Under BMW stewardship, a revival of the old British-built MINI debuted in the U.S. for 2002. Three years later, the first Convertible arrived—a soft-top version of the two-door MINI hatchback. Not only does the Convertible offer an extra helping of roadgoing fun, as well as unbeatable character, it can seat four passengers with a bit of squeezing.
What's New for 2016
Launched midway through the 2016 model year, the MINI Convertible has earned a substantial overhaul, in accord with the recently-redesigned Hardtop. Occupying a larger footprint, the latest Convertible has a restyled body and cabin, as well as new BMW-derived powertrains. Body proportions haven’t changed, but details differ considerably. The grille is a bit bigger, headlights sweep back more, and taillights are larger. The body itself has grown by 4.5 inches in length, on a wheelbase that’s gained 1.1 inches. The 2016 Convertible also is 1.7 inches wider and 0.8-inch taller.
Inside, the speedometer has moved from the traditional center position to behind the steering wheel. MINI Connected infotainment includes a 6.5-inch display screen. Back-seat legroom has grown by 1.6 inches. New turbocharged 1.5- and 2-liter engines replace the prior 1.6-liter units.
Choosing Your MINI Convertible
Each Convertible has a power soft top that can be partially retracted, providing essentially the same effect as a sunroof. Logically enough for a car of its size, trunk space is tiny: a mere 6 cubic feet, requiring some imaginative packing. With the split-folding backseat, storage space grows to 23 cubic feet when the back seat is unoccupied. Convertibles have integrated rollover protection.
MINI Convertible engines are determined by the trim level. All three versions come with a standard six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching function, or an optional six-speed automatic. The latter is available with paddle shifters. MINI Driving modes have Green, Mid, and Sport settings.
Two additional option packages are available for Convertibles:
The Technology package adds an 8.8-inch display screen, turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic information, MINI Connected XL and app portfolio, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors.
A Premium Package includes keyless entry, 410-watt Harman/Kardon audio, heated front seats, satellite radio, folding wind deflector, auto-dimming mirrors, and power-folding outside mirrors.
All Convertibles are eligible for optional leather seating, as well as a variety of colors, fabrics, and trim.
Even with its less-potent 1.6-liter engine, the previous base Cooper model was quite perky, at least with manual shift. With stronger, turbocharged engines in each 2016 model, performance of automatic-equipped MINIs should be comparable. Despite a $6,000 price difference above the Cooper S, the John Cooper Works edition has long been a hard-to-resist choice for MINI enthusiasts.