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2022 MINI Cooper S Convertible - Review by Larry Nutson

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Iconic open air driving

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Despite the compact size of the MINI Cooper, color can make it quite noticeable. The Zesty Yellow 2022 MINI Cooper S Convertible I recently drove really turned some heads.

I wasn’t able to read lips as I drove about. However, I certainly did see conversations strike up among couples. I can just imagine what was said. Solo pedestrians turned and looked. I wondered what they were thinking.

We might agree: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “Art isn’t good or bad; art just is.”

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It was good to be driving a MINI convertible again. It was a bit of déjà vu for me. My wife had a 2016 Cooper S convertible—hers was silver--that she shared with me from time to time. The lease ended on that car back in mid-2019 and she did not replace it with another vehicle. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise since the pandemic of 2020 basically had most autos sitting parked.

The déjà vu feeling was made stronger because my wife’s car and this 2022 model I drove both had a six-speed manual transmission. Oh the joys of stop-and-go Chicago traffic! But the tradeoff is worth it in a car like the MINI that’s so much fun to drive with its go kart-like handling.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

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To complement the new-for-2022 Zesty Yellow the Cooper S convertible was equipped with a Union Jack soft top and Union Jack LED Taillights, which now are equipped on all convertibles.

MINI has freshened the Cooper for 2022 with a new, larger hexagon shaped grille with a body color bumper element across its center. LED headlights are standard, fog lights have been deleted and design work has been done to improve aerodynamics and engine cooling. The rear bumper has also been redesigned to provide a wider look and incorporate a similar hexagon graphic as the front.

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The Cooper convertible gets new wheel arch trim and rocker panel designs. There’s also a selection of new design 17-inch and 18-inch wheels. Along with Zesty Yellow, Island Blue and Rooftop Grey are new colors.

Inside there’s a new 8.8“- screen embedded in the center instrument design with configurable live widgets and two available color schemes--Lounge & Sport. SiriusXM is now also standard on all MINIs. A new steering wheel design now is available with a heating feature. Yay! Both my wife and wished for that on her 2016.

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A suite of advanced driver-assist safety (ADAS) features are now standard including Lane Departure Warning and Active Cruise Control.

The front-wheel drive Cooper S is powered by a 189-hp twin turbo 2.0-L 4-cylinder coupled to either a 6-speed manual or an 7-speed dual clutch automatic. There’s also the base Cooper with its 134-hp 1.5-L twin turbo 3-cylinder and the choice of the same two transmissions. The John Cooper Works convertible has 228-hp coming from the twin turbo 2.0-L and is only offered with an 8-speed Sport automatic.

More facts and figures on the 2022 MINI Cooper convertible model range can be found at Classic, Signature and Iconic trims are available.

MINI held the prices to a minimal increase for 2022. MINI Convertible base MSRP pricing starts at $27,900 and climbs to $44,900 depending on model and trim. Shipping charge is $850 additional.

The Zesty Yellow Cooper S I drove had a base price of $31,900 and was equipped with the Iconic Trim for $7,500 additional. Along with tech features like navigation, harmon/kardon premium audio and a head up display, you also get heated front seats and steering wheel, power-fold outside mirrors, leather steering wheel, piano black exterior trim and a bunch more. I noted the tires fitted on my MINI-tester were performance summer tires, which would require a change to winter tires with Chicago’s winter extreme cold and snow.

I’ve had a bunch of experience, obviously, with the MINI Cooper convertible. Seating is for four, but really best only for two. My wife and I vacationed for a week with her MINI packing the trunk and rear seat with all we needed. It worked just fine. Around town doing routine household errands calls for a bit of planning if you need to haul groceries, dry cleaning, adult beverages and the like. But a characteristic that is really great about the MINI is it is so easy to maneuver and park. You can zip in and zip out of parking spaces with ease.

The MINI handles like it’s on rails. The 189-hp gets you to 60 mph in 6.8 secs. and tops out at 143 mph! Simply head out on a country road on a summer’s day, drop the top and enjoy.

Happy motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy