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Old 1st April 2016, 16:57   #1
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Default Driven: Mini Cooper S Convertible

The 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible has been launched in India at Rs. 34.90 lakhs (ex-showroom all-India).

What you’ll like:

• Retro-chic styling - now in a roofless package!
• Impressive build quality and fit & finish inside-out
• Punchy motor + snappy gearbox = Effortless performance!
• Go-kart-like handling and direct steering make it very chuckable
• Near infinite levels of customisation

What you won’t:

• Stiff ride can be exhausting, especially on longer drives
• Exorbitant price tag. Being a CBU doesn't help either
• Standard car is bare bones. Optional extras are eye-wateringly expensive
• A manual gearbox is sorely missed
• Awfully cramped rear seat


Last edited by GTO : 1st April 2016 at 17:01.
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Old 1st April 2016, 16:57   #2
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Back in the late ‘50s, the need of the hour was a compact yet spacious car that was economical to run. The Mini was conceptualised for the sole purpose of commuting. The transversely-mounted engine and clever packaging was meant to liberate as much room inside as possible whilst keeping the external dimensions small - it was revolutionary for its time, when every other car had longitudinally-mounted, gas guzzling engines driving the rear wheels.

Little did the boffins in the R&D department realise that their finished product - a car designed for the masses, would spawn a new breed of cars that would ultimately change the way series production cars are put together!

Over the years, Minis were used as city-runabouts by innumerable families, pressed into service on gruelling rally stages, used as a canvas for tuning / performance, and even managed to snag a few roles in movies and TV shows! The Mini became the quintessential motoring icon that it is today!

Fast forward to 2013 - the year that BMW chose to bring the famed marque to the country. Incidentally, India happens to be the 100th country where the brand made its presence felt. The Indian innings began with the launch of the R56 Cooper in ’S’ trim and the Cooper Convertible, not to mention the Countryman. The R56 Mini was approaching the end of its generation cycle and the new F55/F56 Mini was already doing rounds in testing circuits around the globe.

BMW is looking to expand the Mini Cooper range by launching the Convertible version in the hot-footed ’S’ trim, thus giving the well-heeled the option of open-top motoring and potentially pant-wetting performance.



The 3rd generation Mini Cooper Convertible (codenamed F57), based on BMW’s UKL platform, retains the retro-chic styling of the marque’s famed icon. The average Joe would take a while to tell the difference between the new car and the outgoing one. That said, if you look closely, you’d notice that the car has grown significantly! It’s longer than the outgoing car by a full 98 millimetres, and most of that seems to have gone into the front overhang since the wheelbase is just under 3 cm more than the old car. As a result, the new gen Mini has lost that characteristic ‘punched nose’ look of the old Minis and that’s a little disappointing. Oh, and it’s 44 mm wider than the outgoing car too, at 1,727 mm! Make no mistake though, it’s still very Mini! You could say that it’s around the same size as most hatchbacks in the 8-10 lakh bracket, i.e. the Polo, Elite i20 and gang. Build quality is solid, typically European - no complaints there. Being a convertible, it’s reasonable to believe that it’s significantly heavier than the standard 3-door hatch, and it is! The additional structural-bracing and electric motor for the folding soft top have added about 115 kg to the standard hatch and she now weighs 1,350 kg.

If you’re the sort with an eye for detail, you’d also notice that the car has gotten a lot more rounded in places. Gone are the incredibly taut proportions and the tight, stretched-around-its-wheels look of the old Cooper. It’s a bit plump, pudgy and a tad too curvy. The new generation’s puffy and voluptuous styling - most noticeable in the severely swollen headlamps, tail-lights, front-grille and bumpers - would lead you to draw comparisons to slightly overweight adolescents suffering from mild food allergies. Spec it with all that chrome and the umpteen trinkets available in the elaborate options list, and you’d be left with what can only be described as an accessory on four wheels that compliments your Prada sunglasses and Louis Vuitton handbag!













If you want wind-in-the-hair motoring fresh off-the-showroom-floor, the Mini Cooper S Convertible is the cheapest option out there. Your next option would be the Audi A3 Cabriolet and that’s a bit more expensive.

You may find faster, more comfortable, more spacious and even more practical cars for the money, but none of them will have the same charmingly fizzy, jumpy, bubbly and cheeky character / personality that the Mini Cooper S exudes oh-so-effortlessly. With that out of the way, it's important to note that the modern MINI continues to detract itself from the cheap and cheerful image that the original car had in dollops.


Last edited by GTO : 4th April 2016 at 08:42.
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Old 1st April 2016, 16:57   #3
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Sir Alec Issigonis, the brainchild behind the original Mini, was someone who wasn't particularly fond of creature comforts as he believed that they distracted the driver. I bet he'd turn in his grave twice if he saw what they've done to the interior of the modern day Mini!! Open the large, frameless doors and youíd be greeted by a sea of circular, spherical and oblique design elements infused with chrome accents and LED lights. The seemingly busy and cluttered innards will tend to overwhelm those who are used to clean and simple interiors.



Youíd be hard-pressed to find material in the cabin that is of sub-standard or even average quality. Everything looks and feels expensive for the most part. Build quality is top notch and fit & finish is premium, as youíd expect from a car in this price range.

Normally, youíd expect a car that grows in size to offer noticeably more wiggle room on the inside, but the Mini Cooperís interior is still a cosy place to be in. The cabin feels narrower than nearly every B-segment hatchback out there. Sure, the boot is a bit larger than the older carís (215 litres), if itís any consolation. That said, you donít for a minute feel hemmed in, and thatís largely due to great frontal and lateral visibility. With the roof up, you may notice the lack of rear windows, although brightening up the cabin is just a toggle switch away .





You wouldn't want to clamber out of those large and supportive seats once youíre in them, especially when you figure out how to adjust the squab for better under-thigh support. However, itís rather sad that seat adjustments have to be made manually in a car that tickles the Rs. 50 lakh barrier. Also, if you intend on using the rear seats for actual people, don't expect them to be chuffed about it. The seat back is just too upright for even short 10 minute journeys and knee room is nearly non-existent. Youíre better off using that space to keep your expensive handbags.

The Audi-like air-con controls have the displays set in the dials. Chromed toggle switches in the central console flank the gorgeous Start-Stop toggle switch that draws inspiration from the switchgear used in the WW-II Fighters of yore. Oh, you could also drop the roof by using the central toggle switch near the IRVM.



I thoroughly enjoyed watching the speedo needle trace the rim of the massive centrally-mounted dinner plate-esque speedometer in the outgoing Mini, although I must admit that it was ridiculously difficult to fathom, especially while on the move. In the new car however, the speedo can be found in its conventional location, i.e. behind the steering wheel along with the rev counter. It wasn't just the speedometer in the outgoing car that divided opinion. The toggles in the old car's central console operated the windows - another ergonomic problem that's been looked after this time around.



The 6.5Ē display nestled in the central pod and paired to its idiot-proof scroll wheel (placed next to the handbrake) should keep you sufficiently entertained while waiting at traffic lights. You've also got the optional Harman Kardon stereo to belt out those classics that you could stream from your Bluetooth device, if you've left your pen drive at home and are in no mood to untangle that auxiliary cable tucked into the cup holder. Speaking of which, thereís no shortage of cubby spaces in this car to stash those knick-knacks and loose change. A cooled glove compartment, an additional glove box above it, cup holders and door pockets should help stow away essentials.

Last edited by GTO : 1st April 2016 at 16:59.
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Old 1st April 2016, 16:57   #4
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Downsizing seems to be the norm these days, but BMW / Mini clearly hadn't received the memo. The Convertible finally gets the double-cream, full-fat 2-litre turbocharged 4-pot mill from the Cooper íSí. The out-going Mini Cooper Convertibleís Peugeot-derived, naturally-aspirated (read = wheezy) 1.6 litre motor never did it any justice. BMW claims that this new 2-litre TwinPower Turbocharged engine nestled under that clamshell-bonnet is not only more powerful - 189 BHP (67 BHP more than the N/A Peugeot engine), but also more reliable.




