2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible: German engineering plus iconic British charm equals fun

    Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 6 months ago

    They’re petite (hence the name), iconic and fantastic for weaving through streets of Italy with a trunk full of stolen booty. The original Mini made a name for itself as a fashionable, stylish, innovative, but most of all, affordable car for the masses. It set much of the groundwork for the compact vehicle class and featured a number of technical innovations that were not just impressive for the time, but remain clever to this day. After BMW took ownership and began manufacturing the one diminutive British icon, the car became noticeably larger and heavier, with more focus on creature comforts and arguably less on innovation. Despite the added heft, BMW sought to retain the original fun, sporty and cheerful nature of the Mini, and we think this topless S Convertible succeeded.

    Finished in a striking ‘Starlight Blue’ paint, this Mini Cooper S convertible is a special edition, named after the paint it bears. The Starlight Blue edition Cooper S features some unique touches aside from its blue coat. It’ll also feature some unique 17-inch wheels and black trim on the grille, headlights and taillights. While these features are unique to the Starlight Blue edition, the ‘regular’ Minis will also see updated taillights featuring the Union Jack – a nod to the car’s British origins.

    Under the Mini’s hood is a 2.0L turbocharged engine good for 189 horsepower. In this example, it’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, but a manual is available for the purists out there. Both gearboxes will get you from 0-100 in a hair over 7 seconds, and while the automatic is 0.1 of a second faster, the manual is, subjectively, more fun. Being a Cooper S, you also get some upgrades over the base model, including selectable drive types like Sport and Green, as well as sportier seats with bigger bolsters.

    Manual or auto, the Mini Cooper S is a blast to drive. Don’t expect to make a getaway through the winding streets of Italy in this one though. As great as it is going topless, the Mini loses some of the tight handling feel you might expect in such a compact car. It’s not awful by any means but it always seems to feel like the weight of the car is sloshing around with each hard corner. But we find it highly unlikely anyone who buys one of these would take it to the track or drive it like they were starring in The Italian Job. For a spirited top down drive, it’s genuinely good fun. Flick the (sometimes tricky to reach) Sport switch and listen as the exhaust snaps, crackles and pops louder than your favourite crisped rice cereal. It’s hard not to be happy behind the wheel.

    Wind noise, like with almost any convertible, will be far more noticeable, even with the fabric roof up. As well, because this Mini has to make room for the folding roof, you’re also losing some cargo space in the back. It’s doubtful any Cooper S buyers would treat this as a family vehicle, but it’s worth mentioning the back seats are also rather cramped.

    A Mini Cooper S Convertible starts at $33,990 in Canada. The Starlight Blue package featured on our tester adds another $2,900 to the price tag. As well, adding the automatic transmission pouts on another $1,400. All in, our Cooper S, as tested, came in at $38,290, putting it in territory like the Mazda MX-5 GT and the Abarth 124 Spider. But as with cars in this class, it’s easy to knock several thousands off the price tag depending on what options you need. The Cooper S Convertible doesn’t feel as tight or as purposeful as the Mazda or Abarth, but it’s still undeniably fun, more luxurious and even has a back seat. 

    Mini, Mini Cooper, The Italian Job, BMW, British Cars, German Cars, Mini Cooper, Cooper S, Convertible, Topless

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