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Mini Cooper S Convertible 2016 review

Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2016 Mini Cooper S convertible with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

The Cooper S convertible is open to the elements but you can have a civilised chat on the highway

What's the difference between a cabriolet and a convertible? For Mini, it’s more than just the name.

The new convertible — which takes the place of the previous model cabriolet — has plenty to differentiate it.

Not only is it more than $5000 cheaper but it also rides better, has more space for occupants and luggage and the fit and finish are a step up, too.

Toss in such practical additions as moving the window switches on to the doors and a boot that’s 45L bigger and the convertible morphs from a niche player to a half-decent option for those who fancy the German-owned but still British-built brand.


In outright terms this Mini is 98mm longer and 44mm wider for better space in all areas. However, rear legroom is still seriously challenging for a pair of adults for any length of time. The boot, though bigger than before, is still tiny.

Beyond the growth spurt, the convertible claims a soft-top roof that can open and shut in 18 seconds at up to 30km/h.

A secondary sunroof function isn’t as successful given the exposed air above the front seats causes the fabric to ripple and bring some turbulence in the cabin. It depends on the wind but you’re better off opting for top-down driving.

The auto transmission has virtually no lag taking off from lights and is reasonably smart at serving up the right ratio for the throttle pressure

Constant freeway speeds may cause you to fit the easily installed rear wind deflector, though it comes at the expense of carrying occupants in the back.

Unfortunately a lot of the deft touches in the cabin are optional and it’s easy to rack up a big bill if you want a Mini with the works. One test car that went through the CarsGuide garage had more than $13,000 worth of options, pushing the price tag over $50,000.

Around town

The natural environment of a soft-top is urban cruising and the Mini is day-to-day liveable with the top up or down. Expansion joints — the strips on bridges and elevated road sections — are felt more than in a sedan but the slap isn’t sports car harsh.

Corrugations are less forgiving and induce some kick through the steering wheel. Most won’t notice because they’ll be too busy looking at who is looking at them.

The auto transmission has virtually no lag taking off from lights and is reasonably smart at serving up the right ratio for the throttle pressure.

The four-cylinder engine has a steady mid-range surge that encourages finding the roads less travelled and trafficked. 

The front seats now slide farther forward to improve access to the rear even if there is no elegant way to get into the back of a two-door car. The bottom-hinged boot takes some getting used to, though and, as with most convertibles, loses volume when the roof is down.

The other more serious compromise that comes with top-down motoring is the lack of rear vision. The roof folds away but doesn’t disappear, leaving you with a sizeable lump behind the rear seats that makes changing lanes a bit hit and miss.

On the road

The slightly higher wind rush at freeway speeds is the only indication this isn’t a regular Mini when the top is up. Fold it down and extra bracing helps quell the flexing of windscreen and doors over bumps on all but the worst surfaces or more willing drives.

At anything up to freeway speeds, wind noise isn’t a shouting proposition, though you will hear the occasional rattle and squeak as the fabric roof and body interact over big bumps.

It now permits a civilised conversation at triple-digit speeds but you’ll still get the customary noise intrusion from adjacent traffic.

The four-cylinder engine has a steady mid-range surge that encourages finding the roads less travelled and trafficked. There really is an appeal about cruising through a national park with the smell of eucalypts in the cabin (road kill less so).

That is complemented by a sporty burble and occasional crack bouncing back off the trees when you change gears under full power in “sport” mode. Super sharp steering adds to the go-kart feel and the ride isn’t as jarring as the previous model.

As good as the Cooper S engine is, I’d seriously consider the base Cooper convertible — and the $7500 saving — if the Mini’s primary function is urban cruising. The Cooper S uses a fair bit of fuel when pushed and the small 44L fuel tank restricts your range.


The Mini convertible is a better drive and better value than ever before. All buyers need now is some sunshine to enjoy it in.

Would the Cooper S be your convertible of choice? Let us know in the comments below.

Click here to see more Year Make Model Variant pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
Highest Price

Range and Specs

Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $23,700 – 32,120 2016 Mini Cabrio 2016 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper JCW 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,500 – 37,730 2016 Mini Cabrio 2016 Cooper JCW Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $24,900 – 33,000 2016 Mini Cabrio 2016 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
Cooper S Highgate 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $28,600 – 37,950 2016 Mini Cabrio 2016 Cooper S Highgate Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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