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New generation Mini Cooper S Convertible retains style, fun

With a dearth of four-seater convertibles, it is very fortunate that the Mini not only looks good, but offers a fun driving experience.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Two years after the launch of the Mini's latest platform for its hardtop, the convertible version hits the streets in Cooper and Cooper S trim.

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The Mini Cooper S Convertible remains a front-wheel-drive car with a power-folding cloth top, and one of the few four-seat convertibles you can find.

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With an extra five inches of length over previous generations, the new Mini Convertible feels less go-karty and more grown-up.

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With its Sport package, the Cooper S Convertible gets dynamic dampers, keeping the car more stable in hard cornering.

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Under the hood, the Cooper S Convertible features a 2-liter engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger, pushing out 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque and designed to minimize turbo-lag.

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A six speed manual transmission comes standard, with an option for six speed automatic.

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Although not a strong sports car, the Mini Cooper S Convertible remains fun to drive, especially with the tremendous upward view offered by the convertible top.

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This top does compromise sight lines, creating a big blind spot when up and cutting off the lower half of the rear view when down.

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This Cooper S Convertible comes with LED headlights that point into turns.

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The Cooper S Convertible prices out at $4,000 more than the Cooper Convertible, and although the S model offers much more power, the standard Cooper Convertible should satisfy most buyers.

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Pack light, as the Cooper S Convertible only has 5.7 cubic feet of storage with the top down, 7.6 cubic feet with the top up.

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The Mini's interior looks very nice with the Premium package and Satellite Grey interior.

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The rear seats are compact, but usable.

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The Mini calls this dashboard trim Dark Cottonwood.

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The big, round frame in the center of the dashboard used to house a speedometer, but that has migrated to the driver instrument cluster.

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Swoopy styling gives the door interiors a unique look.

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The Harman Kardon audio option is worthwhile for music lovers.

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The steering stiffens up with the car's Sport mode.

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You can choose Green or Sport modes with a switch at the bottom of the shift lever.

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This dial and button setup controls the infotainment system.

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