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2005 Mini Cooper and Cooper S Compact Convertible

Car Review of the 2005 Mini Cooper Compact Convertible

Base MSRP Range: $20,950 - $24,400

Base Invoice Range: Not Available

MSRP As Tested: Not Available

Versions: Cooper, Cooper S

Vehicle Category: Compact Convertible

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive.

Engine as Tested: 1.6-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 16-valves, I-4, 115-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 111 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm.

Optional Engine as Tested: ">Supercharged , 1.6-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 16-valves, I-4, 168-horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm.

Transmission As Tested: Cooper 5-speed Manual optional CVT, Cooper S 6-speed Manual .

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Cooper manual 27/35, CVT 26/33, Cooper S 25/32.

Standard Safety Features: Dual-level driver and passenger airbags, Side Curtain Airbags ">Antilock Brake System, electronic brake force distribution, Tire pressure monitor.

Competition: Volkswagen Beetle, PT Crusier.


What could possible be more fun than driving a Mini Cooper S on warm Fall day, on twisty roads by the shore of a lake. The answer is a driving the 2005 Mini Cooper S convertible, in the same place. The only possible improvement to the Mini Cooper S was the addition of a convertible top. Recently the Mini got this fantastic option, and if you get one, it will make you smile.

Due to the limited number of Mini Cooper convertibles available, and because it is the company's responsibility to make sure they are sold to people who will drive them with the tops down, Mini asks all owners to sign a special contract agreeing that you will leave the top down 90% of the time. Actually it's a just-for-fun contract. It goes on to list the reasons the contract has for allowing the owner to put the top up, in the closed position. They are:

  1. When motoring in rain under 25 miles per hour.
  2. When motoring through a car wash/or when having car washed manually.
  3. When parked outside for an unexpected/extended time period.
  4. When temperature drops below freezing point.
  5. After hair plug surgery.
  6. When within earshot of an outdoor banjo and/or kazoo concert.
  7. When driving through a biblical-size swarm of locusts.
  8. To avoid riotous teenage groupies.

The Mini Cooper convertible is delivered to its owner with the top down. There is a seal on it which reads, "Ask yourself, if it is really necessary to put the top up? Be honest." You have to break the seal in order to close the roof.

So, as you can see, the Mini Cooper convertible is not only a car and a lifestyle, but it is also your own, personal comedy show.

The convertible is only the second body style introduced for the New Mini since its introduction in the U.S. in 2002. The car has been a huge success, with sales exceeding the company's conservative projections -- we knew demand would be much higher. However the tactic of keeping output slightly below demand keeps the value of the Mini high, as well as the resale prices. They definitely hold their value.


The 2005 Mini Cooper convertible has the same muscular, British-bulldog look, and stance, as the coupe version. The face is instantly recognizable as the Mini.

There have been a few changes to the front of the vehicle. The headlights have been redesigned with new reflectors and bezel underneath the glass. Fog lamps have been added to the bumper. The grille has a new three-slat design.

The 2005 Mini Cooper S convertible gets everything mentioned above plus the addition of s body-colored grille, and bumpers. The hood still has the scoop which provides air to the intercooler for the supercharger.

Mini's trunk lid folds down like the cars from the 50s, with the hinges on the bottom. This makes it possible to access to the trunk when the roof is down. Though the trunk door folds down like a tailgate, don't sit on it. It can't hold more than 125 pounds.

The convertible roof is a fantastic bit of technology. It maintains the roof line of the coupe when closed. It has a glass window in the back, rather than the plastic ones that used to yellow so badly. The convertible top has two-stages of open: sunroof and fully open. The first provides a 15 3/4 inch sunroofesque opening over the front seats. It can be left open in this position at speeds of up to 75 mph. This is perfect when you want to let the day in, but you have lots of stops to make, and don't want to wait for the roof to close. But when you want big sun, the roof folds down completely in a little over 15 seconds.

