There are a lot of reasons to like the Mini Convertible: It's good fun to drive, easy to park, and cheap to run, and its cabin offers a near-luxury experience. Plus, the roof folds down, which makes any car more enjoyable. But what really sets the Mini Convertible apart are the options for customization. Whether you want leather seats, an adaptive suspension or side-view mirrors painted up like British flags, Mini is happy to oblige. When it comes to having it your way, no other small convertible can match the Mini: There are millions of possible combinations, and they are limited only by your budget.
Besides customization, there are a lot of reasons to recommend the Mini Convertible, chief among them the powertrain lineup. Engine choices include a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder that produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque and a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, tuned for 189 hp and 207 lb-ft in the Cooper S. In the John Cooper Works edition, the 2.0-liter engine packs 228 hp and 236 lb-ft. All provide plenty of power and all are reasonably fuel-efficient, with EPA ratings ranging from a high of 32 mpg combined (28 city/37 highway) for the three-cylinder manual down to 25 mpg combined for the John Cooper Works manual.
And the Mini offers plenty of grip to go with its zip. Some cars hug the road; the Mini feels as if it was glued there. Small and light, the Mini Convertible is a big-time smile generator in the curves and very easy to park in town. The convertible is surprisingly quiet with the top down. The one caveat is that the ride can be very harsh, especially if you order your Mini Convertible with larger wheels and/or the sport-tuned suspension. The John Cooper Works model is particularly hard-riding, but the optional adaptive suspension helps a great deal.
The cabin is nicely finished, built with materials significantly better than what we're used to seeing in a subcompact car. The gauges are crisp, and we love the big 8-inch central display screen. Front seating is excellent, but this being a convertible, there are trade-offs: The backseat and the trunk are tiny. Visibility to the rear is restricted when the top is up.
Mini offers the Convertible in three trim levels. The Cooper is nicely outfitted and affordable, provided you go easy on the options. The Cooper S adds more power and a sportier demeanor. The John Cooper Works turns the Mini Convertible into a road-going racer. From there, you'll have a plethora of stand-alone options available to create the Mini you like best. Edmunds can help find your perfect 2017 Mini Convertible.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.