By Asian Journal Auto Editor
If you like, fast, beautifully built, and incredible, handling small cars you can’t get much better than the MINI. Yes! That British icon still hits the good spot. The MINI arrives in a few versions including: a 2- and 4-door Hardtop, 2-door convertible, the Countryman crossover, and the Clubman wagon. But for our tester we were kindly loaned a 2019 MINI Cooper S convertible. For the 2019 MINI, there are a few changes – a mild facelift that adds more integrated looking headlights, which now feature an LED ring around, and also work as amber turn signals. Other features include: cool, new LED taillights with a Union Jack design, new exterior badges, and a light-up Union Jack motif on the dashboard with the new Piano Black trim interior and exterior option. New features also include Bluetooth and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen as standard and wireless phone charging. Other options offer an 8.8 inch info screen; and a new Malt Brown Chesterfield leather upholstery to go with the mindboggling list of extra equipment. For 2019, there are also a bevy of new paint options – Emerald Gray, Starlight Blue and Solaris Orange – and new allow wheels designs.
Of course, MINI offers plenty of personalization packages at premium prices. The Mini Yours Customised program, allows customers to design their own 3D-printed exterior side vents, door sills, dashboard trim pieces and custom graphics for a unique look. Additional tech features include a color head-up display, a self-parking system, adaptive cruise control, and a 12-speaker, 410-watt Harman Kardon audio system. New technology includes an extra USB port, and 4G LTE connectivity. The optional Rain Warner app warns the driver if rain is approaching when the Mini Convertible’s top is down. Remote Services, part of the Mini Connected App, shows vehicle location, and can lock and unlock your Mini, flash the lights, honk the horn, and turn on the climate control.
Few mechanical changes are being made for the 2019 edition of the MINI, and it continues in the base convertible form with 1.5-liter, 134 hp turbo-three engine. The more luxuriously equipped MINI Convertible Cooper S: as tested adds the more powerful 2.0-liter engine. There is of course the top of the line 2019 MINI Convertible John Cooper Works: with 228 horsepower and special JCW trim pieces. The Cooper S 2.0-liter turbo-four as tested makes a commendable 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, and arrives with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six speed automatic. All powertrains send power to the front wheels.
Safety is high with the MINI Convertible Cooper and it arrives as standard with a rearview camera with parking sensors and an active roll bar that deploys instantly when the car senses a rollover. The self-parking system is found in the Technology package that also includes a navigation system with real-time traffic information displayed on an 8.8-inch center screen. Also optional is an adaptive cruise control system that’s bundled with an automatic emergency braking feature.
Interior wise, the MINI offers a roomy front cabin with comfortable sports seats, the unique to MINI interior and dash still offers a pleasing ambience, there is a nice chunky steering wheel, a center armrest, and ambient lighting options that give the MINI a wonderful feel of exclusivity. The powered convertible top drops in about 15 seconds and can be operated at speeds under 30 km/h). The top also has three preset positions it can stop at. The rear cabin is predictably a little tight on legroom, but fine on headroom. The Convertible top can hold up to 5.7 cubic feet of cargo in its trunk.
On the road the MINI was surprisingly quiet with the top up on the highways and noise was muted with its top down. It is only on rough potholed road where you can feel extra harshness. Steering is a high point with a real point and squirt feel, with lots of torque when the engine is called upon. Although it’s a small front wheel drive car, grip, and traction control is exceptional. Excellent engineering means the chassis has no discernible flex. Nothing much to complain about really- rear visibility is not great and the back seat is tight and of course the MINI starts getting rather pricy once you start ticking option boxes. However, the MINI is a fantastic car to own and drive. An automotive icon.
2019 MINI Cooper Convertible base priced MSRP $29,690. MINI Cooper S Convertible as tested priced from $33,990 plus options and taxes. More info at www.mini.ca