What is it?
Soft-top version of the hatch- not to be confused with the Mini Roadster - that's still cute, and still a fine little convertible. But the emphasis is on little: the boot is tiny and the interior packaging odd.
This is where the Mini convertible really scores, simply because it is very nearly as good as the Coupe. Surprisingly so, in fact. It bounds into a corner with the kind of enthusiasm you get from small, yappy dogs when they go for the family guinea pig, or a teenage girl who's just seen a new Top Shop across the road. The steering is nicely weighted, the suspension firm but well damped. Makes a cracking hot (ish) hatch.
The Cooper S gets 175bhp from the turbocharged 1.6-litre four-pot. It's fizzy, exciting and fun company - which all suits the Mini's vibe perfectly. Even with the fabric roof and associated extra bits, the ‘S' will hit 62mph in seven-ish seconds and trot along to a perfectly respectable 140mph top speed. The Cooper comes with a less exciting 120bhp, but the car should still row along with proper aplomb.
On the inside
Space up front is good as is the headroom for the front seats. In the back you'll need to remove both your passengers head and legs, so they might not be quite so pleased. Actually rides pretty well even on the larger optional alloys (it's a well-sorted suspension set-up), and the motors can deal easily with a little motorway work.
Minis generally feel like all the money has been spent on the engineering - so the steering feels great, as does the suspension and engine. But with this generation the interior beavers have been at work too - where once the Mini felt quite brittle in the switchgear (just because it's painted silver doesn't mean it feels like metal), it now feels plusher and more damped. And even though there's an excess of ‘look! Aren't we, like, really good FUN!' in the design, you can't argue that everything feels a lot better than the previous generation.
With the roof stowed there's not much bootspace. With the roof up, there's ...er... not much bootspace. Well, enough for a squashy bag, but you won't be packing your life and soul into the Mini Convertible. Still, it's small and nippy, has decent puntability and as long as you're thinking two rather than four for a weekend away, it's fine.
A decent run will get you mid-thirties in terms of MPG, less in town. Insurance is steep for the Cooper S, but residuals are still super-firm on Minis. So it's a bit of a mixed bag really.