Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Wide range of nippy engines available
  • All-petrol line-up from 2018
  • All are very enjoyable to drive

The MINI Convertible’s range is less extensive than that of the three- and five-door MINI Hatch models. The range consists of Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works. There are no diesels here from March 2018.

It kicks off with the Cooper, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol producing 136hp and 220Nm of torque. It’s a nippy little engine that’s capable of propelling the MINI from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 129mph.

Cooper models have a characteristic three-cylinder thrum sound from under the bonnet, and a surprisingly throaty exhaust note that’s especially audible with the roof down. It’s never uncouth, though, and suits the Convertible’s fun character.

If you want greater performance, the Cooper S won’t disappoint. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, it produces a hefty 192hp and 280Nm of torque, and zips to 62mph from a standstill in 7.2 seconds. If the laws permit, it’ll go on to reach 143mph.

The engine is strong, but it doesn’t overwhelm the MINI’s compact chassis; it’s able to put its power down effectively if you don’t completely floor the throttle on a greasy road.

It picks up smoothly and quickly from low revs, and loves to be revved all the way to the redline. Put it in Sport mode and the exhaust will crackle and pop, too, adding to the drama and the fun.

At the pinnacle of the line-up sits the John Cooper Works (JCW). It uses the same 2.0-litre engine as the Cooper S, just turned up a notch. Power is up to 231hp and there’s a bit more torque at 320Nm.

The 0-62mph time drops to just 6.6 seconds for this version, and it’ll top out at 150mph. This is the one to go for if you’re looking for the most exhilarating top-down experience.

Engines no longer available

The MINI Convertible was previously available as a diesel as well – the Cooper D – but this was removed from the line-up as part of the car’s mid-life revisions in 2018.

It used the same diesel unit found in the Cooper D Hatch, meaning it was a 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel with 116hp and a useful 270Nm of torque.

It’s a refined engine, but not as well-suited to the MINI’s fun nature as the petrol engines, especially when you can hear the diesel clatter with the roof down. 

  • Still fun to drive despite losing its roof
  • Not quite as rigid as the regular MINI Hatch
  • Very agile with accurate steering

Fans of the regular MINI Hatch will be pleased to know that MINI’s reputation for keen handling can still be found in this model, despite losing some of its structural rigidity from lopping the roof off.

The Cooper is the relaxed cruiser of the range, but still handles neatly, with a well-controlled body and eager cornering.

Move up to the Cooper S and you’ll find a highly enjoyable drive on a twisty road with only the Mazda MX-5 offering similar thrills. You can really throw it into a corner and it’ll quickly put a smile on your face. You have to work really hard to make it feel like it’ll run out of grip, being especially playful if you’ve got the car in Sport mode.

Despite putting a large amount of horsepower through its front wheels, the Cooper S’s clever electronic differential avoids scrabbly wheelspin and is also key to the car’s precise handling.

Both Cooper and Cooper S models have quick and precise steering that underlines the MINI’s light-footed agility. It’s light and user-friendly when parking too, making it pleasant to use around town as well as on a faster road.