Mini Cooper S Convertible - Drop Top Madness!
They say one should never meet their hero, I always loved the Mini since the time they were developed back in the late 50s it was just a sheer engineering masterpiece for the packaging of the entire drivetrain in the front of the car transversely resulting in small size car but with superb interior cabin space, and that laid a foundation for most of the cars we see on the roads today especially the hatchback segment, what Mini did and that also very very cleverly was giving all the practicality of size form and simplicity and ease of use of a small car but a feeling of a big car when it came to space and comfort on the inside.
Transversely mounted arrangement and the overall wheelbase to wheel track ratio which was a square setup resulted in brilliant handling from the little car which would put much powerful and bigger cars to shame on Paris Dakar Rally back in the days.
So how does the old mini matter when speaking about the current 2020-21 gen? Well ever since cars started to grow in size and weight with every new generation it also started to ruin their fun factor especially the bit of going around the bends and feeling the emotions of the car, But thank god! the 2020-21 mini makes you feel like an 18yr old kid who just got his/her driver’s license and is ready to unleash the hooligan within, it's simply so agile and eager for your inputs and always ready to go at any given moment. It’s a proper, super fun and powerful Go Kart in other words.
Now let's add a convertible roof to the mix, well when I first got my hands on the convertible Mini Cooper I seriously had two thoughts, if it would be fun or not, considering the compromise which has happened in its body structure due to missing C and B pillars and entire roof structure plus added weight of the powered folding roof. Well to be put honestly compromise is very little but that completely gets offset by the top-down fun one can have especially when the engine chassis are put in S mode resulting in more sensitive steering input and feedback more snappy gearshifts from the 7-speed Dual Clutch Steptronic transmission which is just brilliant and the fun pops, bangs and crackle coming from the exhaust at high RPMs while we downshifting just ups the excitement game.
The chassis balance is just perfect especially when it comes to taking the corners hard, it's just so predictable and super fun but we feel in the hardtop version it may be slightly better but the convertible is not any less in giving you that confidence, it’s just perfect for even an above-average driver.
We were concerned about the ride quality as the older generations had it pretty firm and uncomfortable ride but this generation is different and surprisingly good! The suspension articulation is great and so is the combination of the damper to spring rate with the selection of tyre size. Which all just works cohesively with the lovely electronically assisted steering combined with a short ratio steering rack making it perfect to dodge around those nasty potholes or even to go through them without a single bit of unsettling or letting go of the supremely comfortable but slightly stiff feeling. The suspension setup is pretty much perfect.
By Far one of the best handling and reassuring front-wheel-drive cars driven till now by me, and I have had a lot of them in my garage!
Coming to the drivetrain, 2020-21 Mini is powered by a 2.0L Twin-Scroll Turbo 4-cylinder engine paired with a ZF 7 Speed Dual-clutch transmission producing 192 bhp of max power and 280 Nm of max torque, this combo just works perfectly in harmony with each other in all other BMW cars and so much better in this lighter Mini Cooper S.
BMW's Twin Power Turbo technology, which is a single turbo but with twin-scroll gives superb off the line response without any loss of power in the mid or top end, results in very smooth and linear yet rapid power delivery with a motor which happy to bounce off the rev limiter all the while with a solid transmission attached to it. One also gets a very good fuel efficiency, which we were honestly surprised for a 2-litre turbo motor getting almost 12-13kmpl with normal driving within the city. A heavy foot with a lot of rev bouncing resulted in it falling to a minimum of 7kmpl which is still better than many other counterparts which compete with this car.
The engine again is a perfect package of power refinement and fuel efficiency, but what we would have liked was less lag between throttle application and engine responding which at times gets a bit annoying especially in normal mode its get way lot better in S mode though.
Coming to the transmission it’s a ZF made 7-speed DCT which has gear ratios that always keeps the engine happy and shifts are super quick and the box unlike the competition can take power without giving up, clunking or giving issues, plus it has an incredibly smooth crawl engagement which results in strop start traffic movement a breeze. This is a very smooth yet quick gearbox.
The DCT, when coupled with the driving modes like Normal or Eco mode lets the car coast when letting go of the accelerator which results in decoupling of the engine thus no engine braking and one can get a much smoother drive and much better fuel efficiency and at the same time in S mode engine braking is at its highest with RPMs always kept on the boil by the selection of correct gears.
The Looks are classic Mini but with a convertible roof added which folds up and down while being steady or in motion up to speeds of 30kmph in all of the respectable 18secs. The Best bit about the roof is it’s a 2 stage roof, 1st stage lets you slide it partially open making it a perfect sunroof and 2nd stage opens it completely, roof operation is smooth and easy to use.
The sound and heat insulation via the roof is very respectful considering driving the car in noisy dusty and hot Mumbai city, it never got noisy or hot inside thanks to excellent airconditioner and good quality roof materials.
Coming to the outside, it has a lot of touches with Union Jack monikers all across, be it the tail light or headlights, or the Union Jack logo which illuminates as part of ambient lighting on the dashboard.
Exterior gets bright LED headlights and tail lamps making driving in the night a breeze, complemented by classic Mini styling and quirky bonnet opening which has cut-outs in the bonnet for the headlights and bonnet and front fenders are one piece.
Coming to the Interior, it is not at all a Mini on the inside the legroom for 2 people in front is excellent me being a 6'2” was very comfy on the driver's seat with all its side and under-thigh and back support with seats being not too stiff nor too soft just the right amount of all. The only issue was the seat is fully manual with no electric motors while the manual is good in JCW format but on normal S trim electric is needed especially considering its price range.
Trunk space although decent enough to fit 2 medium-size suitcases, but not something which one can carry the entire house in, but again that not the point of the car anyways. If one does have a lot of stuff to carry both rear seats fold flat resulting in the boot which extends in the cabin area resulting in greater space within.
Materials used on the inside are premium and soft to touch the centre console with jukebox design and ambient lighting which change as per the functions selected or use, make it fun, lively and entertaining while being classy. At some places, materials do feel a little rough and not so premium to touch or look which is the only small and liveable downside otherwise of the overall brilliant interior.
In conclusion, it is a car which will make you smile and make you feel special and you can have tons of fun while being practical as well, to be used and enjoyed daily and in any weather. Not many options in its price range which gives soo much fun and practicality of a hatchback and safety of a big modern car considering the amount standard safety tech of airbags esp etc.
It’s a that gives you all the fun and excitement and a feeling of being a kid that just makes you want to drive it more and more.
Quite Honestly I miss driving it when I am not around it, which is a thing not many cars do to me.
Words : Jatin Patel (instagram.com/wagenwerkz) Photos : Siddhant R (instagram.com/siddhant.rajadhyaksha)