Squeeze the throttle after having engaged ĎSportí mode and the car hooks up and fires down the road with minimal hesitation. Back off the throttle and the exhaust treats you to a little snort on the overrun. The stock exhaust note is pleasing, but even with the top down, it's fairly muted. This is where I would highly recommend that you spec your Convertible with the JCW Kit - complete with JCW steering wheel + paddles, a mild power-bump and a popcorn machine at the back that also happens to expel exhaust gasses.

The punch from the engine is seriously addictive though. Itís a proper point-and-shoot car! Youíll find yourself doing silly and dangerous speeds in no time. The 6-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox is quite snappy and nearly as quick-shifting as the double-clutch units out there. Leave it in ĎDí and the car will amble along, churning out 280 NM of torque at a scarcely believable 1,250 RPM and making ridiculously light work of traffic. You could leave the gearbox in íSí to keep the engine on the boil or use the convenient yet shockingly optional(!) paddles to summon those 189 horses. Unfortunately, a manual transmission isnít even an option and thereís no doubt that rowing the gears yourself would have been an absolute hoot in this little car. That being said, the claimed acceleration figure in the automatic is actually marginally faster! 7.1 seconds is what it takes the Cooper S Convertible to tickle the century mark from a standstill.

The claimed fuel efficiency of 14.59 km/l seems far-fetched, given the sort of performance it's capable of. But with all of its torque peaking at a low 1,250 revs and the 'Green' mode's 'coast' feature that decouples the drivetrain at cruising speeds working in conjunction with the engine start-stop feature, you might manage double digits with a light foot.

If you've driven one of the larger-displacement TSI engines from the VAG stable, the Cooper Sí straight-line performance would seem familiar. But turn the steering wheel and thatís where the similarities ends.

For what is essentially an EPS unit, BMW has done a remarkable job with the steering's calibration! Itís sharp, accurate and a little chatty, albeit artificial. Even minimal steering inputs will induce immediate reactions and results! The light front end makes it darty, agile and extremely eager to turn in. It's an absolute joy to pelt around sweeping curves and tight bends. That said, it seems to have lost just a little bit of that sharpness that youíd find in the old R56 Cooper's steering. It may be more mature and grown up, but itís still a very lively, direct and fun car that loves to be flung around all day long.

Sport mode a.k.a. ĎMaximum Go-Kart Feelí changes the character of the car, although not by a great deal. It sharpens up the throttle, stiffens up the dampers, dials in a bit of weight into the steering and keeps the engine in its power-band by holding onto a lower gear. You could also fiddle with the settings and have it set the way you like. For instance, you could have your sharper throttle and loud exhaust, but still have the dampers set up for normal driving.

On smooth roads, the car remains composed and sorted even when pushed hard. On less-than-perfect streets though, the chinks in its armour will begin to surface. The ride quality on the Sporty damper setting is harsh, even on remotely uneven / rough surfaces. Thereís very little compliance from the dampers at higher speeds. In the default damper setting, itís bearable, but only just. There is an improvement in ride quality over the outgoing car, but itís still a stiffly sprung set-up. Long drives will be potentially exhausting thanks to the busy ride. And typical of Minis, it will sniff out cambers and hopelessly tramline as well! Hit a bump mid-corner and the car will feel unsettled, twitchy and nervous. Introduce water to the surface and youíre going to have your hands full. It can be playful and engaging as long as you know what youíre doing. Grip levels from the Hankook Ventus rubbers are satisfactory, but the runflats ruin the ride quality further. An after-market swap may not be such a bad thing.

The Cooper S Convertible had to receive additional structural bracing underneath the radiator, doors and cabin in order to improve rigidity and compensate for the loss of support from the pillars / roof.

Stopping this little car is nearly as enjoyable as hustling it. The brake pedal is sharp, progressive, bites hard without feeling grabby and offers good feedback. Ventilated discs up front and solid discs at the back do a great job of shedding speed and bringing the little car to a stop sans drama. A host of electronic aids like ABS, EBD, CBC, DSC, DTC etc. ensure that you donít find your way into a ditch too easily.

