I've always spoken about the joy one gets when driving a Mini, it's a car unlike any other that gives the driver a sense of happiness when they're behind the wheel. It's small, fast and nimble, the short turning circle means tighter steering so it's almost like you're driving a go-kart and with the new engines the latest models have, whether you're driving the Cooper, Cooper S or JCW derivative, you're guaranteed to have sufficient power at any time, with any type of gear box.
This past week I spent it driving around in the latest Mini Convertible, it essentially is everything I said above but you have the option to have a roof or not and that in Durban is a major plus. The east coast is proud to boast a winter that's not really winter, mornings and evenings have a slight chill but during the day, bright sunshine and warmth which is perfect conditions for a convertible and with that, the Mini came in very handy.
I, for one quite like the look of the new Mini, it's meant to be a small car but it's quite bold in it's design giving the impression that it's much bigger than it actually is. It's a fun car and everything that has to do with the design is just that, fun. The car I had was bright read and came fitted with the JCW kit which had all the sport goodness with a JCW front grille and bumper, bigger wheels fitted with JCW rims, the interior received the JCW treatment as well with sport seats, JCW steering and carbon finishes. I'm not quite sure what it is about Mini's, they are good looking cars but they're guaranteed to turn heads, where ever you go. with the folding roof, this just escalated attraction as people always asked to see what it looked like with the roof down. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige to their requests. The roof can also be opened slightly almost like a sunroof for the car if you don't feel like opening the entire thing.
As mentioned before, the engine line up in the Mini is excellent even the Cooper model which I had, comes fitted with the 1.5l Twin Power Turbo engine which gives you more than adequate power for this little car. Being a convertible, it is a bit heavier than your normal Mini and this is evident when cornering but on straight stretch this baby has no problem propelling itself to quite high speeds. There is slight turbo lag to it but nothing that will get you too bothered. Side note, the car sounds really good and that exhaust plays a tone that you don't get tired of hearing especially when you throw down the hammer but this affects your fuel consumption drastically!
While the car is a 4 seater, it would take a group of very small individuals to sit in total comfort. Being 1.8m in height, I am forced to move my seat almost entirely back which negates any leg room for something sitting behind me, unless they have no limbs, then it would be fine but with the front passenger, we did manage to seat a passenger behind them with a slight compromise to the front passengers seat position but they were not in discomfort from this. The seats are really comfy and of high quality. If there's no one in the back, you can always make use of the wind breaker screen that comes with the car and folds up neatly so you can chuck it into the boot if not in use.
What did surprise me about this model is that even thought it has a folding roof, it doesn't impact the storage space in the boot. It remains the same whether the roof is open or closed. The one problem I had with it is the door and access hatch, it could be a little bigger for slightly larger luggage to get in and out. Like I said the space is sufficient and you can get a lot of stuff in there but it's a mission to get it in! If that's not enough for you, you can always put stuff on the back seats and since they're bucket seats, it won't go rolling around the car.
It's a Mini but lets not forget who's its relative is, the big boys from Germany so you can be rest assured that there is a significant extras list for every car. The car I had came with the JCW kit as mentioned before, heated seats, satellite navigation, Mini Connect which is like BMW Connected Drive, Harman Kardon sound system, automatic windscreen wipers, colour changing mood lighting, Bluetooth Telephone connectivity and audio streaming and heads up display which is pretty cool as it's a small screen that pops up when you switch on the car. Also a cool addition to the covertible is that you can choose to have the Union Jack imprint on your roof as an added extra.
In many of my Mini reviews before, I mentioned that the Mini was aimed more for the youth but given it's price tag and how much it's grown I don't see why adults can't enjoy them. I certainly did during my time. It does seem a bit gimmicky but that aspect also adds to the charm of the vehicle. What I do love a lot about the car is the high quality finishing, with many of the cars we get now, they have a lot of cheap plastics and make the car look and feel cheap but with this product you're getting what you paid for. Good quality finishes and a solid built car. I found it very difficult to get more than 400km from one tank but that could just be my heavy foot along with the automatic gear box but hey, I can't deny I didn't have fun driving every one of those kilometers.
- 1.5 litre, 3 cylinder TwinPower Turbo
- 6 speed automatic gear box
- 220Nm torque
- Consumption: 5.1ltr/ 100km
- Top Speed: 208kph
- 0-100kph: 8.8 seconds
- Price: R397 000* (*excluding extras)