Ah the Irish summer… guaranteed sunshine, warm temperatures and no rain – NOT!
We are an optimistic nation but our weather does its very best to beat us down. People there is a reason Ireland is so green… feckin’ rain. The reality of an Irish summer is that the weather is as predictable as a Basset Hound.
Despite this meteorological injustice Irish drivers and our nearest neighbours in the UK (who get almost as bad a deal with sunshine as we Celts) love a convertible. Combine a drop top and an already heap of fun MINI Cooper S and you have a winning combination. All the clichés are pretty much true when it comes to the grin inducing drive a Cooper S MINI can deliver. The driving position, direct steering and cornering grip are key to its sharp handling. But with a convertible it is less about foot to the floor motoring and more about the journey, just cruising. The cloth roof lets in a fair bit of the world outside when up. At traffic lights you can hear phones ringing in cars and often identify tunes blaring from stereos. With the roof down, an act that is done electronically, MINI’s four seat cabin is engulfed in light. On motorway you can pop up all four side windows via a single switch and likewise when speeds drop lower the glass in a jiffy to get maximum exposure. The boot doesn’t have to be empty or reconfigured to allow the hood to drop as it folds into its own space leaving quite a large amount of rear view mirror filled with folded canvas. I tend to drive with my seat at its lowest position (a force of habit from racing that keeps the centre of gravity as low as possible) and found the rear visibility a little compromised. Thankfully there was an excellent reversing camera on my car.
Power in the Cooper S comes from a 2 litre four cylinder petrol engine. Output is 192hp with 280nm of torque available… so it pulls quite strongly in any of the six forward gears. 0-100kph takes 7.2 seconds and CO2 is a modest 142g. MINI claims 6.1 (46.3mpg) and if you flick the MINI driving mode from Normal or Sport to Green you can get a reasonable return.
MINI ownership has grown over the years and so has its price. Drop top motoring with the BMW owned brand starts from €27,270 (Cooper 136hp) but you do get a cloth roof to help you stand out from the crowd. €29,260 gets the 116hp Cooper D – ideal for high mileage users. The range topping Cooper S with 192hp delivered through its front wheels, starts from €33,690. The Convertible range is circa €4K more than the hard top and is a little cheaper than the Clubman but very similar to the Countryman SUV in asking price.
Our test car had a €5,260.76 MINI Sport Pack fitted that included 17 inch alloys, multi function steering wheel and a few John Cooper sporty bit and pieces plus some other cost extras like adaptive LED headlights (€1,107.95) and the novel ‘Always Open Timer’ (€209.76) that displays how long the roof has been down. If we were to hand over cash for our great looking machine it would be a cool €43,638.87… that’s a whack of cash but in truth the MINI Cooper S Convertible is a massive amount of fun that is brilliant craic to drive and looks as cute as a basket of puppies… too much?!
By the way if you have a convertible and haven’t driven it with the top down on a starry night in the middle of winter – you haven’t lived. Crank up the heat to your feet, wrap up warm and enjoy the blast.