Together with the Mini Countryman being reviewed here, BMW group dominates Canada’s subcompact luxury SUV segment. In fact, with 8,078 collective sales last year, comprising 4,420 examples of the X1,…

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4 Road Test

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The cute little Mini Countryman S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid provides equal amounts of efficiency and driving pleasure. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Together with the Mini Countryman being reviewed here, BMW group dominates Canada’s subcompact luxury SUV segment. In fact, with 8,078 collective sales last year, comprising 4,420 examples of the X1, 2,275 of the Countryman and 1,383 of the sporty X2, the thrifty threesome more than doubled everything Audi and Mercedes-Benz individually had to offer.

Audi’s Q3 managed a respectable 3,734 deliveries for a solid second place in the class throughout 2019, and Mercedes’ 3,689 GLA sales made sure it secured third, but BMW still managed to clobber both challengers despite rather poor year-over-year results. Believe it or not, its SUVs’ stellar performance was after the X1 shed 16.7 percent of its 2018–2019 calendar year sales, while the Countryman did likewise by 8.2 percent, and the X2 by a somewhat concerning 25.5 percent.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
Classic Mini styling from front to back makes the Countryman stand out from its subcompact luxury SUV peers. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Audi Q3 sales were down just 1.2 percent through 2019, but losing ground at all is strange being that it was an all-new model last year. Instead it should have at least reacted like the GLA’s 3.4-percent growth, this achieved after six-plus years of more or less producing the same SUV. Rounding out the subcompact luxury SUV category is the all-new Lexus UX that actually bumped the Countryman from fourth in the segment thanks to 2,683 deliveries, while the still reasonably new Volvo XC40 took sixth place with 2,132 sales for 70.3 percent growth, albeit its 2018 calendar year numbers were only low because it arrived on the scene partway through the year. Moving on, a redesigned Range Rover Evoque grew by 29.8 percent resulting in 1,788 deliveries, while Jaguar’s E-Pace sales collapsed by 27.1 percent to a scant 417 units. Then again, all looked good next to the 93 QX30s Infiniti said goodbye to, this model cancelled, however, but its best-ever year never managed to surpass four figures.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
Evidence of the Countryman’s quality is found in the details, which include LED headlamps and fog lights plus 18-inch alloys as-tested. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The second-generation Countryman arrived for the 2017 model year and therefore has been with us for three years already, or four if we include 2020. Only minor changes improve the 2020 version, or at least this is true for the conventionally powered model. It gets the usual wheel upgrades and other small enhancements, with its standard eight-speed automatic being the most dramatic update. This means the six-speed manual is no longer available due to a new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox becoming standard for front-wheel drive trims in the U.S. market, and the eight-speed auto now standard with all-wheel drive south of the 49th (plus west of the 123rd longitude in the south, 130–142 longitude or so in the north, and don’t make me figure out Windsor/Detroit and the rest of the east coast).

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The S E ALL4’s plug can be found under a stylish garnish on the driver’s side front fender. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

This change wouldn’t be a problem for most brands, even BMW, but Mini attracts a more engaged SUV driver than the norm, especially those opting for the Countryman’s sportiest John Cooper Works trim, so I could imagine some complaints coming from JCW performance purists. The Countryman S E ALL4 remains the same with respect to its transmission, soldiering forward with a six-speed Steptronic automatic that, together with its gasoline-fed 136-horsepower (100kW) 1.5-litre three-cylinder Twin Power Turbo internal combustion engine (ICE) drives the front wheels. The rear wheels are powered solely by an 88-horsepower (65kW) synchronous e-motor via electricity stored in a 7.6 kWh Li-Ion battery.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
Mini provides the Countryman S E ALL4 with a premium quality interior with wonderfully unique character traits. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Depending on need the front wheels can be employed for most of the work, or torque can be divided as needed for slippery conditions via Mini’s drivetrain management system. The Countryman S E ALL4 can also run on electric power alone, but don’t get too excited, as it’s only good for plus/minus 19 kilometres after a full charge.

