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First drive: MINI Convertible 2021MY. Image by MINI.

First drive: MINI Convertible 2021MY
Our second go in a facelifted-facelift MINI is in a Convertible in an, er, eye-catching shade of yellow.

   



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MINI Convertible Cooper S 2021MY

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

After our first drive of the 2021MY MINI 5-Door Cooper S, now we try its soft-top relation to see if we can bond a bit more with the British tyke this time around.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive
Pricing: Convertible range from 21,500, Cooper S Exclusive from 27,860, car as tested 35,310
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, seven-speed DCT Steptronic dual-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door supermini convertible
CO2 emissions: 141g/km (VED Band 131-150: 220 first 12 months, then 155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 45.6mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Power: 178hp at 4,750-5,500rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 1,350-4,200rpm
Boot space: 160-215 litres

What's this?

A MINI Convertible, a car we last drove on the sunny Mediterranean isle of Mallorca, when it was anything but sunny. Like the 5-Door we mentioned in the intro to this piece, the Convertible has been given a second 'LCI II' facelift in its third-generation format, along with the Hatch and Electric models, and if you want a full rundown on what's changed then click on the first link in this article. We go through all the 2021MY alterations in that review.

In short, the Convertible has the same exterior and interior tweaks as the other updated MINIs, and as our test car was a Cooper S Exclusive then it had the snazzy new body-coloured bar in its radiator grille that marks it out as a 2021MY car most easily; of course, the car in the pics in a Sport, which has the John Cooper Works styling package that deletes this idiosyncratic bar. Anyway, what with the distinctive 18-inch Pulse Spoke two-tone wheels and the exclusive-to-the-soft-top and new for 2021 Zesty Yellow (525) paint, you certainly can't miss the MINI Convertible thus specified. Add in a Union flag-emblazoned fabric roof and it's a very bold look, although we find ourselves mellowing to the open-top MINI these days. Fold the lid all the way back and you get the pram-look at the rear of the car, which is a touch more quaint and endearing than it used to be. Admittedly, having all this undoubted MINI style means you get even more tragic interior packaging, with a minuscule boot and rear seats only really suitable for luggage rather than people, while our optioned-up test car rocked in at a breathtaking (for all the wrong reasons) 35,310. Still, quality cabin finishing, smart exterior... yeah, the MINI Convertible is going to continue to win plenty of fans as it heads towards being ten years old. It's ageing gracefully like Lauren Bacall, instead of disgracefully like Jocelyn Wildenstein.

How does it drive?

Do you know what? We think we prefer this soft-top to the 5-Door Cooper S. Granted, the Convertible still has a portly 90kg weight penalty to the Hatch MINI on which it is based, so it's a tenth-of-a-second slower to 62mph than even the flabbier 5-Door is, plus it loses 3mph on its utterly meaningless top speed. But as the MINI has veered more towards refinement than outright driving fun over recent years, then the more laid-back nature of the Convertible's mannerisms suits this 178hp drivetrain all the better.

Hood right down, and accepting there's something of a rearwards visibility issue as a result of all that fabric piled up atop the MINI's buttocks, it's genuinely a pleasant thing to operate. Sure, it won't get turned into corners quite as keenly as the 5-Door would and you can sense its increased mass does blunt its acceleration to a degree, but you can better hear the Convertible's raspy little exhaust note with the hood down and the slightly softer-edged suspension makes it an acceptable cruiser.

You still get the Open-Top Timer, too, which attempts to coerce/shame you into dropping the roof more often than not (and so you should; you did buy the Convertible and not the Hatch, after all...), and as it's a fully electric affair which can lower and raise on the move at speeds of up to 19mph then MINI makes it as easy as possible for you to do such a thing. Although we'd caution against the first stage of openness in the Convertible, which only slides the front portion of the soft-top back to a position above the rear seats; have the car like this with all the windows up in colder weather and it's like sitting in an icy hairdryer. You'll have an ice-cream headache within minutes driving in such a configuration.

Verdict

The MINI Convertible is not going to reset any parameters for a soft-top's driving ability in your head, nor is it particularly inexpensive to buy. But as an easy-going, amusing companion, the Cooper S Exclusive model makes a lot of sense. And, we'd argue, maybe more sense than its more prosaic, tin-topped stablemates, given the MINI Mk3's ongoing shift towards more grown-up kinematics at the expense of full-on motoring joy. The MINI is at its best as a boulevard cruiser, so specify it as one by picking the Convertible body.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 4 May 2021



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2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.

2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S Exclusive UK test. Image by MINI.








 

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