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Convertible of the Year 2020: MINI Cooper Convertible

The MINI Cooper Convertible is the 2020 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A5 Cabriolet and Mazda MX-5 commended

MINIs are all about fun, and removing the roof for the MINI Convertible certainly adds to that, offering open-top thrills at affordable prices and with running costs that should be manageable, too.

It’s yet another win for the MINI in this category, showing the car’s longevity and that, despite new rivals emerging – many of which are more expensive and more premium than the MINI – the British brand’s cabriolet has plenty of personality.

The range now consists of five trim levels, including the smart Sidewalk model in our pictures. Beneath the sporty John Cooper Works range topper are Classic, Sport and Exclusive variants that subtly tailor the look and equipment on offer. But whichever you choose, all versions offer the same sharp handling MINIs are known for. Choose the Cooper with its 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine and involving six-speed manual gearbox, and you don’t have to spend a lot to bag a brilliant Convertible.

However, if you’d prefer a little more performance, the JCW adds some extra spice with its 228bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine. The Cooper S uses a detuned version of this unit, making 189bhp, but while these cars are fun, they’re not entirely necessary.

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That’s because part of what makes the MINI experience is the personalisation potential. All cars in the range offer the chance to tailor the spec to your tastes, with different wheels, mirror caps, graphics packs, interior colours and trim inserts, while the Convertible has different roof options, too.

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We love drop-tops in Britain, but moving into autumn and winter, when the weather can be unpredictable, is where the MINI’s electrically folding roof will come in handy. It takes 18 seconds to raise or lower and it can be operated at speeds of up to 19mph.

Infotainment and connectivity are good, and there are two small rear seats, although they are better served as extra luggage space, because the boot isn’t the biggest.

However, the sense of style the MINI Convertible offers is backed up by real substance at a price that’s hard to ignore, so for the third year in a row, the
MINI is our convertible champion.

Our choice

MINI Cooper Convertible Classic (£20,630)

We suggest keeping it simple and going for Classic trim; it’s the most affordable MINI Convertible you can buy, but the key to the car’s appeal are its driving dynamics and style – you can add extra kit if you want to. You’ll need no more than the 1.5-litre Cooper engine, either, because it’s quick, characterful and efficient.

Commended

Audi A5 Cabriolet

Updates to the Audi A5 range this year apply to the Cabriolet too. So with new infotainment, a great range of petrol and diesel engines, superb build quality and tweaked design for even more style, this fresher-faced A5 Cabriolet is worth a look if you’re after a premium model.

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Mazda MX-5

Combining our Convertible and Roadster classes for 2020 has seen the Mazda fall into a runner-up spot, but it’s still the best sporty drop-top you can buy. The engines rev crisply and deliver strong performance, while the chassis balance is sublime.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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