What Car? says...
How’s the weather looking where you are? If you’re in the UK, the chances are it’s a bit overcast and maybe even raining, but if the sun is shining you've struck it lucky – and it's on sunny days that this Mini Convertible really comes to life.
Despite the climate, our collective yearning for sunshine makes Britain one of the biggest markets in the world for convertible cars. In fact, you’ll find small offerings like the Mini being enjoyed all year round – often roof-down in even the chilliest conditions, their well wrapped up occupants keen to capitalise on whatever rays they can catch.
The Mini Convertible isn’t simply a car for fun days out and holidays, though. It's based on the Mini 3-door Hatch and can function just fine as an everyday car.
You can keep things relatively cheap by going for the entry-level Cooper version, or splash out on the seriously nippy 230bhp John Cooper Works model. And there are various trim levels and options to tailor the level of luxury your Mini Convertible offers.
There are, of course, a few rivals to consider before you splash out. For a start there's the Fiat 500 Cabrio electric car and the Fiat 500C Hybrid. You might also be considering the slightly larger VW T-Roc Cabriolet or the sportier two-seat Mazda MX-5.
Over the next few pages, this Mini Convertible review will tell you everything you need to know before you decide which is best for you – including how they compare for performance and handling, what running costs are like and more.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Mini Convertible offers a choice of three petrol engines, and our pick is the cheapest: the Cooper's 1.5-litre, which is one of the finest three-cylinder engines on the market. It’s very smooth, and its turbocharger helps it to pull with gusto from low revs.
For those who want more oomph, there are a couple of 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The 176bhp Cooper S can do 0-62mph in a fraction under seven seconds, while the John Cooper Works (JCW) version delivers proper hot hatch performance with 228bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.5sec.
The JCW makes a pretty invigorating sound, especially if you flick the car into Sport mode to unleash a few bangs and pops from the exhaust. Both engines are very flexible, so you can be fairly lazy with your gearchanges and still make rapid progress.
You do need to be quite precise with the manual gearbox, though – it can be a bit obstructive if you try to rush your shifts. If you fancy a more of a laid-back approach, the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is generally smooth in auto mode and reacts quickly to manually induced changes when you pull paddles behind the steering wheel.
The Mini Convertible weighs around 90kg more than the Mini 3-door Hatch and has no solid roof to help keep its structure rigid. That has a noticeable impact on ride quality: although things are reasonably settled on smoother roads, broken surfaces give rise to seat tremors, steering wheel wobble and pronounced levels of body shudder that can become uncouth. The electric Fiat 500 Cabrio is more comfortable, as is the VW T-Roc Cabriolet.
At slow speeds, the Mini’s steering is very heavy, and while it does lighten slightly once you’re on the move and does give you a good idea of what the front wheels are up to, we’d have preferred it to be better weighted and a little lighter. If you push hard through a corner, the front tyres will begin to relinquish their grip on the road earlier than you might expect.
Indeed, if you’re an enthusiastic driver, want a convertible car and can do without the Mini’s tiny rear seats, you’d be better served by the Mazda MX-5. The MX-5 has better judged steering, a better ride and a sweeter manual gearbox.
With the roof down but the windows and optional wind deflector up, the Mini does a surprisingly good job of isolating occupants from wind bluster. There's some road noise with the hood up, but overall it's quieter than in the 500 Cabrio or T-Roc Convertible.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The driver's seat in the Mini Convertible is comfortable and there's a reasonably wide range of adjustment, but some of the controls can be hard to reach, including the lever that alters the angle of the backrest. Adjustable lumbar support comes as standard on Exclusive trim and above and can be added to Sport trim as a cost-free option.
Another issue is the offset pedals. Shorter drivers will find their legs skewed over to the right, and the seat might not slide far enough forward for some. A comfortable front armrest between the seats is standard on all trims.
Although the layout of the retro-themed dashboard looks rather higgledy piggledy, the important controls are logically positioned and easy to use. The toggle switches in front of the gearlever look and feel great, although it can be tricky to find the one you want on the move.
Forward visibility is fantastic, thanks to the snub-nosed bonnet and slim, upright windscreen pillars, but it’s a different story when you're looking back over your shoulder. With the roof up, the large, fabric rear pillars block your view of what’s behind. When folded down, the roof languishes on the rear deck, filling most of what you see in the rear-view mirror.