Last edited by GTO : 1st April 2016 at 16:59.
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Old 1st April 2016, 16:57   #5
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The Smaller yet Significant Things:

Safety features include dual front airbags, 3-point seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat mounts, brake assist, dynamic stability control, ABS, cornering brake control and runflat indicator. It also gets 4 invisible roll bars that deploy in the event of a rollover accident. If you look closely, you'd find the pods (garnished with chrome-rings) located just behind the neck restraints:


The roof can be closed / opened in 18 seconds at speeds up to 30 km/h; alternatively, you could retract the canvas top by 40 cm of the soft-top and use it as a sunroof. Try opening the roof while going over 30 km/h and an audible chime + display warning tell you to reduce your speed to operate the roof:
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The boot is larger than the outgoing car’s by ~25% i.e. 215 litres with the top up (160 litres with the top down). It can be accessed by folding the boot-lid down and using a lever (as demonstrated in the gif) to improve accessibility for larger items such as suitcases. The boot lid can be used for parking items and has a tolerance of up to 80 kg of weight:
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An example of a styling feature that looks like it serves a purpose, but actually doesn’t - why have a non-functional air-scoop just to differentiate trim levels? The old one at least had an open honeycomb mesh (this one is plugged). It’s an epidemic with manufacturers these days:


BMW took the launch of the Mini Cooper S Convertible as an opportunity to showcase the incredible levels of customisation and personalisation that can be done. A wide range of metallic exterior colours - 11 to be precise. 10 of them will cost you Rs. 60,000:


The 11th is the Lapisluxury Blue body paint which is an eye-watering 1.2 lakh option:


18" optional wheels:


A wide range of John Cooper Works Tuning products are available. These include JCW muffler tips and a JCW steering with paddles:


Auxiliary lights:


Soft top with the woven Union Jack graphic is a 90,000 rupee option:


Cufflink-like trinkets for the door locks:


Union Jack side scuttle:


Unique Union Jack touches inside the cabin:


Disclaimer: BMW-Mini invited Team-BHP for the Cooper Convertible test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 4th April 2016 at 08:16.
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Old 1st April 2016, 17:05   #6
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Default Re: Driven: Mini Cooper S Convertible

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing - rating 5 stars!
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Old 1st April 2016, 18:31   #7
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Delicious Car. Lovely review. Your expressions are "Pant-Wittingly" priceless!
Ha ha!
I loved this review truly!

And I LOVE this car!
Waiting for some rich dude to buy it, get bored with it and then let it trickle down into the second hand market where I shall be lurking like a slightly demented, rather rotund shark!

(I aspire like the blazes to this car. I would love to own one if it meets my financial capabilities. And it will be my one and only car for a time...if I manage to afford one.)

GTO:

Please check the following sentence and fact.

Quote" At 3,850 mm, it is longer than the outgoing car and most of that seems to have gone into the front overhang since the wheelbase is 28 mm more than the old car at 2,495 mm."

Last edited by GTO : 4th April 2016 at 09:34. Reason: Merging back to back posts
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Old 2nd April 2016, 10:47   #8
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Default Re: Driven: Mini Cooper S Convertible

When I have the spare cash.......this is what I want

SIGH!!
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Old 3rd April 2016, 12:11   #9
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35 Lacs for a convertible hatchback!!
Not in this Life...maybe Next.

