Short on pace, but big on economy, fun and fashion

What is it?

It could be an extremely relevant car for today’s market. The new Mini Cooper D Convertible seemingly caters for those who want economy, fashion, open-top frolics, around-town usefulness and even the ability to go round corners with some finesse, all in one package. Given the growing number of premium buyers downsizing but wanting to retain the image, it’s clear that there’s a market for it.

This is the first time that a diesel engine has been fitted to the Mk2 Mini Convertible, but the big news is that it is a BMW-produced unit and not a PSA collaboration. The 110bhp turbodiesel motor is a downsized version of BMW’s 2.0-litre four-pot and is being rolled out into hatch, Convertible and Clubman versions of the 2010 facelifted Mini.

What’s it like?

Our test car came with the six-speed manual gearbox and proved that the upgraded engine is a success. It lacks a little low-end torque, which can occasionally leave you floundering between too many revs in second and too few in third at town speeds, but it’s a pleasant unit to use in general.

Standard stop-start works very well in traffic, with not too much clatter on start-up, and the cabin is refined enough despite its fabric roof unless you push the motor into its harsh upper ranges. Which there is very little point to doing anyway, given that the motor is best kept in its responsive if narrow mid-range, when you can rely on the 199lb ft of torque to provide plenty of punch.

But if it’s thrills you’re looking for, this is likely to be a mild disappointment. The diesel engine lends itself well to unhurried cruising, but in the 1200kg Mini Convertible the motor struggles to provide lively performance. That the classic, sharp Mini handling still characterises the car only makes it more obvious that the engine offers very little potency.

Accept that you are sacrificing the energy of the turbo petrol Minis for this more frugal version and there’s still fun to be had. The Convertible responds well to steering input, turning in quickly and offering plenty of grip through corners. Hit the Sport button and the already meaty steering weights up further to give it a very immediate reaction off the straight-ahead but, if anything, a slightly more synthetic feel than when in its normal setting.

Scuttle shake has been improved on the new Convertible, too, though there is still an element of flex and fidget over unsettled surfaces that results both from the lack of a tin top and relatively firm springs.

Flawed as it is, the Mini Cooper D Convertible is a very appealing prospect. Such impressive economy and emissions in a car that offers all the style and fun factor of any Mini drop-top will tempt many buyers – most of whom will care very little, if at all, that it doesn’t quite deliver the sparkle and energy some might want from a Mini.

Should I buy one?

The biggest hurdle for any prospective owners will be the price. At £17,870 this is not a cheap car. Granted, residuals will most likely be as robust as ever, but that doesn’t altogether take the sting out of paying so much for a car with very limited practicality.

Still, no rival offers the same level of efficiency, performance and desirability, so if the Mini Cooper D Convertible appeals there is little not to like beyond the cost and a certain shortage of performance. For many, that will be an easy price to pay and an even easier decision to live with.

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Mini Cooper D Convertible

Price: £17,870; Top speed: 121mph; 0-62mph: 10.3sec; Economy: 70.6mpg; CO2: 105g/km; Kerb weight: 1200kg; Engine type: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 110bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 199lb ft at 1750-2250rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual


Join the debate

Add a comment… 10 August 2010

Re: Mini Cooper D Convertible

" It lacks a little low-end torque, which can occasionally leave you floundering between too many revs in second and too few in third at town speeds"

Too bad, diesels and V twin motorcycles usually have lots of low end torque

Convertibles can be great in the right conditions

Try doing this in a mini and it won't be so good

or even this

Just to show you how far we have come;

superstevie 10 August 2010

Re: Mini Cooper D Convertible

shame that the drive shafts broke, hopefully they will beef them up a little and get it in production. Would be a belter I am sure!

oldlandie 8 August 2010

Re: Mini Cooper D Convertible

When I went to to the Cowley factory a few weeks ago, the staff were sure the 2011 mini was being fitted with 2 litre engines basically in 116d spec. I was shown a few on the production line.

A mini cooper s with a 123d spec engine has been built and driven at the factory but the driveshafts are totally inadequate and broke repeatedly.

Interestingly they would like to have a new customer car collection facility at Cowley like Mercedes in Germany.