Motoring: 2017 MINI Cooper S Convertible: Strong in any type of weather
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
The 2017 MINI Cooper S Convertible is a strong car in any weather that Canada may throw your way and is not even that expensive.
Take the MINI Cooper S Convertible for example; yes, it would be most ideal to use in 30 degree Celsius weather, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used in negative 30 degree weather. It is a MINI after all, and that means, phenomenal traction, no matter what the road conditions are, and couple that with a strong heater and heated seats, and you really could use it on even the harshest of cold days. I surely did because the week I had the car, the weather dipped well below zero. Surprisingly, it also climbed well into the plus-teens by the weekend, so I could actually drop the top and take in some rays.
Dropping that top is quite easy; all you have to do is reach out for the button that operates the roof, and it folds away. Unlike most convertible set ups, the MINI Convertible allows you to open just the front portion of the roof, acting like a sunroof. Flick the switch again, and the whole roof goes down.
Just like the previous-generation MINI Cooper Convertible, airflow is beautifully managed when the roof is down, so while you do get the wind in your hair, it doesn’t beat you up. If you want the airflow to be cleaned up even more, just raise all the windows with the touch of a single switch, and you can also slot in a wind deflector behind the front seats.
So, as a convertible, it works quite well; but what’s it like to drive?
Well, ever since the new generation of MINI’s, under BMW ownership, hit the market back in 2002, they were praised for their handling ability. Show a MINI a corner, and it’ll go around it as if it was set on rails. Even the convertible, which has a slightly more flexible frame goes through corners with beautiful composure; these cars are simply a joy to drive on twisty back roads.
Is there a drawback?
Yes, the ride quality is a bit harsh. Since this is a short-wheelbase car, with stiff suspension the compromise is made with ride comfort. On a carpet smooth road it rides just fine, but on city streets with tar strips, potholes and railroad tracks, the ride is not what you’d call smooth. However, to be fair, compared to other sporty vehicles in this segment, the MINI is not much worse than the competition.
A huge advantage the MINI Convertible has is powertrain options. The 2017 Cooper Convertible is available with three power outputs. There is the base, turbocharged 1.5-litre, three-cylinder motor that makes 134 horsepower and 162 pounds per foot of torque, which is quite a peppy motor.
My tester was a Cooper S model, which means it had a turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor, which is good for 189 horsepower and 207 pounds per foot of torque. The range-topping model is the John Cooper Works edition, which takes the turbocharged 2.0-litre motor, and tunes it up to 228 horsepower and 236 pounds per foot of torque.
I certainly wasn’t complaining about my Cooper S tester, which in ‘Sport’ mode was more than quick enough for any road, zero to 100 kilometres per hour in 7.1 seconds, a top speed of 230 kilometres per hour and it sounds great while doing it. Couple that with what has got to be the finest six-speed manual gearbox in the business and you’ve got yourself a little rocket ship in a straight line that, thanks to its wonderful chassis and suspension set up, can carry the speed into the corners. Hand on my heart, I have driven cars costing three times as much, which weren’t as much fun to drive as this Cooper S Convertible.
Price, you ask?
A base model Cooper Convertible is yours from $28,490. The Cooper S version starts from $32,740, while the John Cooper Works model will set you back $40,240.
Given the performance of these vehicles, along with the fit and finish, this is a beautifully made car with simply wonderful seats, and has all the infotainment technology you’ll ever need, the MINI Convertible is an excellent toy car that you can actually use every day of the year, no matter what the weather is doing. Furthermore, it is not even expensive to run, since I averaged 8.5 litre per 100 kilometres during my test week.
I would personally love to own a MINI Cooper Convertible, and if possible, I’d go for the full enchiladas, and get the JCW model because nothing south of $50,000 will give you as much thrills.