It’s ugly, but it sure was fun! That is the best way to describe my outing this week with the 2010 MINI Cooper S Convertible. I admit that the color was a bit shocking at first. BMW calls it Interchange Yellow, I call it pea green. It has the black cloth convertible top with black racing stripes. Let’s just say you can’t miss it.
MINIs are always fun to drive however, there is just nothing like it. The car is much like driving a go-cart in that it feels like you are going a lot faster than you really are. The 1.6 liter, 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder only puts out 172 horses, but feels much quicker. My test car came with a really smooth shifting 6-speed manual transmission.
MINI comes with a nice list of standard safety features including anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system, Dynamic Stability Control, four airbags, active roll bar, and Corner Brake Control.
Option-wise, my test car had upgraded wheels, Bluetooth and iPod adapter, and a center armrest. The power convertible top works quickly and efficiently. One unique feature of this top is that the front of it will slide open and serve as a sunroof, something I have only experienced on the VW Eos retractable hardtop. The MINI ragtop is surprisingly quiet, with no wind noise detectable at all.
Two characteristics of the MINI I have always loved are the gauges and the handling. The gauge cluster is “in your face” literally and figuratively. They are really easy to read yet not obnoxious. There is no other car this gauge cluster could possible work on, but it just does with MINI. And handling is superb as are all MINIs. It is hard to imagine a car this size that could corner better, it is a blast to drive.
Best of all, I drove this car hard, as I tend to do with MINIs, just because it is fun, and I could not get this car to get less than 31 miles per gallon. That includes mixed driving, with a lot of stop and go on the freeway.
MINI Coopers are not for everyone, and if I had to drive it in heavy traffic five days per week, it probably would not work for me. But if you want superior handling, great gas mileage, and a car that really holds its value, this is one to look at!
What I liked most: Ride, handling, and fuel economy.
What I would change if I could: I would have made it ANY OTHER color.
MSRP as tested: $29,450.
Fuel Economy: Underrated at 26 city/34 highway.
MINI convertible in a few words: Arguably the most-fun small car anywhere.