Flash Drive: 2009 MINI Cooper S Convertible
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Staff of MSN Autos
One of the reasons for the popularity of the MINI Cooper is that there are so many colors, options and accessories that nearly every car feels personalized. Our MINI Cooper S Convertible test car was no exception. It was painted Interchange Yellow with a black racing stripes, had a black top and was equipped with 17-inch Black Star Bullet wheels. Inside, the black leather seats included cloth inserts with yellow stripes to tie it all together. The heart of the Cooper S is the 172-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder engine combined with a 6-speed Getrag manual transmission that makes the Cooper S beg to be driven. Small, nimble and light, the MINI Cooper S is one of the best cars ever from BMW. It will put a smile on your face every time you drive it, and it's totally frugal at the pump. Whether you're a driving enthusiast or just enthusiastic about life, the MINI Cooper S fun factor can't be beat. –Mike Meredith
This MINI's small size and solid proportions just exude fun. It also doesn't hurt when it's painted yellow with black stripes and black wheels. Though the S doesn't have massive power, the 172 horses are plenty to provide satisfying acceleration. The unique top has a panel that can slide open like a sunroof for a bit of sun and wind, or the top can be completely retracted for full sun and, unfortunately, full wind. Yes, the Cooper is quite noisy with the top down at highway speeds —talking on my hands-free phone was impossible. The lowered top sits just behind the rear-seat passengers, so it doesn't take up any of the surprisingly useful cargo space. Unfortunately, the folded top sticks up too high — I found the rear view completely blocked when the top was down. But as a fun, fuel-efficient 4-seat convertible for less than $30K, I'd still be happy to have MINI Convertible in my garage. –Perry Stern
This is the first variant of the MINI that has disappointed me. With a solid roof on it, the MINI is almost universally wonderful, offering performance and efficiency in almost every respect. But in convertible form, the MINI loses much of its appeal for me. The open top is just too large, with scuttle shake (flexing of the body due to the lost rigidity of a solid roof) that discourages fast driving and a loud interior due to all that cloth inevitably letting in more of the outside noise. Although the basic MINI ingredients are all still there, the convertible roof waters down the whole experience until I find it simply uninspiring. Overall, the Cooper Cabriolet left me cold, and longing for any other MINI instead. –Paul Hagger
The Cooper S convertible is a fun summer ride. The great gas efficiency is a plus when making long summer road trips. I averaged 28 mpg in my travels. The Cooper S is a small car, so you can expect that the maneuverability in the city is very good. You never have to worry about parking as the Cooper S can fit into most slots. However, traveling longer distances with the Cooper S can be a challenge as the trunk is relatively small and the rear seats accommodate only children comfortably. But with the convertible top open and playing some nice tunes on the powerful stereo, only the open road and the joy of driving will be important to you. For around $30K, the Mini Cooper S convertible is a decent deal for a smart-looking car. –Joe Chulick