My road test took place in July; a month, this year, that was associated with another four letter word – rain. Happily, the monsoons subsided long enough to allow me to drop the top on this week’s review car, the 2022 MINI Cooper Convertible. The front drive, two door soft top is offered in base (MSRP $27,900), S ($31,900), and John Cooper Works ($38,900) models. Base models are fitted with a 1.5L turbocharged three cylinder engine, rated at 136 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. The mid-range S upgrades to a 2.0L turbo four, making 192 h.p. and 206 lb.-ft. of torque. Finally, JCW versions also run the 2.0 Litre turbo, tweaked to the tune of 231 h.p., and 235 lb.-ft. Zero to sixty times for the three engines are quoted by the company at 8.2, 6.7 and 6.3 seconds, respectively. The JCW cars are automatic only – a dual clutch eight-speed – while the base and S models get a stick shift, with optional automatic. The MINI Convertible is fun to drive. It handles well, and ride quality is generally good, though jittery on rough pavement.
Each model can be had in one of three trim levels – Classic, Signature and Iconic. The interior – particularly in top, Iconic trim – presents nicely. Materials, fit and finish have a quality look and feel. When they debuted, modern eras MINI’s (2001-present) made a splash with their hip, interior designs. Dominating the dash was a pie plate sized speedometer, dead center in the dashboard. That location doubtless made for many an interesting conversation between driver and passengers, and the speedometer was eventually relocated to a more conventional spot, less subject to peer review. These days, the rim of the center dash circle is ringed with lights, and houses a conventional, multi-display screen. A larger (8.8″) display is now standard on all trims, and for 2022, the driver is greeted by a redesigned steering wheel. Sirius satellite radio is newly standard on all trims (1 year complementary subscription). Apple CarPlay integration is now available, though not so, for Android Auto. The optional, Harmon Kardon system provides premium sound, regardless of speed or top status.
Front seats adjust to accommodate most any size driver/passenger. Rear seating is of the +2 variety. Taller adults in front effectively erase leg room in back. That space does nicely as well padded storage for briefcases, purses, bags and what have you. The rear seatbacks fold forward, extending the trunk’s stowage space. Total storage capacity is decidedly in the “pack light” category, ranging from 5.7-7.6 cubic feet.
The MINI’s convertible top is snug fitting and cozy when raised, and the lid can be lowered or lifted in about 18 seconds, at speeds up to 18 mph. The combination of the roof’s wide c-pillars and small backlight hinder rear-¾ visibility. A blind spot monitoring system would be useful, but is surprisingly unavailable. In addition to fully up or down, the top has an intermediate position, with the front portion sliding back to a spot about 15″ from the windshield header. It’s a stylish look, though the breeziest of the open top positions. Fully down, with windows likewise, wind buffeting isn’t objectionable, even at highway speeds. And windows up, with the rear blocker fitted, it’s calmer still in the cabin. My pick amongst Convertible MINI models is the S – providing the quick response of the 2.0L turbo, while preserving the choice of stick or automatic.
A 40 year resident of the Capital District, Dan Lyons has been reviewing new cars for publications for nearly 30 years. He is the author of six automotive books, and photographer of more than 200 calendars.