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MINI Convertible Convertible engines, drive and performance

2009 - 2015 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The MINI Convertible is available in three models – Cooper, Cooper S and the high performance John Cooper Works model (which is covered in a separate review). The Cooper is the most popular choice and is powered by a 1.6-litre engine with 120bhp, giving it a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds. It’s lively enough around town, but as with the standard Cooper hatchback, it does feel a little strained at higher speeds and struggles to pull from low revs.

As a result it needs to be worked quite hard – for instance when overtaking – but on the plus side it’s very economical, returning 50mpg. The Cooper S uses the same engine but is fitted with a turbocharger, boosting the power output to 175bhp. The 0-62mph time drops to 7.4 seconds and it’s much more exciting to drive. The extra boost from the turbo means it always feels urgent and willing, while the sporty exhaust note adds to the performance edge.

It has almost double the pulling power of the Cooper too, which means the engine doesn’t have to be revved as hard to get decent pace. Both models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard while a six-speed automatic (with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifts) is available as an option.

MINI has a strong reputation for keen handling and the second generation Convertible is no exception. The body is stiffer than the first MINI Convertible and feels better in corners and over bumpy roads, with very little vibration in the cabin. In fact, apart from on very poor roads, there’s very little difference compared to the standard hatchback or Clubman.

It’s every inch as good to drive too with pin-sharp steering, plenty of grip and a positive gear change. The Cooper S model gets stiffer suspension which means it is flatter in corners plus it comes with a Sport button. This tightens the steering and delivers extra power earlier in the rev range, making for a more involving driving experience.