Review: MINI Convertible (2016)
Four seats and a true convertible roof. Fun to drive. Good range of engines.
Creaky roof. Back seats are small. Gusty cabin with top down. Options can push up price.
MINI Convertible (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £20,980, brokers can source from £17,421
- Contract hire deals from £211.20 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 16–33
- On average it achieves 74% of the official MPG figure
The MINI Convertible is actually a unique car. Why? Well it has a fully-retractable roof and a pair of rear seats. The competition either have glorified, large sunroofs or, in the case of the Mazda MX-5, two fewer seats. Sadly, the MINI Convertible isn’t without its flaws, but that doesn't stop it being charming and likeable.
The fabric roof can be put up or down at up to 20mph and takes a 18 seconds, so it’s possible to raise it at a set of traffic lights if you get caught in the rain. With the roof down there’s a bit of bluster, but that’s all part of the experience - as is the fun handling, which is typical of all MINIs.
There are four engine options – Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper D and John Cooper Works. For most buyers the Cooper and Cooper D models will work perfectly fine, delivering punchy performance and affordable running costs. The Cooper S and JCW models are much more potent, with popping, burbling exhausts and quick acceleration.
Through corners the MINI Convertible is precise and nimble, with quick, well-weighted steering. That said, you can tell it’s less rigid than the hatchback – the body flexes a little over lumps and bumps. That is especially obvious with the roof up, since there are lots of creaks and rattles on rough roads or when tackling bends.
That’s a problem that doesn’t blight the excellent Mazda MX-5, which is more fun. But the Mazda has two fewer seats than the MINI. Those seats may be small, but for younger children they’re fine. They’re nicely trimmed, too – like the rest of the cabin, which feels upmarket and is packed with fun touches, like a toggle switch engine starter.
Boot space is sufficient for the average weekly shop or a trip away. The tailgate drops down and can be used as a picnic table when out and about, while part of the fabric roof can be lifted up to provide better access for loading and unloading. The seats fold, too – so fairly bulky items can be loaded without too much difficulty.
If you want real fun then a Mazda MX-5 or Fiat 124 is a better choice of soft top, but the MINI Convertible is a more practical choice that’s still enjoyable. It’s a true convertible, too, unlike the Fiat 500C and the DS 3 Cabriolet, plus there are dozens of customisation options and details to make it your own.
What does a MINI Convertible (2016) cost?
MINI Convertible (2016): What's It Like Inside?
The MINI Convertible feels much like the hatchback, with neat details like a big red toggle switch to start the engine and a big, circular display for audio and connectivity - controlled with a dial near the gear lever. Material quality is good on the whole, with plenty of soft touch plastics and, of course, lots of customisable details.
You can pick and choose from a huge range of upholstery finishes, colours and trim details, along with different inlays including wood, gloss and metal. There is far more breadth when it comes to customisation than buyers get with a Fiat 500 or DS 3 – neither of which has a true convertible roof.
The roof on the MINI Convertible takes 18 seconds to raise or lower and can be operated at up to 20mph, or part opened like a sunroof while on the move. When it’s up there are some creaks and squeaks, particularly over uneven or potholed roads - plus there’s some wind noise at high speeds - but it’s no worse than other convertibles.
There are back seats, which is a big advantage over the Mazda MX-5 and Fiat 124, but they aren’t all that useful. Adults will have a very hard time getting in unless front seat occupants have their seats as far forward as they can go, while even children will struggle for leg room with taller occupants up front.
That said, they do fold forward to provide a decent amount of load space. With the back seats in place and the roof up the boot has a capacity of 215 litres, which is enough for some baggage or a shopping trip. The tailgate folds down and part of the roof can be lifted out of the way to improve access. So, while it isn’t exactly a load-lugger, the MINI Convertible is surprisingly practical.
All versions come with air conditioning, a 6.5-inch screen, alloy wheels, a reversing camera, reversing sensors and Bluetooth connectivity. That leaves plenty of items on the options list, including two-zone climate control, navigation, heated front seats and the Chili Pack, which includes LED lights, interior lighting and cruise control. It's also worth noting that screen isn't touch operated.
