MINI Convertible Sidewalk review

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The limited edition MINI Sidewalk Convertible is just what the doctor ordered to lift the spirits. Loaded with extra kit inside and out the little two door isn’t cheap at nearly 50 grand but the four seater is a real bundle of fun.

The key question is why should you pay almost twenty grand more than the entry MINI convertible? First up the Sidewalk is a Cooper S so it has more power than the entry 136hp Cooper Convertible. Apart from ‘Sidewalk’ badging here is some of the stuff you’re paying extra for: Outside – Sidewalk features a unique metallic paint colour – Deep Laguna with complimentary bonnet stripes, 17 inch alloys and a special woven-in arrow patterned soft top that all help the car standa out, another factor will be the car’s rarity as just 150 examples going on sale Ireland and the UK.

Inside the four seat cabin there are very comfy anthracite-coloured MINI Yours Leather Lounge seats, a special leather sports steering wheel, an impressive Harmon Kardon sound system and a head up display among the highlights. A number of usually optional MINI packs are standard too: The Navigation Plus Pack features – take a deep breath: A navigation system with an 8.8″ touch screen display (Real Time Traffic Information), ‘ConnectedDrive Services’ (including Online Search and Weather Information), Enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, MINI Connected, MINI Connected XL with additional features including Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, Concierge Service, MINI Visual Boost Radio, Remote Services. The Comfort Plus Pack includes: Rear view camera, heated seats, front and rear park parking sensors, parking assistant. The Convertible Pack adds comfort access, a wind deflector and an top down ‘Always Open Timer’.

While there are four seat belts three can travel in reasonable comfort – with a full size driver – although the rear seat back is quite upright and not that comfortable. When driven two-up the car is perfect. Getting the top down or up takes a press of a toggle switch (or press of the key) and 18 seconds. A collapsible wind breaker (wind deflector) is easy to use and make motorway work a joy as it gets rid of the whip around turbulence that can really batter you – especially on longer trips. The soft top opens in two stages and with it partially open you will get a strong dose of air on your head – much more than from a sunroof. With the roof up and in place the cabin is surprisingly well insulated when you consider the soft tops shape and sheer volume. A couple of levers in the boot allow you expand the boot aperture by easing up the soft top’s base.

The Sidewalk comes in petrol powered Cooper S ‘TwinPower’ turbo form. There is 192hp going to the front wheels through a 7-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddle shifters. With the press of another toggle button three selectable driving modes can alter how the car behaves: Minimal is the economical option, Mid is well mid, and Sport dials things up to 11. Is it fun to chuck about? Yes most definitely, and this is the joy of MINI. The car feels, and this may sound odd, refreshingly mechanical. It is not a hushed EV, its not a sensible car – although the boot is tiny at 160-215 litres it is still quite usable, that said I had to utilise the back seats for the the big weekly grocery shop.

Having a MINI means you will happily embrace its shortcomings as a consumer good and get a huge amount of joy from its quirks and personality.

MINI Convertible pricing starts at €28,424 (Classic) with the Sidewalk Cooper S from Convertible at €47,840.

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About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for 20 years, more recently a judge for Van of the Year. Michael is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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