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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
tremendously fun to drive
The 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible has perky acceleration with its optional supercharged engine, but great handling is universal to all versions of the new ragtop.
Reviews from across the Web noted the “fun to drive” qualities of the 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible. It doesn’t necessarily start with the base 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which provides 115 hp and 111 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a continuously variable transmission is optional. Motor Trend writes that MINI “publishes a 0-to-62-mph time of 'a mere 9.8 seconds,' redefining ‘mere.’ It struggles most at the lower and upper ends, with some progress in the midrange.” Other sources noted the CVT drains even more energy from the four-cylinder; most recommend the five-speed manual.
The 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible also comes in an “S” version that makes 168 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque. In the Convertible Cooper, MINI offers a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Order this version, Edmund says, and you'll be “rewarded with substantially improved gusto. A 7.7-second 0-60 time and a 15.69-second quarter mean this Mini has no problem scurrying away from SUVs and minivans that threaten to trap it in traffic.” Power improves as the engine speed rises, they add.
Fuel economy is an impressive 23/32 mpg on the base 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible, and 21/29 mpg in the S version.
The 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible is a “kick in the pants to drive,” says Cars.com, and one of the best-handling cars in its class, according to the reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com. The suspension is engineered more like one from “rear-drive performance cars,” Edmunds says, and that makes it “responsive, predictable and stable while driving aggressively.”
“Steering feel and feedback are top-notch,” Edmunds adds, while Motor Trend thinks that with the Convertible Cooper, MINI’s “ragtop is as much of a go-kart as the tintop, heading where you point it with lightning quick, precise steering.” Cars.com chimes in with its description of “heavy but precise and communicative steering. Because of the car's darty nature, peppy engine and small size, I find it difficult not to drive it like an ass.”
Ride quality, however, is a major concern in the 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible. “It's as firm as ever,” Car and Driver says, “with a stiff suspension and unforgiving run-flat tires.”
The 2008 MINI Cooper Convertible handles with flair, and S versions scoot with the best—but the ride’s harsh on occasion.