Mini Cooper S Convertible car review: Exclusivity on four-wheels

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In adversity lies opportunity. The now-iconic small car, the Mini, was born out of an energy crisis. In 1956, with the Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal, fuel prices shot up. When the crisis forced the British government to introduce petrol rationing, the British Motor Corporation (BMC), sensing an upcoming market, set out to manufacture a car that was affordable to run, had room for four adults and was within economic reach of just about everyone.

(Interestingly, during the design stage, the Mini was called the New Market.) The compact design was created by Sir Alec Issigonis. By 1959, the car landed on British roads. It was so successful that it became the small car icon of the 1960s, and subsequently the European Car of the Century. Over the years, its production changed hands—from BMC to British Leyland and then to Rover Group.

In 1994, BMW took control of Rover Group, which included the Mini. In October 1999, BMW unveiled the modern Mini at the Paris Auto Show. Among other things, BMW altered the name to MINI (in all caps), and while the basic design was more or less retained, the MINI was no longer as affordable as it was initially designed to be.

In 2012, BMW launched it in India. In November 2014, a new body variant was introduced with the MINI five-door. Last week, the all-new MINI Convertible arrived in India.

Exterior

The MINI Convertible is fitted with an electrically-powered soft-top roof. It gets a wind deflector that can be locked into position behind the front seats and comes in especially handy to avoid unwanted air turbulence during open-top driving. The company says that for a spontaneous reaction to sudden weather changes, the soft top can be opened and closed in just 18 seconds.

Interior

There is a multifunction sport leather steering wheel and front sports seats. Even when the roof is closed, there is ample headroom. It also gets 25% more luggage space compared to its predecessor; the capacity has now been increased to 215 litres.

Engine

The MINI Convertible is powered by a two-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with TwinPower Turbo Technology. The peak output is 192bhp and the maximum torque is 280Nm. The car sprints from 0-100kph in 7.1 seconds and its top speed is 233kph. It gets a new six-speed automatic transmission.

Drive

The design of the MINI is such that the wheels are at the far corners of the car. This arrangement gives it a wide, go-kart stance and nimble handling. To understand how beautifully the MINI handles, we suggest driving the car in the hills or on twisty roads. Even at high two-figure speeds on turns, the car will remain stable, its suspension such that it won’t toss you from one corner of the seat to another. Pure exhilaration!

However, the MINI doesn’t like bad roads. As you hit a rough patch, it tends to ‘crash’ into the potholes. Open top or not, the MINI Convertible is a very noisy car on bad roads.

Verdict

For Rs 34.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi and Maharashtra), what you get is a terrific roller-coaster on wheels. What you don’t get, however, is supreme comfort and space associated with similarly priced entry-luxury sedans. If you are looking at exclusivity on four-wheels, the MINI Convertible guarantees it for a lifetime.

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