2018 Mini Convertible

2018 MINI Convertible Review

The Mini Convertible impresses with lively handling, a high-quality interior and classic charm.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

As its name suggests, the 2018 Mini Convertible is the drop-top version of the two-door Mini Hardtop. It has the same fun-to-drive nature as the Hardtop, but its power-operated soft top gives you the option of warming up to the sun's rays.

As with all other Minis, the Convertible's base price is just a jumping-off point to a list of seemingly endless options. Check enough boxes and the price escalates with shocking quickness. But the Mini's extensive paint, interior and performance combinations are also what set it apart, giving owners a degree of personalization unlike any others. Want 18-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, and taillights with an inset Union Jack design? Done.

But at its core, the Mini Convertible is an exceptionally fun car to drive, whether it's powered by the base three-cylinder engine, the 189-horsepower midlevel engine, or the highly caffeinated 228-hp turbo four-cylinder in the John Cooper Works trim. The Mini always feels playful and engaging, its tires firmly embedded in the asphalt. The trade-off is a firm, and at times harsh ride, especially with larger wheels.

And so while no other small convertible can match the Mini's level of customization, there are others worth considering, notably the Fiat 124 Spider, Mazda MX-5 Miata and even the Volkswagen Beetle convertible. But even among this group, the Mini Convertible's charm and likability stand out. It's that good.



what's new

New standard equipment for the 2018 Mini Convertible includes a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Otherwise, it carries over unchanged.

we recommend

The turbocharged three-cylinder engine in the base Mini Convertible packs surprisingly peppy power, enough for most daily driving and occasional open-road lawlessness. Unless you crave the extra performance of the S or John Cooper Works trims, stick with the base Cooper trim and enhance it with the Premium or the Technology package.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Mini Convertible is a compact convertible that seats four and is available in base (Cooper), Cooper S and high-performance John Cooper Works trims. The base Cooper trim serves as a great starting point for customization, but the attractive base price can escalate quickly as you tack on desirable options. The Cooper S adds larger wheels and more power and performance, while the John Cooper Works is the highest performer of the bunch, with a cranked-up turbo engine and a sport-tuned suspension.

The base Cooper starts with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine (134 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional.

Standard features include a power-operated fabric convertible roof (with sunrooflike function), 15-inch alloy wheels, an electronic limited-slip differential, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, push-button ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cooled glovebox, cruise control, premium vinyl upholstery, and 50/50-split folding rear seatbacks. Technology highlights include a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, smartphone app integration, a 6.5-inch display screen, and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary input jack.

The Cooper S adds a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (189 hp, 207 lb-ft of torque), a hood scoop, dual center-mounted exhaust tips, 16-inch wheels with run-flat tires (regular tires are optional), LED foglights and sport front seats.

The John Cooper Works trim ratchets up the performance index with a hotter turbo four-cylinder engine (228 hp, 236 lb-ft), 17-inch wheels, upgraded Brembo front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, LED headlights, an aerodynamic body kit, a rear spoiler, a sport steering wheel, and special seats with cloth upholstery. The standard suspension is available as a no-cost option for the JCW.

There are many stand-alone options, but most are bundled into packages. The Premium package consists of keyless entry, heated front seats, satellite radio, auto-dimming mirrors, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The Sport package includes adjustable suspension dampers, a choice of 17- or 18-inch wheels, sport seats, and LED headlights and foglights. The Technology package bundles a self-parking system with front and rear parking sensors, a navigation system, a touchpad controller, and an 8.8-inch display screen. The Fully Loaded package combines all three packages. John Cooper Works interior and exterior packages are also available. As the package names suggest, they kit out the two lower trim levels with a choice of leather cabin materials and JCW performance parts.

Notable stand-alone options include adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and various combinations of cloth or leather upholstery. Even more personalization is available through a large selection of custom details such as hood stripes, mirror cap choices and special interior trim pieces.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Mini Convertible has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Mini Convertible.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling4.5 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0
Climate control3.5 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position4.5 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

2.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage2.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine might not boast impressive stats on paper (189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque), but the Mini's relatively light weight makes it feel quick. There's not much body roll, and you can chuck it around tight turns in classic Mini fashion.

Acceleration

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Since peak torque output occurs very low in the rev range, the Cooper S always feels like a quick squeeze of the gas is all you need to shoot through a gap or overtake a vehicle on the highway. It feels stronger than our so-so 0-60 mph track time of 6.8 seconds, which was limited by traction issues.

Braking

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The Cooper slows smoothly thanks to a predictable and progressive brake pedal. Our simulated-panic stop from 60 mph netted a remarkably short stopping distance of 101 feet. That's a similar distance to true sports cars such as the Porsche Boxster S.

Steering

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The steering effort is light in Normal drive mode, graduating to a heavier weight in Sport mode. The steering response is quick and direct, which is great in parking lots and tight corners alike. But those quick responses do make the Mini feel a bit darty on the highway.

Handling

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This is why you bought a Mini. Its short footprint, quick reflexes and grippy tires make it an absolute joy to toss around a corner. The excellent stability control calibration lets you explore the limits of the Mini's grip before it gently reins you in.

Drivability

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Although it requires a light amount of effort to modulate, the clutch makes it somewhat difficult to find the engagement point. The tall shifter is easy to grab, but throws are unusually long and the shift gates aren't well defined.

Comfort

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Though no Mini could ever truly be called comfortable, the Cooper S Convertible isn't punishing given its level of performance. The adaptive suspension dampers help smooth out the ride, and there's ample seat cushioning. Great efforts have been made to keep the cabin quiet, even at highway speeds.

Seat comfort

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The wonderfully supportive sport seats offer lumbar and seat-height adjustments, and there's even an extendable thigh cushion. Long-distance trips will be no problem. Larger drivers might feel confined by the narrow side bolsters.

Ride comfort

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The ride in the Cooper S is predictably short-legged and stiff, more so than the base model. We can forgive the Cooper S somewhat since it is the sportier model and the ride matches its intentions. Caution: It would be even worse if the wheels were larger than our tester's 17-inch alloys.

Noise & vibration

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Lifting off the gas in Sport mode produces a satisfying burble from the exhaust. There's some wind and tire noise, but the Mini is very quiet for a convertible. We're quite impressed with the Mini's rigid body structure. It feels very stout even when driving over bumps and train tracks.

Climate control

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Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard across the board, and the fans aren't overly loud as they work to keep the cabin at a comfortable temperature. Strangely, temperature adjustments can be made only in 2-degree increments.

Interior

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Its high roof and height-adjustable front seats mean that even taller occupants can fit in the Mini without difficulty — in the front anyway. There's almost no rear legroom. Since you won't be using the back seat much, it's best to remove those headrests for a better view out the small rear window.

Ease of use

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Controls are all within the driver's reach, and the instrument panel tilts with the steering wheel so the driver information screen is always visible. The low-mounted infotainment controller is difficult to use, especially with the center armrest obstructing access.

Getting in/getting out

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The doors open wide, and the opening is tall and squared-off, so most people won't have trouble getting in or out of the front seats. Those seats don't fold forward much, however, so getting into the back with the top up is a challenge.

Driving position

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Given the wide range of seat adjustments, it's easy to find a suitable driving position. The steering wheel telescopes a fair amount, and there's plenty of seat travel. Taller drivers won't have headroom issues with the seats lowered to the floor.

Roominess

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As its name suggests, the Mini's cabin is quite compact. There's enough head- and legroom up front for tall occupants to relax without feeling confined, but they will have to cozy up side to side. Rear legroom is nearly nonexistent, so the back is really suitable only for small children.

Visibility

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Visibility out the front and sides is excellent thanks to an upright windshield and tall windows. But the Convertible's undersized rear window and visually intrusive backseat headrests limit the view out the back. The top folds into a small hump that also cuts into rear visibility.

Quality

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The interior materials are better than what you'll find in other compact cars. There's extensive use of soft-touch plastic and the leather upholstery feels BMW-grade. But when the Mini Convertible hits bumps, certain elements of the cabin respond with rattles and quakes.

Convertible top

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Press and hold the interior toggle switch to fold the Mini's soft top back to a sunroof-size opening. Release and hold it again to drop the soft top completely. The folding operation can also be completed with the key fob, but the signal range is short.

Utility

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You shouldn't buy a Mini Convertible if practicality is a deciding factor. Storage space in the cabin and trunk is very limited, and even fitting small suitcases will be a challenge with the rear seats up. Maximize your carrying capacity by treating the rear bench as a cargo shelf.

Small-item storage

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There are three cupholders in the cabin: two in front of the shifter and one between the rear seats. There's not much room in the door pockets, central armrest or glovebox. The dashboard cubby on the hardtop is nonfunctional in the Convertible.

Cargo space

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The cargo area is very small, and it gets even smaller when you put the top down. The small trunklid folds down to create access, and the rear edge of the soft top can be unlatched and hinged up to increase the size of the opening.

Child safety seat accommodation

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The back row has two pairs of LATCH anchors and two hooks on the seatbacks. The anchors are concealed under easily accessible and removable plastic covers. The main difficulty comes with trying to mount or access the car seat if the top is up.

Technology

You control the infotainment system through a control knob, which is derived from BMW's iDrive. The system is easy to use and features crisp graphics. But any now common safety aids such as blind-spot and lane departure warning are absent, as is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.