Mini has built a solid reputation for producing fun vehicles, and that reputation is paying off. Despite a lagging auto market, drivers are still looking for fun, and Mini saw an astounding 29 percent sales increase in 2008 while many other automakers struggled. The 2009 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Convertible adds some top-down delight to the Mini line.
Fun is one thing, but fun cars are usually hampered by a lack of practicality. The Cooper convertible largely avoids that problem, as the latest generations of Minis have proven to be very reliable vehicles. One of the main issues when driving the Cooper convertible is visibility. When the top is up, you end up with large blind spots and the rear window is petite at best. Obviously, once you drop the top these problems disappear.
The Cooper convertible comes in the base model and the sporty S model. The base model is powered by a modest 118-horsepower engine which provides enough pep for average driver, but is mainly suited for relaxed cruising. The Cooper S is a different beast entirely. The S has the same size engine as the base model, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, but it is turbocharged to crank out 172 horsepower.
So what’s the downside to the Cooper convertible? The cornering. When you chop the roof off of a car, you lose a lot of stability and chassis rigidity. That means that when you go around a corner at higher speeds, the chassis will flex, making the car unstable and unresponsive. It’s fine at lower speeds, but if you want to zip through windy mountain roads, the Cooper S convertible will disappoint. If you want some relaxed cruising, the base model Cooper convertible is a very fun car.