2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible Manual

Minis are notoriously quirky, and the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible is no exception. Most of the little droptop’s eccentricities are shared with its Hardtop counterpart—like the one we recently parted ways with after spending 40,000 miles behind its three-spoke steering wheel. Peculiarities include a headlight switch mounted low by the driver’s left knee and angled toward the floor, as well as a cumbersome center armrest that interferes with both the shifting of the Mini’s satisfying six-speed manual transmission and access to the car’s available navigation controls.

Ergonomic oddities notwithstanding, there’s a lot to like about Mini’s latest ragtop, which is now built on the larger, third-generation platform that debuted under the 2014 Hardtop. Let’s address the elephant in the room first: The 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible isn’t cheap. With a starting price of $30,450, it costs $2760 more than a base Fiat 500C Abarth (and $5500 more than a base Mini Cooper S Hardtop). Unlike the Fiat, though, the Mini is a true convertible—there are no B- or C-pillars or fixed pieces of side glass. If a glorified sunroof suffices, give the Fiat a look. But for the wind-in-your-hair experience associated with convertible ownership, the chic little Italian feels inhibited.

In addition to standard features such as dual-zone automatic climate control, well-bolstered leatherette sport seats, and Mini’s cheeky Always Open Timer that clocks how long you’ve driven with the top down, our test car also included a $500 coat of Melting Silver metallic paint, a $1500 Sport package (adaptive dampers, 17-inch wheels, and LED foglights and headlights), and a $1700 Technology package that includes an 8.8-inch center-mounted display screen with navigation, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. Among the nickel-and-dime items was the $250 Storage package, consisting of a storage net in the passenger footwell and two in the cargo area as well as a 12-volt power socket back there. Many automakers would make all those things standard in upper trim levels such as the S, but that’s not the Mini way. All told, our test car rang in at $34,450, yet it lacked common features like heated seats, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a proximity-sensing keyless-entry system (although it did have keyless start). Read more...

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17 Jan 2017