The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Car Review: HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW : 2017 MINI Convertible Cooper FWD

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

An extremely likable ride, any MINI Cooper brings a taste of personality and punch to your driving life with the Convertible model upping the fun factor ten-fold. Unique highlights include jukebox-style gauges and chrome toggle-switch controls, two- or four-door versions, and peppy engines for a compact that stands out from the pack.

I drove a 2017 MINI Cooper Convertible with the turbocharged 189-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine featuring the six-speed manual Getrag transmission and MINI driving modes (Sport, Mid and Green). Available as base, S, or John Cooper Works trim, my loaded S trim featured the following standard equipment: power-folding convertible top; sport seats; interior LED mood lighting; 6.5-inch multifunction center display screen; Bluetooth; six-speaker audio system; and 16-inch alloy wheels. Total vehicle price as described came to $29,600 without packages or options.

The MINI family includes the MINI Hardtop, Clubman, Countryman, Paceman, Roadster, and Coupe. It’s also picked up some European competition with the Fiat line; other less expensive performance compacts include the Mazda3 and Hyundai Veloster.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: If you think the MINI has character on the outside, climb inside to discover unique dials and switches tailored to the driver with a supportive seat to match. The technology interface does take some getting used – MINI goes rogue here as well, and the commands don’t appear to share the logical path of other in-car displays I’ve used so expect a frustration curve. There is an upgraded 8.8-inch screen available. That second row is small and best for children (I did have my six-year old complaining about lack of space). The power-folding top comes down in under 20 seconds, and what great about it is that there is a half-open setting like a moonroof. Packages are plenty and much is needed to outfit this ride to your liking and needs: my test drive featured a $4,750 Premium Package, Sport Package, Technology Package and Wired Package that brought it all, from heated front seats and upgraded 17-inch wheels to navigation and MINI Connected telematics. The Chesterfield leather in Malt Brown was another $1,750 as was the $500 Melting Silver metallic paint job.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The two-door 2017 MINI Cooper has ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) making it a Top Safety Pick but note the four-door Convertible model has not been rated. It has also not been rated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The vehicle is equipped with an advanced airbag system; Corner Braking Control (CBC); electric powered assisted steering; Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD); Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPM); and anti-locking brakes.

Cost Issues: The base price for a MINI Cooper Convertible four-door is $26,700; the S trim at $30,400; and the John Cooper Works at $36,600. It does get expensive fast with all the options, as my Cooper Convertible topped out at $38,300. A Mazda3 hatchback is going to run you $27,730 with options at the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim.

Activity & Performance Ability: While there is no doubt the 2-liter turbocharged engine delivers respectable power, she’s a lot of work to drive and requires your concentration at all time – I liked the drive to that of a go-cart. If you live in a hilly area, I’d go with an automatic transmission because it was a beast to drive up into the Berkeley hills here in the Bay Area (yet once at the entrance of Tilden Park, we appreciated the Convertible top-down feature). The vehicle’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) continues to give it excellent grip so stay on flat, windy roads to draw out the car’s best personality traits. Interior noise is rather pronounced.

The Green Concern: The 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine gets 23-city/33-highway driving for a combined 27 miles-per-gallon. The Hyundai Veloster’s turbocharged 201-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine gets 25-city and 33-highway for an average fuel economy of 28 miles-per-gallon.

The 2017 MINI Cooper definitely is a fix for those who want a compact with more verve, and the Convertible version adds both a top-down and moonroof feature. See a list of ALL Convertibles available to buyers in North America, also check out the Mazda3 and Hyundai Veloster, however, to be sure you’re getting the right road fit – while the MINI is seductive, remember you’ll be spending most of your time behind the wheel.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

The Most In-Depth Consumer MINI Vehicle Shopper's Research - Anywhere!

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)