MINI Convertible comes with alloy wheels (15-inch on Cooper and Cooper D, 16-inch on Cooper S and 17-inch on JCW), a 6.5-inch screen with rotary control, Bluetooth connectivity, USB audio connection, reversing sensors, reversing camera.
Child seats that fit a MINI Convertible (2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the MINI Convertible (2016) like to drive?
- Engines range from Cooper D to John Cooper Works Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 30–63 mpg
MINI sells the Convertible with a choice of four engines, all of which are impressive. The basic Cooper variant is a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol with peak power of 136PS. It’s surprisingly punchy, with 220Nm of torque from just 1250rpm, plus it has official economy of up to 57.6mpg and emits as little as 114g/km, making it cheap to run.
For most buyers it will be the perfect fit for the Convertible, providing ample performance and plenty of character. With the roof down it sounds good – the turbo whooshes and chirps and the exhaust note is purposeful. Overtaking performance is ample, while acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.8 seconds.
The 116PS Cooper D is a more sensible choice for high-mileage drivers. It’s almost as capable as the petrol in terms of performance, but it has official economy of up to 74.3mpg and emissions of as low as 100g/km, depending on specification. It doesn’t sound as good, though – which is likely to be off-putting to many convertible drivers.
For those who want real fun there is a Cooper S, with 192PS and a meaty 280Nm of torque. It’s capable of a swift 7.2 second 0-62mph sprint and it sounds great, with a burbling exhaust note. There’s also a quicker John Cooper Works version with 231PS, which sounds fantastic and provides serious performance, getting from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds.
Every version can be optionally equipped with a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. We’d recommend sticking to the manual if possible, though – since it has a neat feature that automatically rev matches when changing down through the gears, making smooth driving incredibly easy.
Around town the MINI Convertible feels small and manageable, but whether the roof is up or down rearward visibility is limited. Pleasingly reversing sensors and a rear camera are standard. Out of town the MINI is as fun to drive as you’d expect, with quick, precise steering and nimble, lively and agile handling. Ride quality is reasonable, if a little firm, yet it does a decent job of keeping roll in check through bends.
The Convertible isn't as fun to drive as a MINI hatch though. Taking the roof off has made the chassis less rigid, so it flexes and twists, albeit slightly, on rough roads, over speed bumps and when cornering. It’s never alarming, but it has the downside of making the roof creak, squeak and rattle when it is raised – which in Britain is likely to be most of the time.
|Cooper||50–58 mpg||8.8 s||114–130 g/km|
|Cooper 2018||50 mpg||8.8 s||119 g/km|
|Cooper Automatic||55 mpg||8.7 s||119 g/km|
|Cooper D||71 mpg||9.9 s||100 g/km|
|Cooper D Automatic||71 mpg||9.9 s||104 g/km|
|Cooper S||41–47 mpg||7.2 s||139–157 g/km|
|Cooper S 2018||42 mpg||7.2 s||144 g/km|
|Cooper S Automatic||49–50 mpg||7.1 s||131 g/km|
|Cooper S Steptronic||49–50 mpg||7.1–7.2 s||129–132 g/km|
|Cooper S Steptronic 2018||50–51 mpg||7.1 s||126 g/km|
|Cooper S Works||46 mpg||7.2 s||142 g/km|
|Cooper S Works Automatic||49 mpg||7.1 s||134 g/km|
|Cooper Steptronic||51–52 mpg||8.7 s||122–125 g/km|
|Cooper Steptronic 2018||52 mpg||8.7 s||118 g/km|
|John Cooper Works||44 mpg||6.6 s||152 g/km|
|John Cooper Works 2018||42 mpg||6.6 s||152 g/km|
|John Cooper Works Automatic||48 mpg||6.5 s||138 g/km|
|John Cooper Works Automatic 2018||48 mpg||6.5 s||136 g/km|
Real MPG average for a MINI Convertible (2016)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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