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Convertible of the Year 2018: MINI Convertible

The MINI Convertible is the 2018 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended

The MINI Convertible has always been a popular drop-top, and the newly facelifted third-generation version is the most convincing edition yet. It offers open-air fun and thrills in a supermini-sized package, and with a broad line-up of trims and engines, there’s plenty of choice for drivers.

This is the second time we’ve named the MINI our Convertible of the Year; it previously picked up the gong in 2016. With even more customisation options for this updated model, it has enhanced what makes the cabriolet MINI so appealing, so it climbs to the top step of the podium once again.

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There’s more equipment, too. LED headlights are now standard, as are those Union flag motif tail-lamps that have become such a talking point. Fresh infotainment brings things right up to date in the plush, youthful cabin, while the new MINI Yours Customised service offers yet another level of personalisation. You can add 3D-printed panels on the dashboard and the front wings, and a bespoke look to the puddle lights.

Although the MINI Convertible carries a little extra weight compared with the hatch, the firm’s trademark sharp handling and spirited driving dynamics emerge unscathed despite some necessary chassis strengthening. With a pair of small rear seats there’s even a respectable level of practicality for a compact cabriolet. This includes the electric folding roof that takes 18 seconds to stow at speeds of up to 19mph.

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The Convertible isn’t available in basic One trim, with the more desirable Cooper spec kicking things off. A four-cylinder Cooper S model tops the cabrio range and is available with up to 228bhp if ordered with the John Cooper Works kit, but you’ll have nearly as much fun for a lot less in the three-cylinder Cooper. 

Our choice 

MINI Cooper Convertible (£19,795)

The regular entry-level Cooper drop-top is an absolute cracker. Its characterful 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine offers enough to entertain, while the chassis retains a respectable level of composure. The usual fun-to-drive feel we’ve come to love from MINIs sells it, while removing the roof makes it feel that little bit more special.

Commended

Audi A3 Cabriolet

Audi A3 Cabriolet - front

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is still a fine small premium convertible and deserves its commendation, even if the A3 is beginning to age a little in the firm’s range. It’s a small but spacious convertible with an exceptionally well-built cabin, refined engines and sharp but safe driving characteristics. If you need more space than the MINI, this is a top pick. 

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet - front

Step even further up in size and you’ll arrive at the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet, which is undeniably stylish. The plush, S-Class-inspired cabin features high-quality materials and advanced infotainment. There are sharper cabrios to drive, but few are as nice to be in or offer as much relaxation and elegance with the roof up or down.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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