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MINI Cooper S Convertible: Feisty little bugger

The new Mini Cooper S Convertible is a little Brit car with a big personality

The MINI has a firm place in the pantheon of car history. A people’s car that transformed into a cult figure in motor sport, not to mention one of the most enduring objects of Britishness anywhere in the world. This, despite the fact that for the last 15-odd years this much-loved Brit has been under the rule of German masters; although, despite conventional wisdom about the straight-laced seriousness of Germans, this takeover hasn’t tarnished the MINI’s capricious leanings. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.

The MINI Convertible, with its shiny deep-blue paint job, is eye-catching from all angles. The chrome-lined headlamps and the bonnet-scoop give the car a little edginess, and the blacked-out chrome-lined grille with a bright red ‘S’ coupled with those massive air dams — also lined with chrome — result in a visage that cannot be missed. The overall effect is that of a little puppy, all big eyes and droopy mouth begging for a treat — in a word, adorable.

The massive infotainment panel is clean and intuitive
The massive infotainment panel is clean and intuitive

Put the electronically operated top up, and you’ll notice it sports a massive Union Jack on the hood (in case you had any doubts about its Britishness). It can open partially to mimic a sunroof or close it all the way (a task that requires just 18 seconds and can be carried out on the move as long as you aren’t moving at above 30 km/h).

The front row is plush and comfortable
The front row is plush and comfortable

The interior is all plush leather and, surprisingly, the racing-style seats are pretty comfortable. You can adjust thigh support, and can fit in four creatures of vaguely humanoid proportions. There’s a decent amount of boot-space, too, with 215 litres available with the top up, 160 with the top down, and the boot-lid opening to provide a convenient tail-gate. This would also be a good time to mention that when it comes to the MINI, customisation is a big part of the experience. The car is offered in 13 different paint schemes (11 metallic, two non-metallic), and at least 10 different upholstery options, so you can go nuts. Even the fabric top comes in two options.

The six-speed autobox comes with paddle shifts. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
The six-speed autobox comes with paddle shifts. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

The engine is the same as that in the hardtop Cooper S. It is powered by 2.0-litre in-line four TwinPower Turbo petrol which produces 192 PS from 5,000-6,000 RPM and 280 Nm from 1,250-4,600 RPM. The engine is mated to a six-speed Steptronic auto box with paddle shifts. You can also shift between ‘Green’, ‘Mid’, and ‘Sport’ modes based on how tame you want this little beast to be.

The engine fires up with a satisfying rumble, and cabin noise levels are actually quite decent when you have the top up. Put your foot down and that rumble quickly builds into a pleasant crescendo and charges forward like a bulldog hot on the scent of the local postman. It’s quick; 7.51 seconds to get to 100 km/h from standstill. That’s legit sports car territory; you get a real feel for how quick you’re going because the MINI is a drop-top. Although, because of the clever German engineering that went into its making, the wind blast commonly associated with convertibles won’t leave you with a bad hair day as long as you keep the deflectors and windows up. We also managed to take the MINI all the way to a top speed of 224.46 km/h, so it isn’t just a quick sprinter either.

Despite those impressive performance numbers, the MINI’s greatest attribute is its handling. The steering feedback, too, is pretty communicative. The brakes too live up to the billing, with the brake-assist, ABS and cornering brake control means the MINI can stop pretty rapidly too. In our 80-0 km/h braking test, for example, the MINI took 2.33 seconds.

Apart from strengthening the MINI’s rigidity from the waist down, the car comes with dual-front airbags, crash sensors and parking sensors. There’s a MINI App which has all sorts of clever features like sending you notification in case of impending rain.

With handling that seems to be wired straight to your thoughts, and at R34.90 lakh (ex-showroom), it also has the distinction of being the cheapest convertible available in India today.

Need to know

MINI Cooper S Convertible
Engine: 1998cc in-line four, turbo-petrol
Max: 192 PS from
Power: 5000-6000 RPM
Max: 280 Nm from
Torque: 1250-4600 Nm
Transmission: Six speed, Automatic
Kerb Weight: NA
Price: Rs 34.90 lakh (ex-showroom)

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Corrigendum
In the July 3 edition, the photographs for the new Porsche 911 range and Yamaha’s Cygnus Alpha disc-brake variant were inadvertantly interchanged in the Out Now section of the Wheels page. The error is regretted.

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