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Convertible of the Year 2019: MINI Convertible

The MINI Convertible is the 2019 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended

The MINI Convertible brings everything that’s great about the MINI hatchback and packages it all into a stylish drop-top that puts fun right at the forefront of the driving experience. Plus this is one of the most affordable convertibles that you can buy, especially given its ability.

Although the Convertible is heavier than the hatch on which it’s based, this hasn’t affected its sharp handling. All MINIs have top driving dynamics, and this soft-top version is no exception, thanks to its lively chassis set-up and direct steering.

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The ride comfort isn’t hurt too badly in the transition from Hatchback to Convertible, either. Although the soft-top has taut body control, it still provides a decent level of comfort as well.

The car also has a couple of small rear seats that might be useful for short trips, and the electric folding roof takes 18 seconds to lower at speeds of up to 19mph. That means you can drop the roof on the move when the sun comes out, while the climate-control system can even remember your settings with the roof up and down, so that you don’t need to fiddle with the temperature control. The infotainment can also tell you if there’s rain on its way, allowing you to get the roof up in time.

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A facelift in 2018 gave customers a wider range of personalisation options, including 3D-printed panels for the dashboard and the front wings, as well as a bespoke option for the puddle lights to put your chosen message in the limelight. It’s these small but oh-so-important customisation touches that really make the MINI experience.

The excellent Cooper and Cooper S engines – 1.5 and 2.0-litre units respectively – are both superb choices. With 134bhp, the former offers plenty of punch and a fun soundtrack without any great sacrifice in fuel economy (MINI claims up to 45.6mpg and 121g/km CO2 emissions in manual form), while the latter is louder and more powerful, and that encourages you to indulge just that bit more in the car’s delightful handling.

Our choice

MINI Convertible Cooper Classic (£20,085)

The entry-level Cooper Classic is the best choice of trim, because most of the desirable equipment is only available as extra anyway. Its lively 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is great fun, but still offers plenty of exploitable performance, so it nicely balances handling, agility and enjoyment. It doesn’t feel too serious and is more usable than the firmer Cooper S, yet offers the same great level of technology.

Commended

Audi A3 Cabriolet

Audi A3 Cabriolet - front

If the MINI Convertible is a bit too small for you, there’s always the Audi A3 Cabriolet. It has much more rear-seat space than our winner, so although it’s not as much fun to drive, the A3 is still worth considering. Its cabin is also well designed and built, while there’s a range of efficient engines, too.

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet - front

If you’re looking even more upmarket than our other two options, the Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is a fine choice. Its luxurious cabin features high-quality materials and lots of hi-tech equipment, while a comfortable and refined driving experience completes the overall package. It offers a great balance of elegance and affordability, too, with refined and frugal diesel engines available.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2019

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2019 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

Auto Express Issue 1,583
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