The interiors look classy in white. Am hooked with those Union Jack trinklets and side scuttles!
Nice on part of its parent BMW to provide a decent amount of customizations. Am shocked that they are charging 60K more for the other color trims. Shouldn't that be included specially when you are charging close to 35L for it?
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Old 3rd April 2016, 12:28   #10
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Quote:
Shouldn't that be included specially when you are charging close to 35L for it?
Perhaps you should visit or try online configurator at Porsche, 89000 INR is what they charge for wing mirror paint ( standard is partial black!) for a Cayenne starting with base price of Rs 1 Cr. , coming to Mini of the 35 Lac or so , Government is taking more than 50 % as Taxes - Import duties , VAT
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Old 3rd April 2016, 13:31   #11
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Default Re: Driven: Mini Cooper S Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
BMW-Mini invited Team-BHP for the Cooper Convertible test-drive.
Was this in Goa on 18th March by any chance? I was driving to the airport and saw many Mini's with numbers (1-14 I think) pasted on the windscreen driving North to South on the Highway. Some cars had permanent registration numbers whereas others were on dealer plates.
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Old 3rd April 2016, 16:50   #12
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Even though I love the mini, i am of the opinion that convertibles are useless in India just like commuting on motorbikes. We dont have the weather or the environment for it. All it represents is novelty of owning a convertible. Excellent review as always.
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Old 4th April 2016, 08:59   #13
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Default Re: Driven: Mini Cooper S Convertible

I don't believe in rebirth but with such cars, I wish it was true and I could be a rich guy in my next birth! The car is mouth watering! Wish I could own one.
Beetles and coopers-no matter how many other cars come and go, they'll always be liked by one and all. Unfortunately, most of us Indians can only fantasize them.

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Originally Posted by extreme_torque View Post
Even though I love the mini, i am of the opinion that convertibles are useless in India just like commuting on motorbikes. We don't have the weather or the environment for it. All it represents is novelty of owning a convertible.
It's definitely Novelty, but not entirely useless. When you are able to buy this one, It'll not be the only car. So, on a pleasant day of winter, you can always take it on a long drive.
Its definitely not for your daily commute to office which includes crossing BTM, Silk board and Marthahalli to reach Whitefield (the names are famous areas in Bangalore)

Last edited by hemanth.anand : 4th April 2016 at 09:21. Reason: added 'not' in the last sentence
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Old 4th April 2016, 09:24   #14
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Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post
Edited the post.
It definitely is NOT for the daily commute
I still had not finished my breakfast and guess I was too hungry.
I d love to have a car like this as my only car and daily driver.

As it is, I own only one car and intend to keep it that way. No sense in having more than one - because it is better to have that one car that you love and enjoy driving every day, rather than a fleet which you will never do justice to.

If I some day find that I could afford or am willing to stretch the budget and somehow accommodate a luxury automobile, there are presently only 3 choices (for me) available in this market - 1. Mini Cooper S. 2. Mercedes GLA. 3. Audi Q3 Quattro Top Spec.

When the car does go for servicing, then there is always Uber...

Last edited by shankar.balan : 4th April 2016 at 09:26.
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Old 4th April 2016, 11:17   #15
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Originally Posted by Skyline_GT View Post
35 Lacs for a convertible hatchback!!
Not in this Life...maybe Next.
35 Lakhs ex-showroom. Not including road-tax, registration, insurance, etc. Oh, and I'm certain the price will go beyond 50 lakhs if you spec it with optional accessories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrolourenco View Post
Was this in Goa on 18th March by any chance? I was driving to the airport and saw many Mini's with numbers (1-14 I think) pasted on the windscreen driving North to South on the Highway. Some cars had permanent registration numbers whereas others were on dealer plates.
Yes, this was in Goa. 14 Minis tearing-up the streets - in true Italian Job fashion - must have been quite a sight for bystanders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by extreme_torque View Post
Even though I love the mini, i am of the opinion that convertibles are useless in India just like commuting on motorbikes. We dont have the weather or the environment for it. All it represents is novelty of owning a convertible. Excellent review as always.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hemanth.anand View Post

It's definitely Novelty, but not entirely useless. When you are able to buy this one, It'll not be the only car. So, on a pleasant day of winter, you can always take it on a long drive.
Its definitely not for your daily commute to office which includes crossing BTM, Silk board and Marthahalli to reach Whitefield (the names are famous areas in Bangalore)
I agree. Harsh and dusty conditions aren't ideal for driving with the top down. Also, I'm not a fan of convertibles because of that 'on display' feeling you get while driving around. The Mini Convertible, particular, is more suited to the fairer-sex, in my opinion. But on those rare occasions, it's a great feeling.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 4th April 2016 at 11:18.
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