Test Drives

2019 Mini Cooper S Cabriolet Review: Cooped Up, Hair Down



Mini’s hottest version of its Cabriolet, the Cooper S, delivers warm-blooded fun at a not-insignificant premium

SINGAPORE – Nothing says ‘joie de vivre’ like a drop-top, and convertibles are far from dead. In the recent past we’ve run the gamut from cheap and cheerful Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, to the Audi A3 Cabriolet, to a topless version of the Bentley Continental GT, as well as the BMW 8 Series and resurgent BMW Z4.

Those cars might say it, but the Mini Cabriolet shouts it, and when all else fails, the Mini Cooper S Cabriolet positively types it in all caps.

The Mini three-door and five-door hatchbacks, along with the Cabriolet, received a minor facelift last year – we’ve reviewed the most popular one for Singapore, the Mini One 5dr, as well as the Cooper Cabriolet previously on CarBuyer.com.sg.

The changes include a subtly-revised badge, new LED lights/daytime running lights, Union Jack taillamps, a new interior ambient lighting panel (in the form of a Union Jack too) replaces the push-to-open cubby hole.

One major boost to the ownership experience is in technology. There’s a big update to the interior with  the new 6.5-inch touchscreen-enabled infotainment system, which now packs Mini Connected, so Mini owners now get all the same essential benefits of BMW Connected (see related story below).

 



READ MORE: Mini Connected – can the new suite of Internet and connectivity related services really improve your life, in-car and out?

 


 

The Cooper S has the same 192hp from a 2.0-litre engine as before. As far as major mechanical changes go, the cars for Singapore all switched from a six-speed auto to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

In the case of the Cooper S Cabriolet, this doesn’t translate to any major performance or efficiency differences from before, but that is to say, it remains a ball to drive.

The clever folding roof stows away in 18-seconds, and can be deployed at speeds of up to 30km/h, and there is also a interesting ‘targa’ mode that opens the fabric top panoramic sunroof style.

 

The cabrio isn’t just a one trick pony, it’s actually quite well-rounded and liveable despite the image of it being intensely focused on fun. The rear seats are tiny, as is the boot (160- to 215-litres, depending on the roof’s state, seats fold down to expand space a little), but anyone considering a Mini only opts for Ikea home delivery.

A new drive mode selector switch (Green, Mini, Sport) makes toggling the mode to suit your mood easier, and the Cabriolet isn’t so badly-mannered that it jiggles all your patience away or makes you shout at your co-pilot to be heard.

Shorts, polo tee, and the urge to squeeze fun out of a car – Staff writer Jon has the Mini attitude down pat

In Sport mode, and with the DSC in Sport, the Mini is a ball to drive, the tiny wheelbase make it shimmy and squirm under hard braking while the accurate steering and small dimensions make for confidence. You don’t even need to go that fast to have fun, despite the Cooper S tag.

But our pick of the Mini litter, whatever the model, is still the three-cylinder Cooper, which packs just as much fun and with a more stirring soundtrack to match, while also costing significantly less – the Cooper S at S$183,888 with COE isn’t 20 percent better than the Cooper at S$151,888 with COE.

It’s worth noting, for instance, the the Cooper S lacks adaptive suspension. While it’s fixed-rate suspension setup is very good, at S$190k, adaptive suspension would surely expand the car’s repertoire.

Still, the Mini Cooper S Convertible is a great reminder of what cars can be, despite all the doom and gloom surrounding us. For older, irascible folk, climbing behind the wheel of a 192hp convertible Mini might be the last thing on their minds, but the sheer cheerfulness of the Cooper S Cabriolet could win even them over.

Mini Cooper S Cabriolet  

Engine 1,998cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 192bhp at 5000-6000rpm
Torque 280Nm at 1250-4600rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch  
0-100km/h 230km/h
Top Speed 7.1 seconds
Fuel Efficiency 5.7L/100km
VES Band / CO2 C1 / 131g/km
Agent Eurokars Mini Habitat
Price S$183,888 with COE
Availability Now

 

about the author

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Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.