Mini gave the Cooper S Convertible and the hatch a facelift, and the updates are limited to cosmetic changes only. But is it still worth that hefty price tag? Well, we spent a weekend behind the wheel to solve all your doubts.
Words by: Harshit Srinivas
Shot by: Sachin Kawankar for Just Urbane
It's Friday! And, the boss calls. With fingers crossed, I answer the call with a tense face, and relaxed one at the same time, after hearing that I am getting the Mini Cooper S Convertible, all to myself for the weekend. Honestly, phone calls from the boss were never joyful. But this one was, as I have been a fan of the Mini cars since Mr. Bean's days; way before a movie dubbed ‘The Italian Job’ was on your screens, and those wild Minis, in your hearts. And, there I was with the drop-dead gorgeous Cooper S Convertible at my doorstep. The car that I tested came in a sizzling hot Zesty Yellow, a color that is exclusive for the convertible variant. About the rest, here are my thoughts after spending the weekend with the cutest car in India.
The Mini is no longer Mini in size, and despite certain cosmetic tweaks in every generation the designers have successfully managed to retain the OG Mini look. Needless to say, this trend has been carried in this current facelift and the updates now include redesigned grille, with a thin chrome strip running through its width. The headlights have integrated fog lamps; rather call it as the all-weather light-which is what BMW-owned MINI likes to call it. On the side, the turn indicators are now LEDs and are neatly integrated into the newfangled scuttle. At the rear, nothing much has changed except the redesigned bumpers that are in combination with the diffuser, making the MINI look sportier than ever at the rear. The tail lamps still retain the Union Jack motif and the soft convertible roof also gets the Union Jack print impression on it. Overall, the MINI Cooper S Convertible for me looks beautiful and surely is a head-turner that attracts everyone on the road while you pass them.
Under the hood, the MINI Cooper S Convertible retains the same 2-liter turbocharged petrol engine, that produces a peak output of 192bhp and 280Nm. The engine comes mated to a seven-speed DCT, while you also get an option of upgrading it to a seven-speed Sport DCT box as well. The engine in the MINI feels energetic, peppy, and can hit a ton in a claimed time of 7.1 seconds which I couldn’t test but I felt the Mini was much quicker than that. The Cooper S Convertible as per the brand claims can attain a top speed of 200kmph, and once behind the wheel, the journey to those digits was easy. The drive modes in the Cooper S have now been renamed to Green, MID, and Sport, where the Sport mode makes the Cooper S Convertible, an enthusiast's car to drive, allowing you to hold on to gears for a longer time. Honestly, I drove in this mode for whatever kilometers I did, enjoying the pops and crackles, while the rest of the two modes had a boring symphony. Of course, they are fuel-efficient, but this isn’t a car you are going to buy for that reason.
Comfort and Safety
The cabin of the MINI Cooper S Convertible is a fantastic place to be in. If you are a fan of toggle switches and buttons, then you would feel no less than a pilot in the cockpit. Various functions of the MINI are still being controlled by these switches, while the advancement of technology has certainly replaced some of these controls. Also, on the infotainment screen, the buttons have been replaced with touch options, and it still retains its signature circular screen, with integrated Apple CarPlay available as an option. From this screen, you can also control the Harman-Kardon sound system to enjoy some of your favorite tracks, which of course, I didn’t try. Why? Now who would listen to that thumping music when you have a burbly exhaust note? Well, I do not know about you but I didn’t! Now, about the front seats; they are quite comfortable and have adequate support for occupants of almost any size and frame. Speaking of which, a Mumbai-Pune drive made me think of it as a great and comfortable car, although it may seem or may have heard of a Mini as a car you wouldn’t want to take on long trips. At the back, adults may feel cramped but mind you, these are the seats that are best suited for kids.
And while at it, the Mini offers dual airbags, ABS, Cornering Brake System (CBS), Brake Assist, and Dynamic Stability Control systems for your safety. Our test car did have the optional reverse parking camera, which eased out the job quite efficiently, as with the convertible top down, you might face a lot of trouble without it. Overall though, the standard package of comfort and safety is adequate for a prospective buyer, while a long list of optional equipment is out there for your extra dose of comfort if it’s your requirement.
Ride and Handling
However, MINIs aren’t the cars for which a prospective buyer would prioritize comfort since it is a car for enthusiasts because it is a fun-to-drive car mainly. And, the new 17s alloys with low-profile tires do look like the ones that do not offer a dose of comfort. But, behind the wheel, I was surprised to see these 17-inches along with the well-tuned suspension setup ironing out the small bumps and broken patches of the road with ease. The steering feedback is top-notch, and the feedback is commendable. Though the steering has got some heft and you need to make a lot of inputs while parking and city drives, but these aren’t the things that would take your time in getting used to.
While the ride in the MINI was quite a great experience for me, the next big surprise was the excellent handling. The handling in the Cooper S Convertible was taut, and with sensitive and sharp steering I found it quite easy for maneuvering around the town. Mind you, even on the corners the MINI felt at home, and I enjoyed pushing it hard around those bends. Thanks to that aplenty of grip and highly efficient brakes that did not let me lose my confidence.
The MINI Cooper S Convertible in India comes at a sticker price of Rs 45.50 lakh (ex-showroom) through the CBU route. This price may look like a hefty amount to pay but it surely does come with the perks of an exclusively designed fun-to-drive car. Also, it does offer you the complete package of a small iconic car and a convertible, which has no other cars to go against the like of. Although, I believe, that if the pricing was competitive, there would have been a dent in the sales numbers as there is no other car like MINI around this range in India. Speaking of which, what we at Just Urbane always say is that a perfect balance between luxury and fun has no limitations, and even if you pay some more for the options for this, you would never regret it in my opinion.