The car has exposed roll bars which are built in behind the rear seats.


The Mini convertible has the same interior as the coupe. But there are a few, new options.

Mini's standard dash configuration has large speedometer in the middle of the cowl. The tachometer is on the steering column.

If the navigation system is ordered, then the display for it is put in the center of the dash and the speedometer is moved the steering column next to the tachometer. Mini offers a Chrono Gauge Package with analog readouts for the fuel level, coolant temperature, oil pressure, and temperature. This package moves the speedometer to the steering column.

For an extra touch of style, order the Chrome Line interior trim package. This adds chrome bezels around the gauges, air outlets, some of the dash switches, the parking brake handle, and the cup holders.

A second cup holder was added for 2005 as there was only one in the original version. It hangs on the passenger's side of the center stack. It takes up a lot of space, and we had to remove it for our drive.

There is an optional multifunction steering wheel with switches for the cruise control and radio.

The contoured sports seats, which are optional on the Mini Cooper, and standard on the S, are also standard on the convertible.

There is plenty of room in the Mini Cooper convertible for four adult passengers. It has always amazed us how Mini's engineers have been able to provide more seating space than many much larger cars.

There are eight upholstery fabric options for the Mini Cooper convertible, and seven for the Mini Cooper S convertible. There is a new water-resistant cloth interior, which is perfect for an open-top car. And, or course, leather seating surfaces are also available. All the materials used are high quality, just like what one finds in a BMW.

There are 10 exterior color options for the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible. These include two which are exclusive to the convertible: Hot Orange and Cool Blue. These are the colors we feature in the photos for this review.

The roof is fully automatic, and very fast. Touch a button and the sunroof opens, or closes, in just over 15 seconds. And, for convenience sake, the roof can also be controlled from the key fob.

Despite the size of the convertible top, Mini managed to maintain the car's carrying capacity. With the roof up there are 5.8 cubic feet of cargo space, and with the rear seats folded down there is 21.3 cubic feet for hauling your stuff. With the top down there are 4.2 cubic feet of cargo space.

The only serious problem in the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible is the extent to which the driver's view is obstructed by the closed roof -- the window is tiny -- and by the roll-bars behind the rear passenger seats.


Minis are a ton of fun to drive because they have great engines, are very light weight, and their suspensions are awesome. A wise person once said, "it is more fun to drive a slow car, fast than a fast car, slow." Minis are not big horsepower cars, but they are fast through turns, and that is what makes driving fun.

There are two engine options for the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible. The standard model comes with a 1.6-liter, inline, four-cylinder engine that generates 115 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 111 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. The Cooper S is supercharged and comes with an engine that generates 168-horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.

"You can never have too much horsepower, or to much brakes," we always say. So, we recommend that everyone buy the Cooper S. This version provides power for fun, and for getting away from trouble if something happens on the road. And the Cooper S has the performance to make you feel like you are out to win the Monte Carlo Rally.

Power is sent to the front wheels through one of three transmission options. Standard on the 2005 Mini Cooper Convertible is a 5-speed manual. Mini's Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) replaces the conventional automatic transmission. It is an option. The 2005 Mini Cooper S convertible is available only with 6-speed, manual gear-box.

The manual transmission shifts smoothly and precisely. It is one of the best available on any car. The CVT delivers the optimum power no matter what speed the engine is operating at. The only thing that could make the S better, would be if it were available with the Sequential Manual Gearbox(SMG) offered in BMW's M3.

Ride and Handling

Few cars are as thrilling to drive as the Mini, unless they cost tens of thousands of dollars more. With a convertible top, the Mini is even more fun to own and drive.

The tires on the Mini Cooper convertible are pushed to the very outer corners of the chassis. The car also has a very low center of gravity, making it a very stable platform. The electro-hydraulic, power-assisted steering is quick and precise. The Mini goes exactly where you aim it. Instead of being driven by a belt on the engine, Mini's steering system is operated by a small electric motor. The system produces power-assist only when the steering wheel is turned. This increases performance, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption. The car goes around corners like it is painted to the road.

