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Mini One Convertible 2010 road test report

2010

The UK sales success of the Mini Convertible can comfortably be ascribed to the twin affections of the carbuying public for open-topped cars and the iconic little British motor. The second-generation Convertible went on sale in mid-2009 with Cooper, Cooper S and hot John Cooper Works versions. Now a new entry-level variant has been added to the line-up, the One Convertible, which will make the canvas-roofed car available for less that £15,000, opening it out to a more budget-conscious clientele. Does the lower price mean less of the Mini-ness that we all know and love, though?

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Mini One Convertible

Image number 2 of the Mini One ConvertibleImage number 3 of the Mini One Convertible

Performance Performance - 3 stars

The Mini One Convertible is powered by a new 1.6-litre Valvetronic engine that will be fitted in most of the model range. In the One, the engine is tuned to produce 97bhp and 113lb-ft of torque, which helps it to achieve 0-62mph acceleration in 11.3 seconds and max out at 112mph. This state of tune means that it’s not exactly the quickest little thing: drive it back-to-back with the Cooper S and it feels positively sluggish. However, that’s not really the point of this variant, as the One is a car for enjoying the Mini’s qualities on a budget, so speed is one quality that can’t justifiably be expected. Yet the One Convertible is a perfectly adequate little machine and, with a little practice and the ability to keep the revs up, you can hustle it around to good effect. It also cruises well, especially if you use it in a relaxed manner on country roads, which is the perfect environment to enjoy the character of the car.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

As with any Mini, handling is the department in which the One Convertible absolutely excels, retaining the much-admired go-kart-like qualities so often associated with the Mini. The steering is pointy and precise, enabling the driver to have complete confidence in the direction the car is taking. It’s also agile and blessed with plenty of grip, so it’s completely at home driving over on twisty B-roads that feature plenty of bends and corners. The Convertible also has a compliant ride that is in keeping with its character as a fun, open-topped cruiser. The standard wheels are 15-inchers, but our test car was fitted with 16-inch versions clad in run-flat tyres, which have previously contributed to an element of harshness. However, tyre technology has improved to the degree that this is no longer an issue and the One Convertible was adept at dealing with speed humps and imperfections in the road surface.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The One Convertible feels as robust and well built as every other model in the Mini family line-up, with a pleasing solidity to the car. The roof mechanism for the canvas drop-top also seems to be well put-together, working smoothly and quietly to stow the hood in 15 seconds (and up to a speed of 20mph, so you can do it on the move). Mini has earned a good reputation as a manufacturer of reliable cars, taking eighth place in the latest JD Power survey of manufacturers and with the Mini itself taking 30th place (out of 100) in the league table of models. The features we’re not to keen on in this car, in common with the rest of the range, are the switchgear and the aperture for the CD player in the centre stack. Made out of grey plastic that undermines the high-quality feel of the upholstery and trim, the switches and dials look cheap, undermining Mini’s brand values and the stylish design of the car itself.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The latest generation of the Mini has already been crash-tested by EuroNCAP and been awarded five stars for adult occupant protection, three stars for child protection and two stars for pedestrian impact – ratings that are at the upper end of the spectrum for new cars. There are all the active and passive safety measures you’d expect from a modern car built to BMW’s exacting standards. In addition to four airbags, three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and Isofix child seat anchor points, there’s a wide range of electronic aids such as Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution, a tyre pressure warning system, park distance control, crash sensor, corner braking control and rollover bars behind the rear seats that pop up automatically in 150 milliseconds in the event of the car rolling over. In terms of security, there’s a Category 1 alarm and central locking that activates remotely and automatically above 10mph.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

In the front, the manual seat adjustments are practical and easy to use, and the steering wheel (plus the large dial containing the rev counter and information display) adjusts for both reach and rake. A good driving position is therefore attainable for pretty much anyone, irrespective of their shape or size. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the back. The rear seats are little more than extra storage space, especially if you fit the optional wind deflector (£185) with the roof down, which essentially turns the Mini Convertible into a two-seater. And even if you accept a bit of windy buffeting, there’s just not enough legroom for adults in the back – in fact, even small children can find space in short supply. There’s also a rear visibility issue with the roof down, the folded canvas hood sometimes proving difficult to see over, even for drivers of average height. Bootspace on the current generation has increased by five litres to 125 litres with the roof down and 170 litres with the roof up. The aperture of the boot has also increased slightly to allow bigger loads and, if you lower the back seats, there’s a fairly decent 660 litres of space. Bike rack preparation comes as standard, so owners can also fix multi-function carriers for bikes, surfboards, etc.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

The One Convertible is all about the open-top Mini experience on a budget, so the on-the-road price of £14,985 is welcome. It’s still a fair chunk of change, though. Low running costs are kept relatively low thanks to BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology, so stop/start, brake regeneration and an indicator in the instrument panel that tells you the optimum time to change gear are all fitted as standard. These measures mean that official fuel consumption is just 49.6mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions have been cut to 133g/km, meaning vehicle excise duty of just £110 per year. Servicing costs are also very low if owners sign up for the TLC Service Pack, which costs just £200 for the first five years/50,000 miles, with another £370 for an additional three years/30,00 miles. That means owners can get service cover for eight years/80,000 miles for £570, which is an incredibly good deal. Residuals are also strong, thanks to the desirability of convertible Minis, so expect the One Convertible to retain around 54-57% of its value after three years.

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