular Cooper getting the attractive visual boost radio which means a 6.5in screen surrounded by active LEDs that change depending on what the system is doing. There’s also the Mini connected system and Bluetooth connectivity, USB input and crucially rear parking sensors with a reversing camera too.
It doesn’t take much to justify the purchase of a Mini convertible as an alternative to some of the more mundane alternatives.
It’s a significant commitment in money terms but this isn’t just a fair-weather machine; it’s comfortable and cosy enough to be used in
the depths of winter and has enough space to cope with adults, kids and luggage.
It also manages the clever trick of appealing to a very broad demographic – you can see young, old and everyone in between taking a shine to it.
Model: Mini Cooper S Convertible
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol unit producing 192bhp and 207lb/ft of torque
Performance: Top speed 143mph, 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds
Economy: 46.3mpg combined
CO2 rating: 142g/km