Preaching to the convertible: MINI is great fun but watch out for price
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
I know it is not exactly the best time of the year to be driving or writing about a convertible, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
Regardless of the time of year, the MINI Cooper Convertible is a hell of a drive.
It is also, regrettably, a hell of a price.
But that's what you pay for a pocket rocket that manages 136bhp from its splendid 3-cyl petrol engine (1,499cc). The entry level MINI One version pumps 102bhp.
I have to say the Cooper model felt far more sprightly than was suggested by the 8.8 secs it officially takes to get to 0-100kmh.
And like all MINIs it begged to be driven which explains why I fell far short of the claimed fuel consumption figures of 4.9 litres/100km (57.6mpg). Emissions of 118 g/km invoke a road tax of €200.
Prices for the Cooper start at €26,880. But they go up quicker than the drop-top roof when you add the likes of Caribbean Aqua metallic paint (€569), leather (€1,212) and other options such as Media Pack, MINI sat nav XL, CHILLI Pack - Sport steering wheel, 17in alloys, front sports seats, automatic headlights, LED lights; and wind deflector. Total price? €37,858.
I'd be lying if I said that didn't affect my attitude to the car.
My instinct was to dismiss it as irrelevant. And for the vast majority of us it is: that sort of money will get you a cracking family SUV/crossover.
Of course that is to miss the point completely and I only use the comparison for overall context - not the one in which this will be bought.
This is for those who love and can afford the charm of a MINI with the possibility of the hood down. Yet even when the weather doesn't favour that mode, they are still assured of a sharp, crisp and sometimes genuinely exciting drive.
Yes, there were times I'd have liked the suspension to be a little more pliant and forgiving. And I undoubtedly wished for better noise insulation, especially from those large lorries that seemed to draw alongside so often at traffic lights. Mercy, but they made a racket.
Not only that, but with the hood down I tended to get a real 'flavour' of the fumes from every banger in town.
It can be alarming when driving with the 'wind in your hair' to realise just what is being emitted into the atmosphere.
Mostly I was at one remove from it because the weather didn't exactly entice me to let in 'fresh' air too often.
But as far as the car was concerned, it was, as if so often the case, impossible not to get a kick out of the drive. I know there are more powerful and quicker versions of this but how much more do you realistically need to squirt around?
Make no mistake the car's ability to hug bend and road was outstanding, in true MINI fashion.
And yes, it felt all the better and more immediate with the roof down.
It really is a fun car in its own right and one that highlights what a great chassis underpins the MINI across the board.
I know I'm too hung up on price (especially the test-car tag) and maybe I'm being too practical about a motor that isn't meant to justify itself on such grounds.
Sadly, for a car such as this expensive MINI convertible that does reflect most people's perspective.
But for the lucky few who can afford both to ignore the practicalities and the price I say - go have some fun.