In a country like ours, where climate changes are extreme, a convertible makes little sense. They are driven with the top up most days, negating the appeal of a drop top, and really are frivolous toys for the rich. That said, no car can quite match the drama, appeal and pure exhilaration that a convertible car delivers, more so if it’s a Mini convertible. This latest generation of the car is more fun than the last one. It’s bigger on the inside, with larger footwells. The boot is bigger too which somewhat aids practicality.
Cute. That’s the one word that will come to mind when you see the circular theme on the car. Since the roof has been removed, the convertible gets plenty of additional bracing to compensate for enhanced rigidity. The headlamps and tail lamps are all LEDs now and the chrome on the face of the car is just about perfect for Indian tastes.
The highlight of the design are the Union Jack style tail lamps, which add a dash of glamour and flamboyance to the car. The stylish strips on the hood add plenty of sportiness as well to the package. Overall, it remains a classic design that can be instantly recognised as a Mini and won’t be mistaken for anything else on the road.
The circular theme continues on the inside. You get a hooded central infotainment display with a light strip on its border which changes colours. The aircraft toggle style start/stop engine button also looks cool and adds a dash of panache. The circular gauges move with the steering when you adjust it for rake. But ergonomics are a mixed bag. The door pockets for instance can’t hold more than a newspaper folded and the glovebox is tiny too. The boot is 215 litres with the top up and about 160 litres with it down. The seats though, offer good comfort and support all across is excellent too. You get two seats in the back as well but these are ornamental in nature. No one in their right mind is going to get into the rear bench, it’s too tight even for small kids.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The Mini comes with a 2-litre petrol engine with 190bhp. Power is transferred via a six-speed automatic which has shift paddles behind the steering wheel. This four-cylinder turbo unit is a gem. Power delivery is nippy and there is plenty of performance on offer. There isn’t any turbo lag so to speak of and the engine feels urgent and hugely capable. The gearbox is a quick shifting unit as well, and does its job with refinement. The shifts in automatic mode are smooth and efficient.
Ride and handling
The Mini comes with a stiff suspension set up. Do not expect to absorb bumps on anything less than smooth. This setup though means that agility is second only to Usain Bolt. Push it into a corner and the car will carve it out nicely for you. The steering feels direct and hugely responsive as well. In fact it feels like you are driving around in a go kart.
The Mini convertible makes absolutely no practical sense in India. But with its cool looks, classy appeal and upmarket image, it’s a great toy to have in your garage. Yes, it is expensive but if you can afford it no other small car can put a smile on your face the way it will.
Photography By: Mohd Nasir