2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible First Drive [Review]

2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible

The new 2016 MINI Convertible has been redesigned on the same platform as the 2014 hardtop model, but retains its British charm and go-kart handling. Available in Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works (JCW) models, the new MINI convertible delivers a rewarding drive experience and day-to-day usability. Even with the soft-top tucked away in the boot, it still has some space for luggage — 25% more than the previous model if you’re curious.

Most people who buy a ragtop do so for open-air fun, and will most likely choose the 189 horsepower Cooper S variant. The base Cooper model is equipped with a 1.5-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline 3-cylinder engine rated at 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Owners can choose between a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. With a 0-60 mph time of 8.2 seconds (AT), the new Cooper Convertible needs some room to get up to freeway speeds. The 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged 4-banger in the Cooper S has 207 lb-ft of torque and accelerates smoothly and confidently up to its redline before swiftly shifting to the next gear.

2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible

If you opt for the adaptive dampers and select ‘Sport’ mode, it’s especially anxious to engage in unlawful behavior. The ride is stiffer than in ‘Normal’ mode, the throttle is sharper, and the steering takes on more weight. It could relay a bit more feedback as the added resistance –achieved with the help of an electrically assisted rack — takes away a little feel.

When you’re being a model citizen in ‘Normal’ mode, you’ll notice the new MINI Convertible is a better cruiser and more relaxed when cruising around town. The Cooper S engine sounds are snarly and there is a steady spread of power. It’s a decently sorted little convertible. Perhaps not as much of a canyon carver as it once was, but that is the inevitable price of its growing maturity.

2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible speedometer and tachometer

From the driver’s seat, the speedometer is augmented with a head-up display that can show speed, navigation directions, collision warning signals, telephone lists, radio stations, and track titles. Centered in the middle of the dash is a large, circular infotainment screen framed by a ring of glowing lights. Located down low between the front seats is BMW’s iDrive wheel, which controls the infotainment stuff.

The back seats can accommodate passengers when the foldable, lightweight windscreen isn’t in place, but legroom is really tight. The rear panel drops to access the trunk, which has a mere 7.6 cubic feet when the top is closed and less space when open (5.7 cubic feet). MINI engineers came up with a clever storage system for the top and carved an extra 25 percent more space over the previous convertible model. Bigger objects can be fitted by dropping the backrests of the rear seats.

2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible interior

The Cooper Convertible, which has a healthy list of standard features, starts at $25,950. Once it’s loaded with options — e.g. heated seats, 410-watt Harmon/Kardon sound system, full LED headlights, adaptive dampers — they add up to a pretty penny. This isn’t to say they’re not worth it, just be wary that MINI is still an expensive small car.

The 2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible is all new and ready for some wind in the hair and fun in the sun as Nathan found out in this TFLcar everything you ever wanted to know video from the LA Auto Show.

2016 MINI Convertible Specs and Pricing:

MINI Cooper Convertible MINI Cooper S Convertible MINI John Cooper Works Convertible
MSRP $25,950 $29,600 $35,600
Engine 1.5L TwinPower turbocharged I-3 2.0L TwinPower turbocharged I-4 2.0L TwinPower turbocharged I-4
Power 134 hp @ 4400 rpm 189 hp @ 5000 rpm 228 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque 162 lb-ft @ 1250-4000 rpm 207 lb-ft @ 1250-4000 rpm 237 lb-ft @1250-4800 rpm
Transmissions 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual
Acceleration 0-60 mph 8.2 sec (AT) 8.3 sec (MT) 6.7 sec (AT) 6.8 sec (MT) 6.3 sec (AT) 6.4 sec (MT)
Top speed 128 mph 128 mph 142 mph 143 mph 149 mph 150 mph
Drivetrain layout front-wheel drive
Curb weight 2905 lbs 2855 lbs 3025 lbs 2985 lbs 3065 lbs 3035 lbs