Used Mini Convertible
Introduced in 2004 the MINI Convertible was the first step in the diversification of the MINI line up into different niches. It came with 1.6-litre petrol engines ranging from 90 to 170 bhp and a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes.
When the rest of the MINI range received new engines in 2007 the Convertible was bypassed and it wasn't until the 2009 facelift that it received the new Peugeot-derived engine. This offers 120 bhp in the Cooper and 175 in the Cooper S. A 211 bhp John Cooper Works version also appeared in 2009 and a diesel was offered for the first time in the Convertible from 2010. The new, more powerful 2.0-litre SD diesel was added to the range in 2011.
Bang for your buck
First generation convertibles only came as ONE, Cooper and Cooper S variants all with the 1.6 petrol engine in various states of tune. Extra strengthening to add rigidity means it's heavier than the hatchback and this takes the edge off performance. The two stage electric top works well though, it's easy to operate and feels solid when in place.
Mark 2 versions have much more refined petrol engines and saw diesels added to the range for the first time. Again there's the two stage top that you can use in sunroof or fully convertible mode. The Mk 2 does away with the early car's fixed roll hoops and instead has a rollbar that deploys automatically in the event of an accident. Clever use of space gives the Mk 2 better luggage space too.
There's the usual plethora of options you'd expect from MINI and early cars were offered with Salt, Pepper and Chilli packs.
What you'll pay
An early 2004 used Mini Cooper Convertible should sell for around £4,000 and a 2005 MINI ONE with an option pack for about £5,000. Late Mk 1s can be up to £9,000 for a Cooper. Mk2 cars start from around £9,500 for an 09 plate Cooper. Expect to pay £11,000 for a MINI ONE on a 10 plate with Coopers commanding about £1,000 more. A 60 plate Cooper S will be about £14,000.
What to check
On Mk 1 cars the optional 17-inch wheels with runflat tyres are prone to punctures and the tyres are expensive to replace. Rear windows can shatter and require a complete new hood to replace. Listen carefully for gearbox noise as transmission failures can occur after three to five years.
Mk 2 cars were recalled in 2011 for attention to the oil filter and the oil seals on the timing chain tensioner. As with any convertible check the hood for rips and general wear and tear.
Major MINI parts can be expensive. Expect to pay around £200 for a clutch, £450 for a power steering pump and £80 for a front brake disc. Service parts are more reasonable, an air filter is around £20 an oil filter £12 and front brake pads £40.
How it drives
In Mk 1 form the MINI Convertible still offers the sharp handling of the hatchback but with slightly blunted performance thanks to its extra weight. The price you pay for that handling is a hard ride, especially on 17-inch alloys. Inside it's easy to find a good driving position though the Convertible doesn't have the central speedo and the instruments can be hard to see. The boot is small but you can fold the back seats down to accommodate big loads.
Mk 2 cars feel more solid, they weigh 30 kilos more and this again blunts performance in the petrol versions though diesels pull well. If you want real performance the John Cooper Works will get you to 62 mph in under 7 seconds. The Mini Convertible doesn't quite have the go-kart handling of the hatch but the steering is nicely weighted and there's plenty of grip. The ride is still firmer than some people will like though. All Mk 2s have a stop/start system that cuts the engine when you're stationary in traffic. Inside the cabin looks and feels good quality and the glovebox and rear seats lock should you want to park the car with the top down.
A MINI Convertible isn't exactly a practical car but that's not the point. It's a fun choice even if it lacks the ultimate dynamic edge of the hatchback versions. It's worth stretching to a Mk 2 car if you can as it's improved in all areas.