This brings up the Countryman S E ALL4’s big change for 2020, more EV range. Again, don’t get excited as Mini has only upped its ability to solely run on electric power by 30 percent, or 29 kilometres total, but that near 30-km of maximum EV range might make it worth the hassle of charging up. After all, it doesn’t take much time to top up a 10-kWh battery, so it’s quite possible to use it for running errands while charging it along the way. The benefit can be more available parking spaces/charge stations closer to the entrances of shopping malls and other destinations. Then again, I’d make sure you have some gas in the tank, because as plug-in electrics have become more popular you can never rely on a charge station being available.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The Countryman’s cockpit is well organized and extremely well made. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Interestingly, the S E ALL4 can manage speeds up to 125 km/h (77 mph) under electric power alone, but this said the little PHEV’s range will likely drop down to a few kilometres at such speeds, meaning that this SUV’s top-EV-speed isn’t a specification worth bragging about. This said, the Countryman S E ALL4 manages a top hybrid speed of 220 km/h (137 mph), which is very impressive and would likely land you in the slammer (or at least cause your car to be impounded) anywhere in Canada and in most U.S. states.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
Mini uses plenty of classic touches inside, but it’s mostly the latest up-to-date tech. This in mind, they may have to change up this gauge cluster when introducing digital instruments. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

During my weeklong test I made a point of topping up the battery whenever possible, outside of a local McDonalds when grabbing a cappuccino with a friend, at the mall when available, and once at Ikea, plus of course overnight. Still, the novelty quickly wore off as it quickly de-juiced and I was left running on hybrid power. Of course, this is no bad thing, thanks to 8.4 L/100km in the city, 8.8 on the highway and 8.6 combined. If able to plug it in for much of your driving, Transport Canada gives this 2019 version an equivalent rating of 3.6 L/100km combined city/highway.

At least as important for any Mini, the Countryman S E ALL4 is fun to drive. I can’t think of many hybrid SUVs that include a manual mode shifter, let alone a Sport mode (that actually does something), but flick the slider at the base of the gearbox to the left and this plug-in scoots away from standstill with plenty of gusto, taking just over 7 seconds to hit 100km/h thanks to 221 net horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque (the electric motor good for an immediate 122 lb-ft of torque on its own), and while it can’t quite manage the 301-horsepower JCW Countryman’s levels of get-up-and go, the sportiest Mini SUV doing the deed in just over 6 seconds, this 1,791-kilo (3,948-pound) utility still feels enthusiastic about getting you where you’re going.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The Countryman S E ALL4 provides an excellent infotainment system with plenty of useful functions. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The Countryman S E ALL4 manages curves with the same level of spunk, turning in aggressively and tracking brilliantly. Again, it’s not as rigid as the JCW, but on the positive its ride is more comfortable, which probably matters more to most compact luxury SUV buyers. Likewise, the S E ALL4 is a joy on the highway, providing good stability at high speeds and easily capable of managing unexpected crosswinds, my tester’s thick 225/50R18 rubber maintaining a good contact patch with the pavement below.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
Details like this set of toggle switches on the centre stack, the yellow one for starting and shutting off the engine, are fabulous. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

A comfortable driver’s seat made longer stints more bearable too, my test model’s sporting excellent inherent support for the lower back and thighs, the former benefiting from four-way lumbar support and the latter from a manually extendable lower cushion. Roominess is good too, whether in front or back, with the rear seats spacious enough for large adults as long as the middle position remains unoccupied. A wide armrest folds down from centre, incorporating the usual dual cupholders, while ventilation is provided from the backside of the front console. A classic 12-volt charger made me wonder when Mini plans to add USB ports as well, while this particularly trim didn’t include rear seat warmers, but the large powered panoramic sunroof overhead made the Countryman’s compact dimensions seem larger, more open and airy.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
These seats are superb, complete with four-way lumbar and extendable lower cushions. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

The dealmaker for me, and my fairly active outdoor lifestyle, is the Countryman’s cargo compartment. I’ve read/heard some critics complain that the Countryman doesn’t offer enough cargo space, but newsflash friends, it’s a Mini. If you want something roomier (and this is really big for a Mini), buy a BMW X1, X3, X5, X7, or something else. On the positive, the S E ALL4 loses nothing to the conventionally powered Countryman’s cargo capacity thanks to 487 litres (17.2 cubic feet) of available space with the rear seats upright and 1,342 litres (47.4 cu ft) when they’re both lowered.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
This is how a sunroof should be done, the Countryman’s panoramic roof capable of being powered open for fresh air too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Even better, this electrified Mini continues to use the industry’s most practical 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback configuration, which is especially important for smaller utilities that can’t carry longer items inside, such as ski, watersports or hockey gear, without forcing one of the window seat passengers onto the less comfortable centre bump. The quality of the folding mechanism will impress as well, while the Countryman’s cargo compartment is also finished nicely, helping to make its premium argument clear.

Yes, some don’t consider Mini to be a premium brand, while others automatically relegate it within the ranks of its parent, BMW, as well as the other luxury nameplates noted earlier in this review. While BMW purposely places the Mini brand below its namesake marque, the Countryman’s price range of $31,090 to $44,390, the latter for this top-line S E ALL4, puts it well above mainstream volume branded subcompact SUVs that range in price from about $18,000 to the mid-$30,000s when fully optioned out. Add options to the Countryman S E ALL4, such as the aforementioned sunroof, LED cornering headlamps and fogs, a head-up display, navigation, real-time traffic info, Harman/Kardon audio, a wireless device charger, etcetera, and that price goes even further into premium territory, in fact topping $50k (see pricing for trims, packages and options at CarCostCanada, plus get money saving manufacturer rebate info, deals on financing, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands). 

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The Countryman’s rear seating area is spacious and comfortable too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It’s not like the base S E ALL4 is poorly equipped either, thanks to 18-inch alloys on run-flat tires, puddle lights, keyless toggle switch start/stop, a nice sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel, heavily bolstered sport seats with leatherette upholstery, dynamic cruise control, park distance control, dual-zone auto climate control, a large centre touchscreen with high definition and superb graphics, and much more.

2019 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4
The Countryman provides reasonably good cargo space, but its best feature is a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

All of these features come in a cabin that’s finished to premium levels too, at least for its compact luxury SUV class, which means that fabric wrapped roof pillars join ample soft-touch synthetic surfaces, while most of the switchgear is high in quality too, not to mention wonderfully retro with respect to the chromed toggle switches on the centre stack and overhead console.

In the end, the Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4 is every bit the modern-day Mini the British brand’s ardent followers have grown to love, delivering impressive luxury, plenty of premium features, good space utilization, and oodles of on-road enjoyment, yet it now packs in the ability to drive emissions-free for short durations, access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for potentially shorter commutes, and better than average fuel economy whether you plug it in or not. It doesn’t come cheaply, but there’s always a price to pay for leading edge technology, and those that truly want it are willing to pay.

Mini is one of those brands that I almost completely forget exists until one of their cars is parked in my driveway, and then all of a sudden I can’t get any work done because I’m thinking about little…

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible Road Test

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The sharp looking 2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible is a barrel of laughs at speed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Mini is one of those brands that I almost completely forget exists until one of their cars is parked in my driveway, and then all of a sudden I can’t get any work done because I’m thinking about little else. It’s not really a brand. Mini is a driving obsession… literally. 

Fortunately I don’t get many Minis each year, or I’d get nothing done. Truly, their cars are so much fun they’re addictive, especially when the one loaned out is tuned to “S” trim and its roof has been chopped off to make way for a power-retractable soft top. 

The car before you is the 2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible, upgraded with this year’s special $2,900 Starlight Blue Edition Package. This means it gets an exclusive and eye-arresting coat of Starlight Blue Metallic paint, plus a unique set of 17-inch machine-finished Rail Spoke alloy wheels with black painted pockets on 205/45 all-season runflat tires, and piano Black Line exterior trim replacing much of the chrome, including the grille surround and the headlamp/taillight surrounds, plus the side mirror caps. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Short and stubby, but the Mini Convertible is nevertheless roomy compared to its compact drop-top rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The improvements continue with rain-sensing auto on/off LED headlamps boasting dynamic cornering capability, plus LED fog lights, piano black lacquered interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, a really accurate Connected Navigation Plus system within the already excellent infotainment system, great sounding Harman Kardon audio, satellite radio, attractive Carbon Black leatherette upholstery, and heatable front seats, while my tester’s only standalone option was its $1,400 automatic transmission, all of which brings the Mini Cooper S Convertible base price of $33,990 up to $38,290, plus of course freight and fees. 

