Derek Ogden road tests and reviews the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Like a family of overachievers, the Mini continues to throw pups of outstanding pedigree. The latest offspring to plough a precocious furrow through the automotive paddock is the convertible.

The third generation Mini convertible takes the place of the cabriolet and comes in Cooper and Cooper S specification, priced from $37,900 and $45,400, plus on-road costs, respectively. That’s $4800 less for Cooper and $5750 for Cooper S compared with the superseded cabrio.

Our test vehicle came with Convenience and Multimedia Pro packages, hoicking the price to $56,030, plus on-roads.

Styling

From all angles this is a Mini. And with that comes the good and the bad. Longer and wider than its predecessor, the new convertible maintains the classic lines of the Mini, down to the retractable textile roof which mimics the characteristics of the hard top.

Solid rollover hoops are replaced by a new fully integrated ‘invisible’ rollover protection system.

The ‘Minimalism’ extends to the profile with short overhangs and chrome band along the shoulder line, the car’s stretched silhouette further accentuated when the soft top is in its stowed spot behind the rear seats.

The test car wore a black soft top with union jack pattern in relief, a $900 option, one of the many helping the Mini make a special statement.

This time around, solid rollover hoops are replaced by a new fully integrated ‘invisible’ rollover protection system that automatically deploys when the car’s safety sensors detect the risk of a rollover.

Large circular chrome-trimmed headlights and hexagonal grille put on a classic Mini face, with the sporting flavour of the Cooper S enhanced by the large air intake, bonnet scoop and brake air ducts, while tail lights cling to the outer edges of the car’s rear to emphasise its low, wide stance, with the sporty Cooper S once again defined by central chrome twin tailpipes and integrated diffuser in the rear bumper.

Interior

The premium high performance nature had the new Mini Cooper S convertible featuring big-bolstered sports front seats with optional Chester Malt Brown leather finished in a diamond pattern with contrast piping, a three-spoke John Cooper Works multifunction steering wheel with gearshift paddles and contrast red stitching for the leather wrap, and Black Chequered trim highlights.

Features

The Multimedia Pro Package ($2700), included in the test vehicle, added Navigation System Professional with 8.8-inch monitor, head-up display, Harman/Kardon 12-speaker audio, and DAB+ digital radio.

Engines / Transmissions

The Mini Cooper S Convertible is powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo petrol engine putting 141 kW from 5000 to 6500 rpm and peak torque of 280 Nm between 1250 and 4000 rpm, with 300 Nm on overboost. This is six kW and 40 Nm more than the previous generation Mini Cooper S cabrio.

Driving the front wheels, the engine is mated to an updated six-speed sports automatic transmission offering smooth, fast gear changes with steering wheel mounted gearshift paddles for manual mode and a Launch Control function for optimised acceleration off the line.

Safety

Safety systems including dynamic stability control with anti-lock braking, cornering brake control, dynamic traction control, electronic differential lock control, dry braking function and fading compensation help to provide safe driving.

The Convenience Package ($1800) on the test car added forward collision warning, city braking, high beam assist, active cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring and LED headlights with adaptive cornering function.

Driving

A Mini by name, a Mini by nature, the convertible while carrying four seats, realistically is a 2+2. The driver and front passenger are ensconced in comfy, supportive sports-style leather covered seats, while back-seat occupants, despite expanded cabin dimensions, are left with sparse space, especially for the legs.

The two-door nature too has its drawbacks, with entry and exit to the back being accompanied by various uncomfortable contortions, especially with the roof up.

The larger Mini Convertible has increased luggage space that can be further expanded courtesy of the 50/50-split fold rear seat backs, and the load-through facility has been widened. The tailgate opens downwards and can support up to 80kg.

The roof can be fully lowered or raised in about 18 seconds via the toggle switch on the front roof frame up to 30 km/h, or using the remote control key fob. It also acts as a sunroof, the front section retracting to any position up to 400 mm.

The range of switches, buttons, knobs and toggles can at first be a bit daunting, but with repeated use everything falls into place for easy operation. For example, the head-up display can be brought into play simply by the press of a button at the foot of the centre stack.

Calling on some of the best of BMW technology, the Mini Cooper S convertible puts on quite a show for a little car. Absent is the body flexing found on drop-tops of old; a rigid body structure with special bracing plus McPherson struts at the front and multilink rear suspension see to that. Responsive Servotronic electric power steering and wheels following the Mini tradition of being close to the four corners of the car deliver a dynamic ride.

Flick a switch directly behind the gearshift and the Mini morphs from an Eco warrior to hot hatch – claiming 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres combined fuel consumption (Green) to clocking 7.1 seconds for the run from rest to 100 kilometres per hour (Sport).

On test the Mini Cooper S Convertible, in Mid mode, clocked up to 13 litres per 100 kilometres in suburban stop / start traffic and hovered around five litres in a motorway stint.