We try out entry-level soft-top to see if it's got what takes to be a summer smash
This latest MINI Convertible doesn’t take many risks, but the new engine and intelligent price will help it appeal to buyers wanting a stylish and fun way to enjoy the summer sunshine. The cost rises quickly if you start to add options, though, and when you consider that the higher-spec Cooper delivers an extra 24bhp, and features alloys and other goodies for £1,430 extra, the One doesn’t look such good value. While it’s an attractive and affordable way into MINI Convertible ownership, this car falls slightly short of being a must-have fashion accessory.
Will this new One Convertible be a summer sales smash for MINI? As models like the Countryman explore uncharted territory, the entry-level soft-top sticks to the brand’s winning retro formula – and with a tempting price of just under £15,000, it’s expected to be the best-selling open-air variant.
On paper, the model looks promising – the engine is a new 1.6-litre now standard across the range. In the One, power is up slightly to 98bhp, and torque rises to 153Nm. Even though there’s no stop-start – the feature is standard on the Cooper and Cooper S cabrios – the car manages 46.9mpg combined.
The One also does without the alloy wheels and chrome trim of higher-spec Convertibles. But the visual differences – the black door mirrors and plastic wheel covers – don’t really stand out.
What’s more, the familiar styling and excellent quality inside mean the One doesn’t lose any of the desirability that is an absolute essential in this competitive sector. The sturdy cloth roof takes only 15 seconds to open fully, and the process can be carried out at up to 20mph.
On the road, the new engine has to be worked hard and still suffers from a lack of low-down torque. Yet the traditional MINI handling characteristics make up for the limited overall power. The direct steering provides plenty of feedback, and thanks to the multi-link rear suspension set-up, the car is engaging to drive.
Practicality is seriously restricted, though. The tiny 125-litre boot is suitable only for small bags, and the back seats make more sense as a luggage area than for passengers.