The 2016 MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S Convertible represent a progression of the first, which is still the only premium convertible in the small car segment. This latest iteration MINI Cooper Convertible is available in three models on our shores. It comes as the 2016 MINI Cooper or MINI Cooper S Convertible, and also as a special edition MINI John Cooper Works high performance model. All models serve up seating for four, with 2 doors and ample cargo space. There are two other MINI drop tops for the global marketplace that we won’t see here – the MINI Cooper One Convertible (a detuned Eco model) and a Diesel version.
The MINI Cooper Convertible offerings draw their motive force from either: a 1.5-liter inline 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine that makes 134 horsepower at 4,400 rpm along with 162 pound feet of torque at 1,250 rpm; or the MINI Cooper S, which is powered by a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder TwinPower Turbo motor that delivers 189 horses at 5,000 rpm while also developing 207 pound feet of torque at 1,250 rpm. The engines of both new Convertibles are mounted forward in a transverse orientation, driving the front wheels.
Energy is delivered to the driving wheels via either a standard Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional automatic transmission – a 6-speed auto for the Cooper, and a 6-speed Steptronic automatic, available with F1-style paddle shifters for the Cooper S version.
Both MINI Cooper Convertibles provide a refined and firm, European road feel, with a standard adjustable Driving Mode system, which allows directing the technically sophisticated drivetrain to match the driver’s Motoring mood. Sport Mode tightens steering and adjusts the throttle profile for a more aggressive driving scenario. Switching to Green Mode yields more fuel-efficient motoring, with optimized fuel delivery, tweaked shift points and a coasting feature that disengages an automatic transmission when lifting off the throttle.
The MINI Cooper Convertible models are unmistakably recognizable as a MINI while displaying their British heritage and delivering world class handling attributes. The Convertibles represent one of eight available MINI body styles. The MINI Convertible’s new streamlined body is aerodynamically sculpted, and grows in both size and refinement.
The spacious interior consists of a premium cabin with a new center console design. It is well appointed, with five high-end leather upholstery options, such as Chester Leather with diamond pattern stitching. Subtle ambient lighting enables the creation of varying cockpit moods with a multitude of settings and color tones, and cargo space has been increased by 25 percent.
MINI Connected is standard fare in the MINI Cooper and Cooper S Convertible, featuring a high-resolution 6.5″ or optional 8.8″ display, designed to seamlessly integrate technology into the MINI – from popular apps like Spotify® & Pandora®, to hardware like GoPro® and more.
An optional Park Assistant utilizes sensors to size up a potential parking spot to ensure that the MINI will fit. Then, the system will partner with the Park Distance Control to take over and steer the car into place with precise prompts for the driver when to brake, apply the gas and shift between forward and reverse.
Safety features include options such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Dynamic Stability Control and Head-Up Display, which add to peace of mind and convenience.
There are claimed to be several million ways to configure MINIs, and as with all MINIs, the Convertibles provide a 3-year/36,000 mile no cost maintenance program from boot to bonnet, and a four-year/50/000 mile limited warranty.
During the international press introduction, only MINI Cooper S Convertibles were available for testing. My driving partner and I began our test drive with the MINI Cooper S Convertible with the 6-speed Steptronic automatic. It wore a Melting Silver metallic exterior with a MINI Yours, Herringbone stitch woven pattern Union Jack top, a Chester leather and Malt Brown interior featuring Fiber Alloy aluminum trim accents. The base price was set at $29,600., while the final sticker came to $30,450. After adding the Destination charge. U.S. Option pricing was not available for the MINI Your Line. We also tested a Caribbean Aqua finished model, similarly equipped and priced. Option pricing for both was guess-timated to be at least another $2,500.
SUMMARY: Our MINI Cooper S Convertible drive route took us from Los Angeles through the Mulholland Hills and Topanga Canyon to Point Dume Beach, Malibu and back to L.A., and despite the fact that the new MINI Cooper S Convertible is larger when compared to the preceding model, it still handles with Go Kart agility, bringing a smile to the countenance of all onboard during spirited maneuvers. The wheelbase has been increased by 1.1-inch to 98.2-inches.
The ride quality is firm, riding on run-flat tires, but not objectionable. In fact, the seats are highly supportive and comfortable. I felt that the EPS steering was spot on and instantly responsive, while my driving partner found it to be lacking in feedback. In any case, the stability and road-holding ability are most impressive. Acceleration is certainly more than adequate, but a more robust engine and exhaust note would not be a bad thing, increasing the sporting flavor of what is now a more refined and sophisticated MINI, suitable for long distance travel in comfort.
The top now comes with a new feature, opening partially for a sunroof effect or operating to fully open at the touch of a switch in 18 seconds at speeds up to 18 mph. Another plus is that the homely protective roll-over hoops of earlier models are now hidden for a much cleaner top-down appearance, and the easily installed and removable rear seat wind deflector is genuinely effective in reducing wind buffeting. The only negative issues encountered were with the Nav system, which is not readily intuitive and often seems to have a mind of its own, which may well be only a software problem
For those who desire an increased level of performance than the MINI Cooper S delivers, the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible is set to provide the optimum experience, and is sure to please.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible
|Price as Tested:||$30,450.|
|Engine Type and Size:||2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo-Cooper S|
|Horsepower (bhp):||189 @ 5,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||207 @ 1,250 rpm|
|Transmission:||6-speed Steptronic Automatic|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel Drive.|
Front – Single-joint MacPherson spring strut axle with aluminum swivel bearing and anti-dive control.
Rear – Multilink axle with weight optimized trailing arms.
|Brakes:||Hydraulic power-assisted four-wheel vented discs, ABS, EBD, DSC, CBC. BA, HAS, Brake Dry function, Fading Brake Support, DTC and Electronic Differential Lock.|
|Tires:||Pirelli Cinturato P7 205/45 R17 run flats mounted on 10-spoke alloys – (5-large/5-small).|
|Length Overall:||151.9 inches|
|Width:||68.0 inches with mirrors.|
|Curb Weight:||3,235- (with automatic)|
|Fuel Capacity:||11.6 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||24-mpg city / 34-mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||6.8 seconds –(top speed=143 mph)|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.