To clarify, you can get into a new 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible for as little as $29,640, or you can spend the just noted higher price for my test model’s “S” trim. Then again, you can also acquire a base 3-Door hardtop for as little as $23,090. Of note, the Mini 5-Door starts at $24,390, a six-door Clubman can be had for $28,690, and the Countryman crossover starts at $31,090, again plus a destination charge and other fees. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Classic Mini lines still look great. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All 2019 Mini Cooper prices, including trims, options and standalone features, were sourced from CarCostCanada, where you can also get otherwise hard to find manufacturer rebate info as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

Before delving into all the fun I teased at the beginning of this review, I’ve got to mention how well made Mini models are. Whether or not you’re willing to call Mini a premium brand, and it’s difficult to do so when you can get into one for just over $23k, the level of quality going into each and every Mini model is way above par, unless of course we’re comparing one to a premium subcompact or compact competitor. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The Starlight Blue Edition Package gets exclusive metallic paint, special 17-inch Rail Spoke alloys, and plenty of piano Black Line exterior trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This said, mainstream compact models have been improving in recent years, with the new Mazda3 a real standout, but like its compact sedan and hatchback rivals the 3 is significantly larger than all Minis but the Clubman and Countryman, and when comparing a regular Cooper to any mainstream subcompact rival, its build quality and drivability stands heads and shoulders higher. 

This little Cooper S Convertible, for instance, is extremely well put together, from its exterior fit to its interior finishings. The paintwork is superb and detailing fabulous, from my tester’s intricately designed LED headlights and Union Jack-imprinted taillights to its high-quality leather-wrapped steering wheel and stitched leather shift knob, not to mention the pod of primary instruments hovering over the steering column, the ever-changing ring of colour encircling the high-definition 8.8-inch infotainment display, the row of dazzling chromed toggles (and red ignition switch) on the centre stack, and the similar set of switches on the overhead console, these latter two eccentricities happily gracing every Mini model. If you’re into retrospective design and wonderful attention to detail, even to an artistic level, you’re going to love a modern-day Mini. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Love these Union Jack infused LED taillights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As good as all of this is, I need to go back to that one Mini attribute that’s probably most agreeable, its on-road character. In S trim it starts with a wonderfully high-revving 16-valve twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, which is a considerable 55 horsepower and 45 lb-ft more than the entry-level Mini’s three-cylinder turbo mill. This helps the S shave 1.6 seconds from the base car’s zero to 100km/h sprint time, reducing it from 8.8 seconds to 7.2 in six-speed manual form, or 8.7 to 7.1 with its as-tested six-speed automatic. 

If you still need more speed, you can opt for a John Cooper Works (JCW) Convertible, which drops the sprint time down to 6.5 seconds via a more potent 228 horsepower version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, featuring a sizeable 236 lb-ft of torque. That will set you back a cool $41,490, but thanks to suspension upgrades including larger rims and rubber, plus additional styling and convenience features, it’s well worth it for Mini performance purists. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Mini interiors match premium levels of refinement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I know, that’s not the type of fire-breathing performance to cause Honda Civic Type R owners to quake in their snug fitting Recaro race seats, but drop the top and clutch of the JCW or Cooper S Convertible consecutively and you’ll soon be having more fun than the numbers suggest, not to mention very livable fuel-efficiency thanks to a claimed 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.4 on the highway and 9.0 combined with the manual, or 9.4 city, 7.2 highway and 8.4 combined with the as-tested autobox in upgraded S trim. If economy matters more to you than performance, the base Cooper Convertible is good for an 8.4 city, 6.3 highway and 7.5 combined rating with the manual, or 8.8, 6.8 and 7.9 with its auto. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The pod-like primary gauges are pretty unique. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Along with the power upgrade, the move from base to Cooper S trim also means that some performance-oriented features get added, such as selectable driving modes that include default “MID”, eco “GREEN” and self-explained “SPORT”, the latter for enhanced acceleration and steering response, plus Mini improves the front seats to a more heavily bolstered sport design with heatable cushions, while hardtop versions get a panoramic sunroof, just in case going totally topless isn’t your thing. 

