While I’m still fairly new to the perks of being able to test different cars every week, perhaps my excitement to test my first convertible would be considered overly-ambitious by other motoring journos. But when I heard that a Mini Cooper S Convertible was coming my way for a week I immediately started planning all sorts of excursions to test its performance (and let’s be honest, to show off a bit).
When you live in a city as scenic and trendy as Cape Town, it’s not uncommon to spot someone in a Mini zipping around with the top down, and I’ve always felt a bit jealous of whoever was in the driving seat. Finally, I could experience it for myself.
If you’ve never driven a Mini before, hopping in the driver’s seat feels a little overwhelming at first. You’re surrounded by buttons, levers, switches, lights and gadgets of all shapes and sizes. The latest Mini generation includes an instrument panel on the steering column, a central instrument with new functions, optional LED lighting display and a red start/stop button at the centre of the toggle switch bar in the lower section of the centre console.
Once you’re familiar with its functions you’ll very soon realise just how punchy it is for such a small car while the output makes the Mini Cooper Convertible super zippy!
Here’s what we love about the new Mini Cooper S Convertible:
The Cooper S Convertible with its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine puts out 141 kW and 280 Nm of torque and thanks to its overboost function, 300 Nm is possible too. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission but we were lucky to drive the six-speed Steptronic Sport auto (a slightly more expensive option), and offers shorter shift times. It also comes with paddle shifters and launch control.
Electric folding roof
This has to be one of our favourite features of the new Mini Cooper convertible. Its folding roof soft top is fully automatic and electronically powered (and it takes only 18 seconds to completely open or close). If you don’t feel like being completely exposed the sliding roof function opens up to 40 cms, giving you more of a sunroof sort of feel. It comes standard in black but at an extra cost you can opt for one with a black and gray Union Jack motif designed into the roof.
Standard on the Cooper S convertible are three Driving Modes: Green, Mid and Sport which can be selected at the base of the gear stick. Selecting Sport mode prompts the center display unit to announce it as ‘go-kart mode’ in the form of a graphic while the accelerator and steering sharpen up. We certainly had a lot of fun but some might feel that perhaps it’s a bit much for the Cooper S – we tend to disagree!
Signature puddle lights
Okay I’m sure a lot of people would feel that having Mini Cooper branded puddle lights is more of a gimmick than anything, but it’s certainly a feature that stood out. We soon got used to hearing “it’s the signal for Batman!” as people walked by after we’d locked or unlocked our little showoff.
We can’t not note how impressed we were with its bootspace. It claims 25% more boot space than the previous generation, with a total of 215 litres with the roof up and 160 litres with the roof down.
While I’ve heard a lot of people call the new Cooper Convertible a ‘poser car’ and it certainly has a few ‘showoff’ features, it’s got a lot more going for it. It handles corners superbly while engine performance was more than enough to give it that sporty, zippy feel. The target demographic might be more for the ladies but once driven I have no doubt that guys will be loving it too!