MINI Cooper S

Convertible

MINI Cooper S Convertible, front, action
MINI Cooper S Convertible, front
Mini Cooper S Convertible, front
Mini Cooper S Convertible, side
Mini Cooper S Convertible, side
Mini Cooper S Convertible, rear
MINI Cooper S Convertible, rear
MINI Cooper S Convertible, interior
Mini Cooper S Convertible, interior
MINI Cooper S Convertible, boot, easy load

I'M normally not a sunshine kind of a guy when driving a convertible.

Knowing my luck, the arrival of a drop-top is usually the cue for conditions associated with extreme weather warnings.

But for once the sun made an appearance and the button could be pushed - heralding an 18-second gap during which the roof of the MINI Cooper S Convertible is removed revealing what ELO memorably called Mr Blue Sky.

There is something almost decadent about driving in the open air and this beauty does nothing to dispel the notion with top-class exterior looks and a luxurious cabin featuring all mod cons.

It is also great fun to drive with a big but stylish dial allowing you to vary the normal set-up with sport and economy choices.

Cutting the roof off means there's extra weight from strengthening the chassis - but you wouldn't know it as the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine does a fair impersonation of Usain Bolt with a 0-62mph time of just over seven seconds and a top speed of 143mph.

There is a gorgeous soundtrack emitted from under the bonnet as you zip through a super-slick six-speed manual transmission that makes changing gear a pleasure.

Considering the power being put through the front wheels though, this MINI is not ruinously expensive to run as average fuel consumption is claimed at 47.1mpg

Other engines in the range include the entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol and the JCW which puts the 2.0-litre unit on steroids making it one of the fastest supermini convertibles on the market. There's also a Cooper D 1.5-litre oil burner.

The model I drove was quite simply a hoot allowing corners to be approached with the enthusiasm of a downhill skier thanks to a ton of grip and accurate, responsive steering.

The ride is firm without being uncomfortable while the fully adjustable seats support and cosset in equal measure.

The upshot is that you can enjoy country lanes, pootle about town or cruise down a motorway - this cabriolet is flexible enough to cope whatever your poison.

To the relief of my daughter whose hair do was once memorably wrecked by hurricane-force winds generated by another drop-top, MINI's version offers a removeable wind deflector for the rear seats which prevents that kind of catastrophe.

The three-door convertible can seat four, with the rear seats relatively easy to get to especially with the roof off.

But leg room is tight in the back and don't expect to get much in the way of luggage in the boot as it is quite small. The bootlid also flips down rather than up which, together with the narrow opening, makes accessing the space more difficult than it should be.

The look both inside and out is unmistakably MINI so it inspires love and affection wherever it goes. The ignition toggle switch, circular dashboard display, big dials and a driving mode selector linked to the gearstick assembly are just some of the highlights.

I loved the central display housing the infotainment and satellite navigation system - both to look at and to use. The outside ring is backlit to match the colour of the speedometer lighting and is uber-cool.

FAST FACTS

MINI Cooper S Convertible

Price:£22,570

Mechanical:192ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:143mph

0-62mph:7.2 seconds

Combined MPG:47.1

Insurance Group:29

C02 emissions:139g/km

Bik rating:24%

Warranty:3yrs/100,000 miles

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