Sport mode does a good job of upping the Cooper S Convertible’s straight-line acceleration and improving the quick-shifting experience thereof, while torque never overpowers the front wheels, even when taking off from a corner. While I’d prefer the manual with this little wonder—a gearbox that I really enjoying rowing from cog to cog—the automatic performs well with just-noted speedy gear swapping increments and shift lever-actuated manual mode. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Mini benefits from a BMW-quality infotainment interfaces. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Oddly there are no steering wheel mounted paddles, however (Mini will be adding paddle-shifters to a new eight-speed automatic in the Clubman and Countryman JCWs next year, with a reported 301-hp and 331 lb-ft of torque plus AWD, so hopefully we’ll eventually see them in the S as well), so I left the autobox to its own devices more often than not, being that it shifts smoothly and was therefore ideal for congested city streets. Still, when the road opened up and consecutive curves arrived I found manual mode significantly increased the fun factor, while helping to increase control. 

As with all Mini models, the Cooper S Convertible seen here gets a fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension system that’s capable of out-manoeuvring most front-drive challengers (previously noted Civic Type R exempted), whether taking it to the streets of a busy metropolitan area, or flinging it through the types of undulating, spiraling twists and turns performance fans love as if it’s some sort of front-wheel drive BMW. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Mini switchgear is high in quality and really cool in a retro way. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It is, of course. Most that follow the auto industry already know that the latest second-gen Minis share their UKL platform architectures with a handful of today’s smaller BMW models. In actual fact, UKL underpinnings are divided between UKL1 and UKL2 platforms, the first only used for the Mini brand so far, including its 3- and 5-door (F56) Hatch plus the Cooper Convertible line (F57), while the second architecture is used for bigger Minis including the Clubman (F54) and Countryman (F60) as well as the global-market BMW 1 Series Sedan (F52), 1 Series 5-door hatchback (F40), 2 Series Active Tourer (F45) MPV-style hatchback, slightly longer 2 Series Gran Tourer (F46), X1 (F48) crossover, sportier X2 (F39) crossover, and the Brilliance-BMW Zinoro (60H), a re-skinned Chinese-market crossover SUV based on the X1. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Any shifting needs to be done via gear lever, while the dial just behind is for the infotainment system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Being that we don’t have the 1 Series or 2 Series Active Tourer models in Canada, and I haven’t yet been able to get behind the wheel of these in my second home of Manila, Philippines, I can’t comment on the driving dynamics of these BMW models compared to their Mini counterparts, but I can’t see them being much better than anything wearing the winged badge. I can say, however, that all Countryman S models tested so far (including the new Countryman S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid) have been more capable at the limit than the current-gen BMW X1 xDrive28i I recently tested. 

Of course, the Cooper S Convertible is hardly large, its interior smallest within the Mini lineup, especially in back where its seats are best left to abbreviated adults and/or kids, not to mention the trunk that measures just 160 to 215 litres (the larger number if the top is upright and movable divider positioned higher) and can only be accessed via a narrow opening, albeit aided by a cool wagon-like fold-down tailgate that holds items before loading in, plus expandability for longer gear such as skis/snowboards via 50/50-split rear seatbacks. Small yes, but pretty flexible for passengers and cargo when compared to most drop-top challengers. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The Cooper S gets these supportive sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Speaking of the convertible top, its “3-in-1” fabric roof design is ultra-quiet and quick to retract or put up via full automation in just 18 seconds, only requiring a tug or push (and hold) on one of the aforementioned overhead toggle switches. It first opens into a large sunroof, which can be left that way if you don’t want to go completely al fresco, or with a second push completely folds down. Repeating the process in reverse closes the top. You can open or close while driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h, so you never have to worry about not having enough time at the stoplight to start the process. You can also put the top up or down via your key fob. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Rear seat roominess is limited, but better than having no back seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Unlike some of the other models in the Mini lineup (like the Clubman S or JCW that could arguably go up against other sport compacts like the VW GTI), this Cooper S Convertible really doesn’t have many direct competitors. Certainly some might choose a Mazda MX-5 or its Fiat 124 Spider variant over this British-German entry, both being sporty yet affordable options, a description that also includes Ford’s Mustang Convertible and Chevy’s Camaro Convertible, but the first pairing are two-seat roadsters and latter duo much larger, heavier vehicles rooted in American muscle car heritage, and therefore wholly different than the wee Mini. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The smallish trunk benefits from a tailgate to help with loading, plus 50/50 split-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Therefore, only the VW Beetle Convertible and Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio are true rivals, but the Beetle is not as sporty (only making 174 hp) and due to slow sales (2,077 in both coupe and convertible body styles last year) and an aging architecture has been cancelled for 2020, whereas the Italian offering is fun to drive due to its great exhaust note and lightweight city car size (it only has 160 hp, but doesn’t need more), but it takes the word “slow” to new levels when sales are factored in (269 units for all 500 trims last year, excluding the 500X), making me wonder just how long the entire Fiat brand will be sustainable in Canada or the U.S. at all (there were only 5,370 unit sales of the 500 line in the U.S. through 2018, not including the 500L or 500X). 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Top up or down, the Cooper S Convertible looks great. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

