Best of all, the stiffer chassis now makes it much better to drive. As a result, it’s far more the kind of car that every MINI should be. And not before time.
The third generation MINI Convertible is not only bigger than its predecessors but is also a much more solid-feeling thing. The adoption of BMW’s UKL1 platform and extra strengthening has now made it feel impressively rigid and there’s little of the juddering body flex that you used to get at speed over bumps. The electrically-folding fabric roof can be raised or lowered in 18s at speeds of up to 18mph and most models come with a useful ‘Rain Warner’ app that monitors the weather and alerts you to climate changes ahead of time, so you don’t get caught out by sudden showers. Cabin buffeting is also well managed, providing you’re able to keep the side windows up and click the optional wind deflector into place across the rear seats.
That stiffer chassis helps the handling too, something further aided by direct steering and the perky responses from the various Twin Power Turbo powerplants on offer. Mainstream models get the brand’s most up to date downsized three cylinder 1. 5-litre engines, a 136bhp unit in the petrol ‘Cooper’ and a 116bhp variant in a diesel ‘Cooper D’ derivative capable of up to 74. 3mpg on the combined cycle and 100g/km of CO2. Beyond that lie the pokier 2. 0-litre petrol turbo models, either the 192bhp ‘Cooper S’ or the 231bhp ‘John Cooper Works’ flagship version. All of the models on offer can be ordered with a six-speed ‘Steptronic’ auto in place of the standard manual gearbox. Also optional on every version is the ‘MINI Driving Modes’ system that lets you choose between ‘MID’, ‘GREEN’ and ‘SPORT’ settings to fine tune to the car to your mood and the driving conditions.
The look and feel many not be dramatically different with this third generation MINI Convertible, but it still carries a cute, compact and quite up-market demeanour, especially when optioned up like this top variant is. You’ll find that in MK3 model form, the car is longer, wider and just fractionally taller than its predecessor, but the differences are subtle, as is the design execution of the electric fabric folding roof.
Time to thunk the long door shut and get behind the wheel. Settle into the firm but supportive cushioning of the driver’s seat and the first thing that might be apparent is how low you’re sat in the car. If you’ve come to this third generation model from an older MINI Convertible, your next impression might well be to appreciate your more spacious surroundings. The extra length, width and height of this car really tells from this perspective in additional levels of head, leg and shoulder room that give this version has a much more grown-up feel than previous models could offer.
Let’s take a seat in the back. With the roof up, squeezing in isn’t that easy and it’s pretty claustrophobic once inside.
With the roof down though, things are of course very different. Obviously it’s easier to get in and once in place, with the car in ‘al fresco’ guise, you can better start to appreciate the extra space that’s offered by this MK3 model.
The increase in body length hasn’t only increased rear passenger space: there’s more luggage room too. This boot is around 25% bigger than it was before, but don’t get your hopes up too much with regards to what’s available. Whatever the hood positioning, you can free up extra carriage room by pushing forward the 50:50 split-folding rear backrests.
In summary, we’ve a MINI Convertible that’s matured a little, but still knows how to have fun. Sure, some of its extra features – things like the ‘Rain Warner’ and the ‘Always Open Timer’ – can seem a little gimmicky but they’re fun, and isn’t that just the point of a car like this? If for you it is, then perhaps, just perhaps, another MINI Adventure beckons.