The 2010 MINI Cooper/Convertible returns for the latest model year unchanged, and to enthusiasts that's perfectly fine. The MINI Cooper lineup brims with personality and a timeless flair, and in any version-hatchback or convertible, base or turbo or John Cooper Works-it's a delightful car to drive. With a base price of $19,500 for the Cooper hatchback, $23,000 for the Cooper S hatchback, $24,950 for the Cooper Convertible, and $27,850 for the Cooper S ragtop, it competes against the likes of the Volkswagen New Beetle and the Mazda Miata, making possible inroads with Ford Mustang shoppers.
For this year, or really since the hatchback was revamped in 2008, the MINI Cooper's styling hasn't changed much. And it doesn't need to-it's a picture-perfect homage to the original MINI, though it's grown considerably larger for the modern era, with its 15-inch wheels outsizing the original 10-inchers, and the higher front end couching all sorts of safety gear. It's a little kitschy-the smiling grille, the wide patches of chrome, the bug-eye headlamps-and utterly endearing. Convertibles lose the roofline that sets the MINI's wedgy stance, but the top design apes it closely, and a wide band of chrome at the shoulder line is a smart touch. Cooper S models get a slightly bulged hood to accommodate their turbochargers-and of course, all MINIs can be personalized with a dizzying array of paint colors, decals, fabrics, door and dash trim pieces, and body add-ons. Inside the MINI Cooper has a dash that's wild with circles, winged shapes, chromed switches, and a 160-mph speedometer sitting dead center, not in front of the driver. It's interesting to look at, but less enjoyable to actually use-at times, clever overkill, and that's before you add your own color and trim scheme to the fray.