Given those rear blind-spots, it’s just as well that rear parking sensors are standard. Front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and an automatic parking system that will steer the car into a space for you are all optional through the Premium Plus Pack.
As standard, the Mini Convertible gets an 8.8in colour infotainment screen with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and a USB socket. The infotainment is operated using a rotary controller behind the gearlever, with shortcut buttons to help make frequently used functions less of a faff to jump to. It’s easy to use and very responsive.
Upgrading to the JCW or speccing the optional Premium Plus Pack will add wireless phone-charging, built-in sat-nav with live traffic, a head-up display and an upgraded Harman Kardon stereo system. It’s a pretty pricey upgrade, but it does give you one of the best infotainment systems in the class.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There's a generous amount of space up front for two tall adults in the Mini Convertible. However, getting your two rear passengers in and out with the roof in place is a bit of a palaver. It involves them ducking beneath the low roof and squeezing in through a very narrow gap created by the tilted-forward front seats. It's much easier with the roof down.
Once the rear passengers are seated, they’ll have more knee room and space under the front seats to place their feet than in the Fiat 500 Cabrio and Fiat 500C Hybrid. The VW T-Roc Cabriolet is a much roomier alternative if you regularly need to put people in the back.
Useful cubbies are dotted around the interior, and there's a neat space for your phone to sit beneath the USB and charging sockets, so it shouldn’t slide about on the move. You also get two sizeable cupholders in front of the gearlever.
The boot is rather small, especially with the roof folded down. For reference, it's larger than the 500 Cabrio's but smaller than the T-Roc Convertible's. Access can also be tricky because the bottom-hinged bootlid opens towards you like a drop-down tailgate.
If you have big items to load, you’ll need to pull a couple of levers to lift the rear section of the roof and give yourself more room for manoeuvre. You’ll also need to make sure you leave enough space to allow the levers to return to their locking position – and, yes, it's as fiddly as it sounds.
At least when you do need some more boot space you can split the rear seatbacks 50/50 then fold them down. When you do, there’s a fairly large step-up from the boot floor to the seatbacks, making it a little harder to load long items.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Mini Convertible is one of the cheapest four-seat drop-tops available, with only the Fiat 500C Hybrid undercutting it. Better still, the Mini is predicted to depreciate more slowly than the 500C and that means PCP finance monthly payments should be competitive, with discounts often available (you can find them using our New Car Deals service).
Leasing rates and company car tax bills for the Convertible are very competitive too, and there are some very attractive finance packages to be had. We’d recommend paying a nominal one-off fee for Mini’s TLC package, which covers routine servicing costs for three years or 36,000 miles.
The Convertible falls in line with the Mini 3-door Hatch when it comes to trim levels, with a choice of Classic, Sport, Exclusive and Resolute Edition. Classic gives you LED headlights, a powered hood, rear parking sensors and an 8.8in colour infotainment system.
Sport adds styling features and adaptive suspension (although the Mini is firm with or without it). Exclusive trim costs the same as Sport, but instead of sporty looks, you get leather seats and chrome highlights for a more luxurious feel. The hot John Cooper Works version has sports suspension and cosmetic enhancements.
Mini finished an impressive third out of the 32 manufacturers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey and while the Convertible model wasn't assessed specifically, the hatchback version (both three-door and five-door) was within the top 10 most dependable small cars in the survey.
The Mini Convertible hasn't been appraised for safety by Euro NCAP. The Mini Hatch scored four stars out of five in 2014, but testing standards have improved so dramatically since then that the rating is no longer considered valid.
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Yes. It comes with the choice of three petrol engines and four different trim levels, making it easy to decide whether to have lots of equipment or more performance. Check the latest prices using our New Car Deals pages.
With the roof down and the windows up, it's surprisingly civilised. Meanwhile, with the roof up, there’s a fair amount of wind noise but less than you’ll hear in the Fiat 500C.
Yes, quite well. It's predicted to depreciate more slowly than rivals, especially the Fiat 500C. That’s good news if you want to buy on PCP finance because it keeps monthly payments competitive.
Yes. Regardless of which trim you go for, you get an electric folding roof.
|RRP price range||£25,890 - £52,500|
|Number of trims (see all)||10|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol, electric|
|MPG range across all versions||39.8 - 47.9|
|Available doors options||2|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£105 / £2,664|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£210 / £5,328|