Run-flat tires are optional on the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible, and standard on the S version. Run-flat tires provide a sense of security for the driver. With them, the car can be driven for up to 50 miles, at speeds nearing 90 mph. But because the tires' side walls are thicker than a normal tire (and a lot thicker than radials) to support the car's weight when a tire deflates, the ride of a car with run-flat tires is rougher. For some drivers run-flat tires provide too harsh a ride for daily use. In that case, opt for the regular tires, which have thinner sidewalls that act like springs allowing the car to float on a softer cushion.


Despite it's compact size, the Mini convertible is probably the safest car in the compact class. Mini draws on the expertise of it parent company, BMW. And BMW makes some of the safest cars on the road.

The Mini Cooper convertible's ultra-stiff chassis contributes to the car's great handling. It also helps the car take a hit in the event of a collision. The floor and side sills are reinforced. The doors have high-strength beams inside them. The B pillar has been lowered to further protect the occupants in the event of a collision. And there are chrome-finished roll-over bars behind the rear passengers.

Mini Cooper convertibles come standard with two front, and two side impact airbags protecting the driver and front passenger. An anti-lock braking system is standard as are brake force distribution, and cornering brake control. Dynamic Stability Control is optional.

A tire pressure monitoring system is standard on the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible.

In Conclusion

What a great car. The 2005 Mini Cooper convertible is great looking, great driving, and just great fun. Mini is more than just a car. It is truly a lifestyle -- something Mini obviously takes seriously, or they wouldn't put new owners under contract to leave their tops down.

Acceleration is excellent, and few cars take corners as well as a Mini. And, the car is lean on gasoline use.

Mini seems to be unduly worried about the gender split between female, and male, Mini owners. Mini claims that its U.S. owner base is 62 percent male, and 38 percent female. They anticipate roughly the same division for sales for the convertible. But that doesn't make sense as women are consistently the largest purchasers of convertble. It is likely that the Mini will be no different. And according to Art Spinella, Vice President of CNW Marketig, men represent just 51 percent of primary drivers of Mini cars in the United States.” He adds,” Many men buy Minis for their wives or daughters."

Many automakers and automotive industry pundits, not just Mini, maintain the unsubstantiated belief that men won't buy cars that they think gals are interested in. According to Todd Turner, president of Car Concepts, a consulting firm in Thousand Oaks, California, "If men see a lot of women driving a sports car, then it can't be a sports car, and they abandon it... It's Sexism 101. Men are particularly afraid to be associated with a chick car."

Many automakers and automotive industry pundits, not just Mini, maintain the unsubstantiated belief that men won't buy cars that they think gals are interested in. According to Todd Turner, president of Car Concepts, a consulting firm in Thousand Oaks, California, "If men see a lot of women driving a sports car, then it can't be a sports car, and they abandon it... It's Sexism 101. Men are particularly afraid to be associated with a chick car."

However there is no data to support this paranoia. And despite the belief of the automaker, it is unlikely that high female ownership of the Mini convertible will deter men from purchasing it as well. This is the best small convertible on the market. It doesn't matter who is driving it.

Pros: Great ride, great looking and a blast to drive with the top down up or anyway.

Cons: Limited availability.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 9
  • Performance: 9
  • Price: 9
  • Handling: 9
  • Ride: 8
  • Comfort: 8
  • Quality: 9
  • Overall: 8.7

More Data

Where Built: England

Major Options: Navigation system, Leather upholstery, Sport Package, Premium Package, Metallic paint, CVT Transmission.

Seating: 4

Number of Rows: 2

Length in Inches: 143.9

Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 3 years/36,000 miles free scheduled maintenance.

Weight in Pounds: Cooper 2,700, Cooper S 2,844

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: 771.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: 3,472 - 3,616.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Available.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 13.2

Destination Charge: $550