If you’re after a sporty compact with four seats, cute styling, and loads of street cred, then a MINI Cooper may be to your liking. If, however, your driving needs also require the sun on your face and the wind in your hair then the MINI Cooper Convertible is the ideal vehicle for you.
Priced from $24,950 the 2012 MINI Cooper Convertible may initially seem expensive considering this is still a compact car, but after a quick spin you’ll quickly realize that it’s money well-spent.
The Volkswagen Eos and Beetle Convertible are also worth a look at if you’re in the market for a stylish and somewhat affordable drop-top, as is MINI’s own Cooper Roadster, which launches this year and is priced slightly higher at $25,050. The only downside to the Cooper Roadster is that it’s a strict two-seater. The Cooper Convertible, on the other hand, has four seats, albeit two of them are only ideal for small children.
Common to the MINI lineup, the Cooper Convertible comes in several different trims starting with the base model. The engine option here is a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder with only 121 horsepower.
If you like a bit of performance we strongly recommend going for the mid-level Cooper S, which gets a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter base engine good for 181 horsepower, or the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW) model, which also sports a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine but with a 208 horsepower output.
The Cooper S gets a sportier suspension, and the John Cooper Works is sportier still, with a range of unique exterior aerodynamic elements and badging, but all share the same core structure and fun-to-drive nature.
All models come with front-wheel drive only and while some do offer an automatic transmission, we suggest going with the standard manual as it not only offers you a lot more fun, it’s a bit cheaper too.
All models also come fairly well-equipped, with standard items including 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, a meter to record how long the top has been open, and depending on which model you pick, a multi-function computer, power accessories, and tire pressure monitoring.
Some of the new items on the 2012 model include MINI Yours personalization, an optional digital compact installed in the rear-view mirror and a wider selection of upholstery combinations.
For a more detailed look at the 2012 MINI Cooper Convertible, and some of its rivals, check out the full review over at our sister site The Car Connection.