First Drive Review: 2009 Mini Cooper Convertible
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Steve Siler of Car and Driver
What can we say about Mini's convertibles that we haven't said before? They're fun? Said that. Terrific handling? Countless times. And now we're awfully close to saying that the base Cooper convertible is just as entertaining as the turbocharged Cooper S convertible.
With a 118-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder spinning the front wheels, the Cooper is nowhere near as quick as the S with its blown, direct-injected, 172-hp version of the same engine. However, the Cooper convertible nonetheless comes darn close to the S in sheer entertainment value, and that's because with Minis, acceleration is only a small part of the fun.
The Guy Who Went to Austria Is a Bit Miffed
Why? When the roads are tight and squiggly rather then long and straight, you can exact every bit of the base Cooper's happy horsepower without ever having to worry about the frightful onset of torque steer when exiting corners. Just be sure to keep the revs up and the engine in its power band. The deft suspension and the always-there brakes have no trouble managing the Mini's minuscule mass. Meanwhile, the world rushes by in a blur of sunshine-y goodness that, for some reason, inspires passengers to stick a camera out the top to snap corny pictures of themselves. At the same time, the Mini is returning fuel economy well above 30 mpg.
Smooth Roads, Take Me Home
We didn't spend much time with the top in place, what with its massive blind spots replacing the hatchback's band of glassy windows. There's something about dropping the Cooper's top — which raises or lowers in 15 seconds, according to Mini — that makes losing the S's extra grunt more palatable than in the Mini hatchback or Clubman. Perhaps this is why Mini so ardently encourages driving with the top lowered by installing an "Openometer" gauge next to the tach that tracks the amount of time the top is down while the engine is running on any given day. Combining time spent in both the Cooper and Cooper S convertibles, we registered about four-and-a-half hours of top-down driving.
Would You Call It Minibook?