The main attraction of the Mini is its performance and handling, and the supercharged and intercooled S models get more power in this model year, to 168 horsepower, as well as revised gear ratios for quicker acceleration. At a base price of $24,900, plus a $550 destination charge and $1,950 worth of options for a total of $27,400, our Mini Cooper S convertible was far from the priciest Mini that could be specified--but hardly inexpensive. However, other small hatchbacks don't begin to compare to a Mini, nor do other small convertibles.
Convert and go
The Mini's interior pays homage to its ancestor in style, with more room than expected and a huge speedometer mounted in the center of the dash. The center mount looks good, but it's out of the driver's line of sight. Mini makes up for this with a small digital speedometer at the bottom of the steering column-mounted tach, directly in front of the driver. The seats are a cut above what's expected, even at the Mini convertible's premium price point, and although access to the rear seat is a little tricky, there is enough room for two medium-size adults to be comfortable.
Toggle switches at the bottom of the center stack have a retro, technical rack-mount look, although the plastic switches and loops in the face plate don't have a very solid feel. A cup holder hangs off the center stack, completely ruining the style of the dashboard. The optional Cockpit Chrono Pack, which we didn't have in our test car, places smaller tach and speedometer gauges on the steering column and exchanges the standard speedometer for a chronometer-style multifunction gauge. If the navigation system is specified, an LCD screen replaces the standard speedometer.
The convertible top takes the starring role here, going far beyond expectations. It is completely power operated, with no manual latching necessary, and has a two-stage operation. The front portion may be rolled back to form a sunroof at speeds less than 75mph. The top can be lowered remotely by use of the key fob or raised by inserting the key in the driver-side door and holding it. The convertible's trunk lid is hinged at the bottom, as on the original Mini, and can hold up to 175 pounds for a tailgate party. The rear seats fold down 50/50, allowing the Mini to work as a small hauler. The top does have some adverse effect on rear visibility, but that can be overcome through judicious use of the mirrors.