2017 MINI Convertible Review
Pros & Cons
- All available engines blend quickness and fuel efficiency
- Nimble handling keeps the Mini glued to the road
- Lots of available add-ons mean a high degree of personalization
- Interior looks classy and upscale
- Ride can be stiff and jittery, especially with larger tires
- More expensive than most rivals
- Extremely limited cargo capacity
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2017 Mini Convertible's small size and light weight contribute to excellent handling characteristics. This car is fun to drive no matter which engine powers it. Even just zipping around town, it feels playful and engaging, and parking in tight spots is a cinch. Along curvy roads, the Convertible feels taut and tenacious, clawing for grip with rare enthusiasm. It's not as communicative or balanced as the rear-drive Mazda MX-5, but it's still one of the more entertaining cars for the money.
The trade-off for its exhilarating driving dynamics is a firm ride that borders on harsh when ordered with larger wheels. This is particularly true for the JCW and its standard sport-tuned suspension. Ordering the adaptive suspension dampers for the JCW is highly recommended, as we've found them to noticeably smooth out the ride. The Convertible is surprisingly quiet at highway speeds, although we've heard many interior panels squeak and creak over hard bumps.
The base three-cylinder engine provides impressive power considering its diminutive size. It loses some steam at higher rpm, but for most drivers it's a very solid pick. Both turbocharged four-cylinder engines have the Mini punching above its class, allowing it to keep up with larger cars such as the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The automatic transmission is smooth and shifts quickly, while the manual can be a bit difficult to drive because of its vague clutch action, long throws and imprecise gates. The automatic engine stop-start function can be distractingly rough as it brings the engine back to life after a stop. Fortunately, it's easy to disable via a toggle switch, and the car remembers your preference between drives.
Step into the 2017 Mini Convertible and you'll find a cabin with materials of a higher quality than those in other subcompact cars. Soft-touch plastics coat the doors and dashboard, which can be customized with several different trim coverings. Ambient lighting on the doors changes color depending on which driving mode is selected.
The Mini's controls are easy to reach, and the toggle switches on the lower part of the center stack are a cool touch. We like the Convertible's easy-to-read gauges, and the available 8.8-inch central display screen is notable for its sophisticated feature set and exceptionally crisp graphics. Similar to BMW's iDrive, the display is operated by a controller knob on the center console. It takes some time to learn how to use, but overall it's a comprehensive and very useful system. One downside is that when you lower the center armrest, it's nearly impossible to reach the low-mounted infotainment controller.
As for the Convertible's top, press and hold the unlock button on your key fob or use the toggle switch inside the car to operate the soft top. Hold once to open the area above the front seat occupants' heads for a sunroof effect, and release and hold again for the full open-air experience. The top folds down on top of the trunk rather than into it, so there's a little bit of a hump that impedes your view when looking straight back. Top-up visibility for the driver is also subpar due to the top's design and its small rear window.
The Convertible's front seats offer firm support and an ideal driving position, but rear passenger space is pretty tight. Little kids should have enough room for their legs, but that's about it. Trunk space is extremely limited as well, at just 7.6 cubic feet of storage. The cargo opening is small, although interior release handles allow the bottom of the soft top to be folded up, increasing the opening for larger items.