FIRST DRIVE Verdict as drop-top gets same tweaks as Hatch
THE updates to the MINI Hatch (driven in Issue 1,517) have also found their way on to the Convertible. For 2018, the drop-top gets a tweaked look and new tech, as well as more scope for personalisation than ever before.
Like the Hatch, the Convertible’s facelift is subtle. At the front there are new headlamps and daytime running lights, while at the rear you’ll notice the standard (in the UK, at least) Union flag LEDS.
The MINI’S expansive use of chrome can be toned down if you add the black exterior pack, while winged badges, fresh colours and extra wheel designs also feature. The hatchback’s 3D-printed nameplates and dash trims are available.
Standard kit includes a multifunction steering wheel and a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, while a sat-nav system with connected services joins the options list. Aside from our car’s new auto box, that’s the sum total of the changes.
We tried the Cooper S, which is still a hoot to drive. Lopping the roof off has done little to water down the fun; while most cabrios suffer the inherent consequences of decapitation, MINI’S engineers have done an excellent job in preventing too much body wobble.
That new (£1,700) seven-speed dual-clutch box is a big improvement over the old auto. It provides rapid-fire changes when you’re driving quickly, or seamless shifts when cruising.
The Cooper S is a cracker. Its 2.0-litre engine serves up 189bhp and it sits nicely between the Cooper and JCW. The chassis is agile and the steering has a lovely connected feel. Switch to Sport mode and you’ll notice a few crackles added to the exhaust’s rorty note.
The only real gripes are rear visibility when the roof is down, and wind noise with the hood raised. The boot is measly, too, while space in the back is poor.
Cooper S drop-top is great fun to drive and new auto box is better than old one
Rear visibility is restricted with roof down; it’s one of our few grumbles