As if the hard-top version wasn’t cheeky enough, Mini has a new Convertible in Cooper S guise that promises to make any Monday better. Amping up the fun factor, the ultimate ‘go-kart’ feeling car has been spruced up yet again for 2021.
Along with a facelift, the convertible variant also gets a single engine option, the Cooper S with a 2.0L four-pot that is tuned like a bulldog on a sugar diet. It’s the same one we’ve seen before, but without a roof to drown out its enthusiasm, it sounds and feels more eager than ever to please.
Changes on the exterior are minor but visible. A moustache-like grille, vents instead of fog lights, new wheels and a new rear diffuser are the most noticeable changes. Personally, I’m not a fan of the new droopy-faced grille rework but, overall it’s a quirky looking package that still works its charm even after visiting the cosmetic surgeon regularly since 2013.
But, what will catch your eye first and probably from a mile away is this Zesty Yellow shade it comes in. Exclusive to the convertible, if you’re willing to put your face out there in public, this is the colour to dress it up in! The soft top does eat into the precious little cargo space but then again, besides being a cheeky lil city rocket, there’s no practical argument to buy a ₹50lac, almost 2-seater hatchback, so let’s not take away points.
With the roof up, you can also opt for a rather expensive but cool looking Union Jack pattern emblazoned on the fabric top and with the matching new tail-light design, it makes no attempt to conceal its British passport.
Interiors have seen a few minor upgrades in materials and instrumentation too but like always, the option pack list is long and dear. You pay extra for things like navigation, Bluetooth and even an Apple CarPlay preparation package! A bombastic sounding Harman Kardon audio system is an option too, along with a new 5in digital instrument cluster that’s inspired by an electric scooter apparently. It looks a bit soft on resolution and doesn’t add any real value over the older analog dials, which are still standard fit.
It would be better to spend on the optional adaptive suspension as the Mini has always been known to be a stiff ride. Start going crazy on the online configurator and your option list will soon be longer than your monthly grocery bill at Natures Basket. On our test car, we had wireless charging in the armrest and wireless Apple CarPlay on the 8in touchscreen that has some really fun graphics when you engage Sport mode. Both USB-A and USB-C options are provided, depending on which generation you belong to but a point to note is that the central armrest with the wireless charging pad didn’t accommodate our iPhone 12 Pro Max...but the 12 Mini did just fine.
The iDrive like controller is still a legacy control feature tucked away between the handbrake and the seats and in a cabin this compact where you might as well use your fingers on the screen, it feels utterly useless to be honest. The giant circular pod around the touchscreen also gets LED lighting that reacts to the audio system volume level but there is no option to change the colour of the ambient lighting. You can get extras like Head-up display, panoramic sunroof and in-built navigation if you’re feeling rich.
Behind the wheel, it feels properly sporty. The seats hold you well in place and the thick (a bit too much) steering wheel with aluminium paddle shifters look inviting. The sense of occasion the starter toggle brings to the proceedings can never get old. The burble of the high-strung engine is tempting to just floor the throttle and chuck it around from the get go. When you do, the Mini Convertible proves that it loses next to nothing to its hard top sibling. It bites into corners, the steering is direct although a bit too heavy at slow city speeds, and body roll is kept to a minimum as always too.
But the ride is more mature now, not unsettling like on the previous generation. Even on the 17in wheels with low-profile tires, the Mini Convertible never got uncomfortably wobbly with lateral movement in the cabin. Not once did it scrape its belly on speed bumps too, so its credentials as a city sports car are still very much intact. The raunchy exhaust note is addictive, especially with the roof up where it booms inside the cabin, like a little devil sitting over your shoulder egging you to go faster. It misses out on the pops and crackles like on the JCW, but it’s still loud, bassy, and thoroughly entertaining.
The roof mechanism is completely automated and goes up or down in a swift 16 secs, making it a very tempting weekend car, shifting form almost immediately, depending on weather and mood. If you don’t want to commit to a new hairstyle completely, the roof also opens like a sunroof, just letting in more air and light. Either way, the Mini Convertible is all about bringing a smile to your face with its looks, drive or quirkiness.