Car tested: 2012 MINI Cooper Convertible
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 39,31,210/-
Roof down motoring hasn’t caught the fancy of Indians yet. There are quite a few reasons for it, such as the dusty road conditions, lack of good roads and inconsistent weather conditions. However the primary reason for poor demand is the high costs of such type of vehicles. The MINI Cooper Convertible is the cheapest convertible in India and is now available on sale. Will it be able to change the trend? Let’s find out.
We have already reviewed the MINI Cooper extensively before and the Cooper Convertible is very similar to it in most of the aspects. Thus we will keep this review limited to the difference in the Convertible model.
Exteriors – The MINI Cooper Convertible is a very attractive looking car. Other than the chrome slats on the front grille, it looks very similar to the regular Cooper hatchback but features a soft-top instead of a hard-top. The durable soft-top is the only differentiating factor in the Cooper Convertible. The top has an integrated sliding roof function which allows for spontaneous open-air motoring. It takes 15 seconds to put the soft-top down or up, even when the car is in motion up to 30 km/h. With the roof up, the Cooper Convertible looks a bit weird, however with the roof down, the vehicle attracts massive eye balls on the roads. What is even more attractive is the wind in your hair feeling, which is truly splendid. Something which can only be felt.
Interiors – The interiors feature the same retro design found on the regular MINI Cooper, but the Convertible has beige inserts on the dashboard and steering wheel. The seats are beige too and quality is top notch. Sit inside and you will feel the mix of sportiness and luxury in the Cooper Convertible. The retro speedometer houses an LCD in between which has crucial data from the car’s computer including vehicle status, settings and the likes. The buttons to operate the roof are positioned right above the centre rear view mirror. There is no one touch down or up function. Rear visibility through the inside mirror is quite poor and once the roof is down, it sits on top of the boot, thereby blocking significant part of the rear view.
The boot opens in a pull out fashion and can keep one small sized suit case at best. Due to the electronic function of the roof, the boot space has been compromised. While the rear seat feels claustrophobic in the regular MINI Cooper, the Convertible fares much better with the top down.
Performance - The MINI Cooper Convertible is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine which produces a peak power output of 122 BHP at 6000 RPM and a peak torque output of 160 Nm at 4250 RPM. This engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and there are no paddle shifts. The gearbox doesn’t shift quickly enough but things improve marginally in Steptronic mode. Performance is average and not tarmac scorching by any standard. 0 – 100 km/h takes 11.1 seconds and the top speed is a respectable 191 km/h. The vehicle pulls decently to triple digit speeds but the revvs don’t climb as fast as one would expect. The Cooper does have enough grunt for relaxed cruising though. This engine won’t burn the roads like the Cooper S but is very refined and relaxed.
Ride, Handling and Braking – Even though the Cooper Convertible is slightly heavier than the regular MINI, the way it drives hasn’t suffered one bit. Thanks to a wheel on each end and a electromechanical power steering, the MINI Cooper Convertible is extremely agile. Handling is splendid and turn-ins are quick and highly confidence inspiring. The vehicle’s driving dynamics are not affected by much even with the roof down. Brakes are very good and have massive speed shedding capabilities. The MINI Convertible feels firmly planted to the ground at high speed and the ride quality is still on the stiffer side (Runflat tyres!). Although the Convertible offers a more comfortable ride than the Cooper S, it does have a tendency to bounce around on bad roads.
Conclusion – The MINI Cooper Convertible is more expensive than the Cooper S and is slower at the same time. The Convertible doesn’t offer the performance you would expect from a car of this price and the slow gearbox is to blame. However when you factor in the feeling you get while driving with the roof down, the Cooper Convertible immediately starts making sense. MINI is a vehicle that appeals to the heart and the Convertible’s wind in your hair feeling is simply irreplaceable.
* Wind in your hair
* Sharp handling
* Attractive retro styling
Whats Not So Cool
* Ride quality