Having tested the five-door hatch in 189bhp Cooper S form two years ago and the six-door Clubman as a 148bhp Cooper D earlier this year, we’ve waited until now to evaluate a Mini with a three-cylinder engine: in this case, the 134bhp petrol unit.
And having found much to like about the 1.5-litre triple in other applications, we expected good things – but came away with some ambivalence.
There’s not a lot wrong with the Convertible’s outright performance, but it could feel stronger. We tested the car alongside one of its rivals, the DS 3 Puretech 130 Cabrio, and the DS outperformed the Mini most tellingly on flexibility – by more than three seconds when accelerating from 30-70mph in fourth.
Overly tall gearing is the Mini’s key problem, and it pours cold water on the performance of what ought to feel like a torquey turbocharged engine, as well as putting obstacles in the driving experience.
The engine feels strong and broad-chested in second gear, spinning freely to the far side of 60mph. But shift to third and much of the keenness gets lost to the car’s unnecessarily long legs.