The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!
The MINI Convertible on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 MINI Convertible!

Ireland’s heatwave of summer 2021 broke just as I was handed the keys to the Zesty Yellow MINI Convertible. It was probably a good thing, saving me the effort of applying sunscreen. In fact, the overcast skies proved a good match to convertible driving, a slight breeze adding even more atmosphere to what turned out to be an unexpected motoring highlight of the year.

MINI make good cars. I had forgotten just how good. Getting into the MINI Convertible is like discovering a part of you that disappeared when life got serious. It took ten years off me at least. The sheer fun of changing gears, the sporty steering, trendy cabin, and cool, classic good looks that have endeared the 21st century MINI to millions for now over two decades.

Reviving the MINI was a very good decision. Creating a fun and playful car that adults can enjoy whether you’re 25 or 85.

Priced from €34,424 for the day-glo MINI Convertible Cooper Sport on test, it’s an expensive small car but actually seems like a bit of a bargain relative to the fun behind the wheel. Let me explain.

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

The MINI Convertible in Zesty Yellow

What’s new for the MINI Convertible in 2021?

The revamp for the MINI Convertible in 2021 includes fresh new design and technology updates.

The front-view is dominated by a larger radiator grille and its black, hexagonal surround, and the hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets to optimise aerodynamics and the central bumper strip is now in body colour, rather than black. The wheel arch has new contours, the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology and at the back of the car, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. At the rear, LED lights in the Union Jack design are now standard for this market too. Zesty Yellow is an exclusive new colour option for the MINI Convertible.

Sport models like the one on test now offer Intelligent Adaptive Suspension as standard, Piano Black Exterior, additional John Cooper Works badging and Dinamica Leather upholstery. Rear Park Distance Control is also included as standard.

As part of the Piano Black Exterior option, the door handles, side scuttles, fuel cap, MINI logo on the bonnet and luggage compartment lid and model lettering and tailpipes of the exhaust system are now finished in high-gloss black, in addition to the surrounds of the headlights, radiator grille and rear lights.

The interior of the MINI Convertible
The interior of the MINI Convertible

Driving it!

Powered by a 1.5-litre three cylinder engine putting out 136 hp, this MINI Convertible will move you with great intent, with 0 – 100 kmh in 8.8 seconds. Driving the MINI is an experience, the famed go-kart handling a real thing, not a myth. This car is fun and tactile to drive. You must wrestle it a bit, pull a gear here and there, fling it in and out of the corners, with all the enthusiasm of a terrier after its favourite toy down the back of the sofa.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

Is it practical? Well, it will happily fit you and your passenger up front but rear seating is not a strong point. If you regularly carry rear passengers, it’s going to be uncomfortable for them. The boot lid opens niftily, and will stow away a few things, but again awkward to access. But hell, it’s a convertible MINI! The fully electric roof also opens and closes in just 18 seconds. And that’s how long it takes for the real fun to begin!

The impossibly fun and glam MINI Convertible!
The fun and glam MINI Convertible Cooper Sport is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 136 hp

Inside the 2021 MINI Convertible

The interior is classic MINI – a vibe all its own – one of shiny gloss black, retro switches and that large circular binnacle still doing its job after all these years, just modernised enough for the digital era.

An 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface are now standard and the audio control unit and function buttons for hazard warning lights and driver assistance systems are integrated more harmoniously into the circular control unit. Chrome elements have been significantly reduced throughout the interior with the two outer air outlets framed by black panels. The internal air vents have been completely redesigned and are now embedded to be flush with the interior surface. There’s also a newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons. The digital display behind the steering is now standard.

Did you like it?

Yes, yes and yes! The MINI Convertible is flirty and superfluous on the surface. But then spend some real time with it. Find a deserted mountain road, let the roof down and enjoy some good, old fashioned motoring.

This car is an absolute hoot to drive even with the rather basic 136 hp 1.5-litre engine of our test car. It’s about the way you drive the car, the tactile nature of it, something that is gradually becoming rarer in modern cars.

Getting inside is like steeping into a nightclub – all shiny black surfaces and funky lighting. But it’s fun and mischievous, just like the car.

I’d choose the MINI again and again and again.

Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!
Behind the wheel of the new MINI Convertible!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI Convertible Cooper Sport
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 208 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
118 – 123 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year