Personality is one thing of which the 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible has plenty. Certainly, it’s not cargo space nor rear-seat room. But, it’s one of those cars that makes you feel good just by sliding behind its wheel. It’s fun, spunky and handles like the storied BMWs with which it shares some DNA. Oh, and it’s a bit weird. For example, the speedometer is the size of a kitchen-wall clock and sits in the middle of the instrument panel. But, hey, that’s part of the charm.
For those wishing to tailor their car to their own personality, Mini provides customizing opportunities galore. Sure, the 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible is a bit pricey, particularly for a car its size, but even the base Cooper is a hoot to drive. It straightens the gnarliest of curves, accelerating with enthusiasm. Just don’t count on driving it to the big-box store for that 60-in flat-screen TV unless you are willing to drop the top and stuff it in the backseat like a piece of toast sticking out of a toaster. When it comes to that other "P" word (practicality), the Cooper Convertible is a bit stunted. But, you can’t have everything, right?
What’s New for 2019?
A multifunction steering wheel, a radio with 6.5-in touchscreen, Union Jack styled rear LED lights, a USB port and Bluetooth interface are now standard on every Cooper. Wireless charging is a new option.
What We Like
- Sophisticated engines
- Great fuel economy
- Responsive handling
- Inspired styling
- Makes parking fun
What We Don’t
- Tiny back seat and cargo bay
- Ergonomically challenged controls
- Stiff ride with sport package
Mini Cooper models are based on three engines. Base models use a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder that makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. With the standard 6-speed manual, that engine returns 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. With the optional 6-speed automatic, it returns 27 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined. You may get slightly better fuel economy with the 2-door Cooper.
Next up is the Cooper S, which uses a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Cooper, getting the automatic on the S yields better fuel economy, at 25 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined. With the manual, it’s 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
At the top of the range is the John Cooper Works variant. It uses an upgraded version of the standard Cooper S engine that produces more power, 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, but gets the same fuel economy estimates.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible is offered with three powertrains arranged into models: a base model dubbed Cooper, the even sportier Cooper S and the high-performance John Cooper Works variant. For 2019, Mini has created three trim levels (Classic, Signature and Iconic) for each powertain model. Unraveling standard and optional features is complicated, as Mini offers some upgrades as no-cost options. It’s a mess. What we are calling standard equipment here is what is actually standard if you don’t choose any of the no-cost options.
In trying to somehow streamline this section, we have opted to display pricing for the base Classic trim on each engine model. Then we show the upcharge and content of the Signature and Iconic trim levels for each. Classic prices include the $850 factory delivery charge.
The base-level Cooper Classic ($27,750) provides 15-in silver wheels, power convertible roof, power heated folding outboard mirrors with washer jets, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Sensatec leatherette seating, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic multifunction steering wheel, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, a 6.5-in touchscreen, a 6-speaker audio system, rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
Step up to the Cooper S Classic ($31,750), which adds 16-in alloy wheels, run-flat tires, Mini driving modes, remote window/convertible top controls and satellite-radio capability.
At the top of the Mini Cooper Convertible lineup is the sporty John Cooper Works Classic ($38,250), which adds 17-in alloy wheels, larger brakes, sport suspension, upgraded front sport seats, LED headlamps with cornering lights, an aerodynamic body kit, sport pedals and grippy simulated suede/cloth upholstery.
To the Cooper Classic, the Cooper Signature ($3,000) adds, 16-in alloy wheels, Steptronic automatic transmission, Comfort Access keyless entry, heated front seats and automatic climate control.
To the Cooper S Classic, the Cooper S Signature ($4,000) adds the sport automatic transmission, Comfort Access keyless entry, convertible wind deflector, heated front seats, automatic climate control, and Active Driving Assistant with park distance control, active cruise control and parking assistant.
To the John Cooper works Classic, the John Cooper Works Signature ($3,000) adds everything in the Cooper S Signature plus JCW sport seats.
No matter the engine, stepping up to the Iconic adds $8,000. In the Cooper Iconic and Cooper S Iconic the added features over and above the Signature include 17-in alloy wheels, an upgraded steering wheel, power-folding outboard mirrors, and auto-dimming outboard and rearview mirrors.
To the John Cooper Works Signature grade, the JCW Iconic adds any Iconic features in the Cooper and Cooper S plus 18-in alloy wheels.
The Cooper convertible lineup is full of optional extras, as Mini is famous for letting drivers customize cars any way they want. Options include adaptive headlights, heated seats, automatic climate control, a navigation system, a keyless-starting system, satellite radio and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Drivers can also choose from dozens of wheel combinations, paint colors and interior schemes.
The 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, four airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain) and an active rollover protection bar.
No third party has crash tested the Cooper Convertible.
Behind the Wheel
The Mini Cooper Convertible squirts along the road like an amped-up athlete who can’t wait to get on the field. That’s especially true once you hit the little Sport button next to the shifter, causing the throttle and steering response to get far quicker. We find the default suspension tuning firm and aggressive. The optional sport suspension is needlessly stiff, and combining that option with the available 18-in wheels is a recipe for compressed vertebrae. Road noise is pronounced at speed. Put it this way: The Mini has one big personality. Surprisingly, little of it is lost in the transition to a convertible. The ragtop model feels every bit as enjoyable and fun to drive as its hardtop sibling.
The base Mini’s front seats have weak side bolsters, which makes upgrading to the optional sport seats (standard on Cooper S) worthwhile, though the chair-like driving position gives the driver a surprisingly commanding view. The pedals are perfectly placed, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes for comfort. Mini’s entertaining website calls its standard setup the Alert Ergonomic Driving Position — and we wholeheartedly agree with that description.
The audio and climate controls, however, are laid out haphazardly. In a nod to kitschy retro design, some controls use stylish but frustrating toggle switches rather than knobs or buttons. Material quality is also hit or miss. We’re fans of the enormous center-mounted speedometer, though it takes a little getting used to.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 FIAT 500c — We consider the 500c a step down from the Mini Cooper Convertible, but it’s also a lot cheaper. Meanwhile, the turbocharged 500 Abarth convertible has a great engine and is almost as quick as the Cooper S Convertible for a little less money. Plus, it sounds fantastic.
2019 Ford Mustang — Sure, it may seem a whole different animal from the Mini Cooper Convertible, but at its core, the Mustang offers many of the same thrills: top-down driving, high-performance capabilities and enjoyable styling. It’s also priced about the same as the Mini, but with far more power.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata — If turning heads is your priority, you might want to consider the drop-top MX-5 Miata, which is still turning heads after all these years. With only two seats, it’s not as practical as the Cooper, but its rear-wheel-drive layout helps to make it more exciting in the curves.
2019 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible — Although the Fiat 124 Spider is based off the MX-5 platform, it has a style and feel all its own, plus a turbocharged engine that’s less powerful than the MX-5’s engine.
We’ve had a crush on the Cooper S ever since it came out, and we’re still feeling the love. Make ours a base Cooper S Convertible with the standard suspension, 16-in wheels and the manual transmission. Spirited performance and handling, plus 32 mpg, makes for one happy bunch of Autotrader editors. Find a Mini Cooper Convertible for sale