Little Fun Around Town: Mini Cooper S Convertivble

A few days ago I had the opportunity to drive a 2012 Mini Cooper S Convertible, and not just drive, thanks Japanese parking and car sharing giant Times Co. Ltd I could have for a good 3 hours.

The Mini Cooper S came in nice "Iced Chocolate" brown metallic paint with two stripes on the hood surrounding the large hood scoop.

The S trim is known for the premium sports trim taking the compact Mini brand cars to the next level.  Power is increased to 184 horsepower, torque is impressive 260Nm thanks to turbocharged with overboost function 1.6 inline four engine.

Suspension is stiffened and optional 205/45R17 tires are fitted to give it sporty stance and improved handling.

I decided to take the highway and head to Yokohama for a cup of Hawaiian coffee and stop at famous Daikoku PA to take some photos of the car. Luckily, the congestion was very limited so I was able to enjoy the drive with the top down on this sunny September day. 

Usually, an advantage of having the roof tucked away means better visibility and feel of the car, however, the Mini folded roof was resting on top of the trunk instead of being inside and as a result was actually obstructing the rear view mirror, which is less than ideal when driving in the city.  

However the car felt firm and handled very well at highway speeds and around town.  Getting to Daikoku was a breeze and a lot of fun. It was a quiet day and I had plenty of time to look around and take photos of the car. 

The most distinctive feature of the S series is the stance and sports bumper with functional air vents.  The hood scoop, however is purely aesthetic.  

In the back it utilizes dual exhaust positioned in the center, which has a nice sound track in mid-range RPM. Down shifts are accompanied by distinctive sound track with nice burble on the over-run.

From the side the 17 inch wheels really stand out and give this car perfect stance and balance.  Surprisingly, ride quality is not compromised and is smooth and comfortable.

 The lights are HID with LED position and DRL's

This model also came with "Highgrade" package, which features aluminum trim on the dash, "Chromeline" interior option and comfortable heated leather seats. 
The moment you step inside it is obvious that his is not just some workhorse compact, it's a very refined and comfortable car.

There is also a back seat, but let's just call it symbolic.  There is zero leg room, it only exists to store whatever doesn't fit in the trunk, which is pretty much everything, because storage in the back is less than impressive. I am not disappointed in car's lack of practicality as it has a different purpose, and it is to entertain, to make driver feel good, comfortable and excited.

 There is plenty of attention to details such as this well done aluminum and leather trim on the dash,

and the sports multifunction leather steering wheel is just about right diameter and thickness, with gear shifting paddles for the six speed automatic transmission. I do wish, however, that they used a more conventional left - shift down, right - shift up, instead of push top to shift down and pull bottom to shift up method. 

This car also features a multifunction screen, which is very similar to BMW's i-drive, but lacks navigation, which is an option.

One significant omission in my view was the elbow rest, which I think is a must for any car this price range.  It available as option, but there is no excuse for not making it standard, especially in this trim.

Overall this car is a very nice place to be in as its interior trim not only surpasses all of the Japanese rivals, it is able to give some executive sedans on the market today the run for their money.

I was pleased with the Mini as it perfectly serves its purpose as a fun city or weekended getaway car. Good responsive handling, decent acceleration and classy comfortable interior make it a very capable vehicle.   

Mini Cooper S Convertible is available from Mini Japan starting at 3558000 yen. Highrade package is extra 300000 yen.
There are also enough options to make it more expensive than a sports trim 370z. What did I say about rivaling local premium cars?
Cost of Ownership:
This compact car has a 1.6 engine with decent fuel economy, which puts it in a tax bracket as low as... well,  a Subaru WRX Sti, or Mitsubishi Evo X.  Which are also priced at about the same level.  The Mini does however have exceptional fuel economy and maintenance should be at a lower cost.
It's not made to be practical and it's not trying to be, however every cubic centimeter of space is utilized efficiently making the cabin feel spacious and useful.
Cabin Comfort
For its class it has one of the best interior trims I have ever seen.  Ride quality is firm but excellent leather seats provide that extra cushion. Optional elbow rest is a must and I would have give it a 5 if this car was equipped with one.
It's a Mini, which doesn't really say much about the owner.  I personally do not favor this look, but it makes every effort to be stylish and modern while maintaining the classic look.
Fun Factor
It's a fun city convertible and it does do a great job being that. 




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