A Macho Cutie-Pie for About 30 Grand
It’s pathetic when I
start with the ‘cute’ talk. Most guys sound ridiculous when they do
‘cute’ or ‘baby’ talk. That’s when you add an Elmer Fudd-like accent
and a higher pitch to your words. Example: “Awww, wadda’ widdew baby!”
is popular, as is “Wadda’ cwet widdew, itty-biddy Mini!” Men do it
often, and if they deny it – they’re usually lying.
(Sigh) I’ve been doing that all week.
I had in my possession a 2009 Mini Cooper S Convertible. This is a
completely new vehicle from last year’s convertible Mini as that model
had 1st generation (post 2002) architecture and running gear. This new
Mini Cooper S Convertible is all new.
ANY Mini Cooper is cool in
my book. Even the slightly larger and slightly heavier Mini Clubman is
fantastic. Priced from 19 – 35K, every Mini model provides driving
excitement, fun and attitude that is nearly impossible to match.
Practical? Well – no, not really.
Here’s what you get when you get the Mini Cooper S Convertible: a
ballsy, 172 horsepower (177 lbs feet of torque), twin scroll,
turbocharged, 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine. Keep your foot in it and
torque is knocked up to a brief 192 lbs feet when the ‘over-boost’
function kicks in. 0 to 60 times were hard to calibrate accurately due
to un-even wheel spin. My best average time was 7.5 seconds flat with a
few runs in the high 6’s and others in the low 8’s. This was with the
6-speed, paddle shifting automatic transmission. ¼ mile times were just
under 16 seconds with the automatic – not too shabby.
The impressive brakes yielded 60 mph to 0 braking distances under 115 feet.
mpg city and 32 mpg highway are the automaker’s estimates. I’ve
averaged 20 mpg driving like a jackass. Still, on a long, smooth open
top highway trip (Denver to Fort Collins and back) – I averaged 35 mpg.
That’s better than many economy boxes. With a 13.2 gallon tank and
driving realistically, getting the automaker’s 422 miles per tank is
plausible (449 with the manual). At 2921 lbs (66 lbs lighter with the
manual) the Mini Cooper S Convertible is close to 300 lbs heavier than
the hardtop and feels it.
Convertibles need aggressive (read: heavy) reinforcement, an electric
top motor, fairly heavy duty soft top (which has a nifty sunroof
function) and chassis upgrades. All of this makes for a less sprightly
driving experience. I have to mention the noticeable cowl shake as I
could see everything in front of me dance ‘The Hustle’ every time I ran
over a road irregularity. Also, rear passenger comfort is nearly a
joke. My 5 year-old could barely fit behind my 5’6” wife (with
wifey-poo’s seat uncomfortably moved forward). At best, the back seats
are best utilized as golf bag receptacles (as the trunk can hold a
middle-school kid’s backpack and my briefcase – maybe).
once you get behind the wheel and get used to the childish controls,
practicality will be but a footnote in your prerequisites. When a car,
even with all of these faults has this much character and provides this
much smile per mile – you’ve got something special.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: N.D.