By comparison, the Mini Cooper line (made up of the 3-Door Hatch, 5-Door Hatch, Convertible and Clubman) sold 4,466 units in Canada and 26,119 in the U.S. These numbers are by no means large (VW Golf/Jetta/GTI sold 36,606 units in Canada and 133,065 in the U.S., while the Honda Civic sold 69,005 units in Canada and 325,760 in the U.S.), but they’re definitely higher than Fiat’s. Mini, a brand filled with models that should allow for good profits once options are added on, backed by the much more powerful BMW group that now utilizes the same platform architectures and engines throughout its global small car/crossover lineup, should be able to weather any future financial storms just fine (fingers crossed). 

So there you have it, a fabulous four-seat convertible with reasonable cargo capacity, premium levels of build quality, very good infotainment, great economy, and brilliantly fun performance, not to mention a certain classic retrospective British coolness, all for a pretty decent price when factoring in all the positives. For those who want to enjoy each and every moment behind the wheel, it’s hard not to recommend the Mini Cooper S Convertible.

We don’t get many Minis each year, but when we do it’s always a fun week. Especially if that Mini is tuned to “S” trim and its roof is chopped to make way for a retractable soft top.  In our…

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Great looking colour right? Starlight Blue is new for 2019, and it’s exclusive to the Starlight Blue Edition Package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

We don’t get many Minis each year, but when we do it’s always a fun week. Especially if that Mini is tuned to “S” trim and its roof is chopped to make way for a retractable soft top. 

In our garage this week is the 2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible, trimmed out with this year’s special Starlight Blue Edition Package. That means it gets an exclusive and eye-arresting coat of Starlight Blue Metallic paint, unique 17-inch machine-finished Rail Spoke alloy wheels with black painted pockets on 205/45 all-season runflat tires, and Black Line piano black exterior trim replacing much of the chrome, including the grille surround and the headlamp/taillight surrounds, while the side mirror caps are finished in glossy black too. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Mini updated the Cooper line for 2015 and adapted its new platform architecture to the Convertible for 2016, and while larger and roomier it’s still the same fun-loving Cooper that it’s always been. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The upgrade continues with rain-sensing auto on/off LED headlamps featuring dynamic cornering capability, LED fog lights, piano black lacquered interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, Connected Navigation Plus within the infotainment system, Harman Kardon audio, satellite radio, Carbon Black leatherette upholstery, and heatable front seats, while my tester’s only standalone option is its $2,900 automatic transmission, all of which brings the base price of $33,990 up to $38,290, plus freight and fees. 

Just to be clear, you can get into a new 2019 Mini Cooper Convertible for as little as $29,640 plus freight and fees, the higher price just noted due being to my test model’s aforementioned “S” trim. You can actually get into the base 3-Door hardtop for as little as $23,090, while the Mini 5-Door starts at $24,390 and six-door Clubman hits the road for $28,690. There are other Mini models available, but for now I’ll leave it to the car lineup and point you to CarCostCanada for detailed pricing info on every new vehicle available, including otherwise hard to find dealer invoice pricing and manufacturer rebate information that could save you thousands. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
Blackened trim, LED headlights and special 17-inch alloy wheels come as part of the Starlight Blue Edition Package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Something else you should be aware of is the premium level of quality that goes into each and every Mini model. This little Cooper S Convertible is extremely well put together, from its exterior fit to its interior finishings. The paintwork is superb and detailing fabulous, from my tester’s intricately designed LED headlamps and Union Jack imprinted taillights to its high-quality leather-wrapped steering wheel and stitched leather shift knob, not to mention the pod of primary instruments hovering over the steering column, the ever-changing ring of colour encircling the high-definition 8.8-inch infotainment display, the row of dazzling chromed toggles (and red ignition switch) on the centre stack and similar set of switches on the overhead console, these latter two eccentricities happily gracing every Mini model. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
We love these Union Jack taillights! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I could go on, but rather than turn this simple “Garage” overview into a full road test, which will be coming shortly, know that one of Mini’s most agreeable attributes is on-road character. Again, we won’t even tease our experiential notes, which aren’t even completed being that we’ve only spent a couple of days with the car, but instead fill you with some nuts and bolts details such as 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque from the 16-valve twin scroll turbocharge 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, a spirited 7.2 seconds from standstill to 100km/h with the six-speed manual or an even quicker 7.1 seconds with the as-tested six-speed automatic, an independent front strut and multi-link rear suspension, and so much more. 

2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible
These heated sport seats come as part of the Cooper S upgrade. Check the gallery for more photos… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The upgrade to Cooper S trim means that a host of performance-oriented features get added, including selectable driving modes including default “MID”, “GREEN” and “SPORT” for enhanced acceleration and steering response, more heavily bolstered heated sport seats, a panoramic sunroof, and more. 

There’s a lot more to the 2019 Mini Cooper S Convertible than I’ll go into here in this Garage review, including how all of these features work, the quality of workmanship inside and out, how the top operates and seals off the outside world, plus of course the way it drives. So make sure to come back to TheCarMagazine for the full review soon…

You can buy a two-seat roadster if you want, but Mini’s Convertible gives you the option of taking a couple of smallish friends or family along for your sun-filled drive, plus its recent redesign means…

2017 Mini Cooper S Convertible Road Test

It's getting to be the time of year when we can expect sunshine to reign down on us more often than not, or at least most are hoping to see less rain as we near the mid-point of spring. Such thoughts cause some of us to dream of open-top motoring in a new convertible, and few carmakers offer as much sun-worshipping fun for as little cost as Mini.

Good news for entry-level cabrio fans came last year when Mini upgraded their diminutive Convertible to its third-generation design, and with the move it grew in size, comfort, and performance while adopting the new BMW UKL1 architecture. This is the same design that arrived as the Mini Hardtop for 2014, which was renamed 3 Door due to the introduction of the funky 2017 5 Door, and was expanded to include the new six-door Clubman last year; this new Mini Convertible completing the brand-wide transformation. To be clear, the Clubman uses a modified UKL1 platform appropriately dubbed UKL2, which also supports the Countryman subcompact SUV Read Full Story
Mini has already added a 5-door hatch and an SUV to its 3-door hatch lineup, so what could possibly be next? How about a really long 6-door wagon that stretches the Mini concept to new maxi lengths? Meet…

2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman Road Test Review

The Mini brand has long been grounded in a less is more philosophy, so simply living with one means you're taking up less space in the world, in a car that consumed fewer materials in its production, goes through much less fuel than the majority of four-wheeled conveyances and concurrently spews fewer toxic emissions from its exhaust, but of course there's more to the iconic British brand than that. Mini is also about having fun while you're saving the planet, two concepts that rarely coexist.

The new Clubman is different, mind you, in that it embodies a more is more outlook. More size, more space, more Mini, if that makes any sense. All said, before we go thinking that Mini has become too big for its britches let's put our reality glasses on and consider how the largest Mini ever fits into the small car market of today. As is immediately evident the Clubman is long, more than 25 centimeters (almost 10 inches) longer than the already lengthened 5 door hatch, which is based on Read Full Story