Mini Cooper S convertible 14 | 08 | 2010Scotcars rating

    Mini's stylish approach to wind-in-the-hair driving may not be cheap, but it's good


    There’s no denying the BMW-owned Mini has been a great success and the Germans have done a brilliant job revitalising a classic British car – probably the most iconic – into something which the world, or at least most of Europe, wants. The variants though have been a bit stickier on the acceptance front. The Clubman estate version is actually a very nice little car but hasn’t done as well as I’m sure the Mini men and women would have liked and came in for some unjustified criticism for its small third door opening on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. The original convertible also came as a shock to the traditionalists and comments such as “it looks like a pram” were some of the initial reactions.

    I have to confess I felt it looked a little bit messy, as though it was a bit of an adaptation rather than a properly thought-out design. For example, small details such as the large hinges on the boot lid never looked quite right. The latest version though has addressed these issues and what’s available now is something which does look right to the extent of also getting rid of the boot hinges and the former rollover hoops. They’re still there, but will only pop up if — God forbid — the worst happens.

    The car feels lively yet sure-footed on a range of surfaces

    On the road

    Behind the wheel the test car was a delight, but then it was the top of the range Cooper S with a Chili and Sport pack which gave it quite a boost in performance and looks but also added almost £7000 to the price! The weather wasn’t kind while I had the car but on one day of sunshine, even though the temperature was hovering around the 6-degs mark, I got the electric roof down with the press of one button, turned up the heater to full blast, and headed for the open road.

    It was great fun with little or no scuttle-shake or rattle and very little buffeting, even without the wind deflector. There’s a lovely rasp from the twin exhaust and I’m told that’s something the engineers specifically worked on. They’ve done a good job all round and the car feels lively yet sure-footed on a range of surfaces. With the roof up it’s a touch noisy, but that’s a common trait of soft-tops.

    Comfort & Safety

    It’s a comfortable car for the two occupants in the front but the rear is only suitable for the very junior members of the family, or a very small amount of luggage. I actually felt it was a bit cramped in the driver’s seat, even with the seat on the furthest-back setting and I got more than a little frustrated with some of the controls. Quite simply, there was too much in this car which was crammed with options and I just felt it was too busy.

    I got annoyed with the small joy stick which takes you to the navigation, entertainment and communication settings and is a variation of what you can find in the larger BMWs. Undoubtedly if I owned the car, I would get used to the system over a period of time but it did take a lot of getting used to. The boot is very small and struggled to accommodate my admittedly large briefcase; but it’s not practical for even a small family.

    Should I buy one?

    If you like the wind in your hair, then you could do worse than go for the Mini. It’s not the cheapest, but it is well-built and is more stylish than most of the competition.

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £19,940 / £25.450
    Engine / Power: 1598cc / 175bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 7.4sec, Max 138mph
    How big/heavy?: H1414mm W1913mm L3714mm / 1305kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 42.8mpg / CO2 153g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 16E / Band G, £150
    Alternatives: Mazda MX-5; Fiat 500C; Peugeot 207CC

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