Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Wide range of nippy engines available
  • All-petrol line-up
  • Altogether very enjoyable to drive

What engine options are there?

The MINI Convertible’s range is less extensive than that of the three- and five-door MINI Hatch models. It consists of Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works.

It kicks off with the Cooper, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol. Despite being a cylinder down it’s nippy enough for a MINI, with 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. The turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol 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 strung out 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. It uses the same 2.0-litre engine as the Cooper S, just turned up a notch. This is the one to go for if you’re looking for the most exhilarating top-down experience. It races to the redline with aplomb at it’s sub 7 second 0-62mph time is not to be sniffed at.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.5-litre Cooper 136hp, 220Nm 8.8secs 128mph
2.0-litre Cooper S 178hp, 280Nm 7.1secs 143mph
2.0-litre John Cooper Works 231hp, 320Nm 6.6secs 150mph

View full specs

Handling

  • 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 power 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.

The John Cooper Works is the most extreme MINI. And while it is fast, it does suffer from wheel scrabble. This means if you floor the throttle you can feel the steering wheel tugging you one way or the other, not something you want from a performance car. Learn to control that and the steering is super sharp and precise. The ride might be too taught for some tastes as it can really crash into potholes.

The eight-speed auto found in this model is super quick, but occasionally jerky when really going for it. At least it allows you to select gears manually via paddles.