Last year, Mini moved its convertible Cooper onto the same platform that debuted as the iconic three-door model in 2014 and launched the first five-door Mini hatchback model in 2015.
For 2017, the Mini convertible adds a performance-oriented John Cooper Works (JCW) variant, but is otherwise fundamentally unchanged.
While the Mini Cooper hatchback competes with a wide range of other small, sporty cars, the cabrio plays in a smaller sandbox where it goes up against the Mazda MX-5.
Fun features include a timer that tracks how much time you've spent with the top down, and there's an app that warns if rain is in the forecast. Base and S models come with 16-inch wheels, and JCW gets 17s, but there is a wide range of options for alternate wheel styles and sizes for all three variants.
Like the Cooper hatch, the convertible starts in Cooper trim with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Cooper S models get a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder good for 189 hp ad 207 lb-ft, and the JCW variant gets a more potent version of the 2.0L that makes 228 hp and 236 lb-ft. All three motors come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and can be optioned with a six-speed automatic.
Fuel consumption estimates range from 8.5/6.3 L/100 km (city/highway) with the three-cylinder and manual transmission, to 10.8/7.7 with the JCW 2.0L and stickshift.
Pricing starts at $28,490 for the Cooper model, $32,740 in Cooper S form and $40,240 for the JCW convertible. While the Cooper's focus is on a fun drive, it can be optioned with a number of upscale features, like leather seating (in at least a half-dozen styles and colours), LED headlights, heated windshield and passive keyless entry.
The Mini covertible remains one of the most entertaining drop tops you can buy, though this latest generation is more grown up than its predecessor. That's a natural progression: the turbo motor's torque and tall gearing make it better suited to saving fuel than going quickly; the Mazda MX-5 is more engaging to drive with an engine happier to rev and closely-spaced gear ratios.
But there's no arguing with the good times potential of the S and JCW models, whose turbo 2.0L makes big power from low revs, making power-on understeer the only thing you've got to watch for when putting your right foot down.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed