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MINI Cooper S Convertible 2018 review

MINI Cooper S Convertible 2018 review
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MINI Convertible - front

5 Apr, 2018 2:00pm

James Batchelor

Agile chassis and updated tech mean the MINI Cooper S Convertible holds onto much of the charm of its fixed-roof sibling

MINI’s round of rejuvenating updates for its hatchback models have also found their way onto the Convertible version. For 2018, the MINI drop-top gets a tweaked look and new tech, as well as more ways to personalise it than ever before.

Like the Hatch, the Convertible’s facelift is a subtle one. At the front there are new headlights and DRLs, while at the rear you’ll notice the standard fit (in the UK, at least) Union Flag LEDs. The MINI’s expansive use of chrome can now be toned down if you opt for the black exterior pack, too, while new winged badges, fresh colour options and extra wheel designs also feature. The hatchback’s 3D-printed nameplates and dash trims are available, too. 

MINI Hatch in-depth review

On the inside, standard kit now includes a multifunction steering wheel and a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, while a sat-nav system with a larger screen and connected services joins the options list. That’s the sum total of the changes because the Convertible’s model and engine range remains the same. 

We got behind the wheel of the Cooper S, which is still a hoot to drive. Lopping the roof off has done little to water down the fun; while most cabrio cars suffer the inherent consequences of decapitation, MINI’s engineers have done an excellent job in preventing too much wobble. 

Our car had MINI’s new seven-speed dual-clutch Sports Automatic gearbox and it’s a big improvement over the old auto. It’ll offer rapid-fire changes when you’re driving quickly, or seamless shifts when you’re cruising. It’s a £1,700 upgrade over the six-speed manual.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine pushes out 189bhp meaning the S sits nicely between the Cooper and JCW in terms of power output. The chassis is agile and the steering and controls have a lovely connected feel to them. Switch to Sport mode and you’ll notice a few pops and crackles added to the exhaust’s rorty note.

Attack a corner and there’s a sniff more understeer than you’ll find in the Hatch, as well as an odd vibration through the steering, but on the whole, the Convertible feels almost as well sorted as its hard-topped brother. The only real gripes concern rear visibility when the roof is down, and wind noise with the roof raised. The boot is measly, while space in the back is poor but that’s almost to be expected in a convertible car of the MINI’s dimensions.

MINI’s only drop-top now benefits from the Hatch’s latest round of mid-life updates – including those controversial Union Flag rear lights. The exterior and tech updates are welcome, and owners will lap up the new range of personalisation options. The Convertible is still a great car to drive, but we’d stick with the Cooper version – as the Cooper S’s extra power doesn’t deliver much in the way of added fun.

  • Model: MINI Cooper S Convertible
  • Price: £25,530
  • Engine: 2.0-litre, 4cyl turbocharged petrol
  • Power/torque: 189bhp/300Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 7.1s/143mph
  • Economy/CO2: 44.8mpg/145g/km
  • On sale: Now

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