In life there are some things that just go together, classic parings that should never be apart. Salt and pepper, knife and fork, fine whine and cheese. Another inseparable combination is a bright sunny day and a convertible. The UK is actually one of the leading markets for buying such cars which is odd considering the vast amount of rain it receives. But when the sun is out the roof is down! The best selling drop-top in the United Kingdom for the past 10 years has been the Mini Convertible and so this all-new model has to hit the ground running. Unfortunately the weather back home is its usual unpredictable self and so we are in Portugal driving the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible Open 150.
Clearly this car was always going to carry the matured looks of the latest generation Mini. Traditional traits such as those lovable round headlights and proportions, that can only be associated with a Mini, are present and correct. We managed to bag the keys to this very smart limited edition Open 150 which possesses a unique interior and exterior colour combination as well as every toy under the sun. As the name suggests, just 150 of these cars will be produced. Stylish 18 inch alloy wheels fill the arches whilst Cooper S characteristics, such as bonnet scoop and more aggressive body elements, complete the look. Something totally unique to the new Mini Convertible is its hood which features and embroided design. Like having pinstripes on your posh umbrella, it adds eye catching detail and sophistication.
The grown-up theme continues inside where the perceived quality has been boosted considerably over the previous generation car. Textured finishes on the dashboard and ambient lighting combine to create a modern interior that feels worthy of a premium product. Bolstered seats crafted from fine brown leather are intricately stitched together and offer plenty good support. The front pair in this car are also heated. A widescreen infotainment display sits in the middle of a coloured halo that changes depended what setting the car is in. The system is easy to use and is operated via an intuitive touch sensitive scroller with shortcut buttons. Moving rearward, this Mini boasts that there is now more space than ever with the larger proportions of the hatch being taken advantage of. Increased leg room now means that the children have a bit more wiggle room. For adults the rear seats are only really for occasional use. The boot is also larger at 215 litres, it actually equals that of the hatchback, and has an ingenious function called easy load. In a nutshell, pulling two leavers widens the aperture allowing for easy loading of bulkier items. The folding tailgate can hold up to 80kg of weight making it an ideal bench or picnic seat for those light enough. With the roof up or down the Mini Convertible does have restricted rear visibility, but every car comes standard with a reversing camera negating the issue. Said roof can be quietly raised or stowed in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 18 MPH. With the wind deflector in place this Mini isn’t too blustery. Partially retracting the fabric will give you 40cm of sunshine.
The 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible is powered by the same 2.0 litre turbocharged engine as its hatchback counterpart. That means 190 BHP and 280Nm of torque is at your disposal. 0-62 MPH takes just 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 142 MPH makes this a bit of a rag-topped rebel. Utilise the Cooper S selectable drive modes and you will find different characters. Green mode aims to preserve fuel and get you closer to that claimed 50.4 MPG combined. Normal mode gives you lighter steering which is great when navigating a busy town or city, but the throttle is more responsive than when in Green Mode. Click it over into Sport and it is here the 2016 Mini Cooper S comes to life. The cabin lighting turns red, the steering gains a pleasing level of weight, gear changes from the 7 speed automatic gearbox become faster, the adaptive suspension becomes stiffer, and a valve opens in the exhaust to allow for a childishly exciting sound. As you pick up the pace it pops and bangs with the enthusiasm of a child that has eaten too many sweets. Without the roof the symphony of gunfire is more audible than in the hatch. Attack some twisting road and the usual Mini agility shines through. Loads of grip, strong brakes, and masterful body control promotes a confidence inspiring drive. Usually the loss of something as structurally integral as a roof has detrimental effect on the chassis, but that isn’t the case here. Whilst the hatchback might be just a touch sharper, the extra bracing has done its job making the new Mini Convertible just as enjoyable to thrash around in. Precise steering and even a hint of lift-off oversteer is a real treat for those who love feeling the car work beneath them.
The 2016 Mini Convertible Cooper S is a worthy machine to be crowned one of the best convertibles on sale. It remains all of the cheeky Mini mannerisms we love whilst pushing upmarket. You can have a Cooper S variant from £22,430 but we would suggest the adjustable dampers to make life a bit more comfortable back home in the UK. If you want an Open 150 you and your £29,990 needs to move quickly in the direction of a dealership.
Its compact shape and peppy performance made the new Mini Convertible the ideal companion on these challenging Portuguese roads. Another perfect paring.