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Looking for a cool little convertible to zoom around in without having to pay a high cost? Then the 2021 MINI Convertible might strike your fancy. Power and prestige are equally balanced in this intensely European drop-top. Last model year saw the inclusion of 7- and 8-speed automatic transmissions, as well as the standardization of more driver aids (such as the forward collision warning system with its built-in automatic emergency braking function). Overall, 2020 was a hit. But 2021 is slated to do well too.
What should you know about the 2021 MINI Convertible? The most important thing you should know is that the MINI is all about choices. Take your pick between three different engines on the main trim levels (the Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works), then select from one of three sub-trim levels (the Classic, Signature, and Iconic) to customize the style and features.
We know, that sounds kind of complex. But we're here to help make the decision to buy a little bit easier. The classy, upscale interior is going to be hard to ignore this model year, and the handling you get on this vehicle is really secure. With so many add-ons, it is safe to say that you can create your very own 2021 MINI Convertible.
But you will want to go into it knowing which trim and sub-trim combo is going to be the best one for you. That's why it is important that you read through to the end of this trim level comparison review. We will go trim by trim, sub-trim by sub-trim, before letting you know which mash-up we think presents the best deal to the average buyer.
Compare the 2021 MINI Convertible Cooper vs Cooper S - What is the Difference?
Let us kick things off with a comparison of the main trim levels, and up first are the base Cooper and the mid-tier Cooper S. What is the difference, you ask? It is all about the engines. The Cooper receives its power from a small 1.5-L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that puts forth 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The Cooper S gets boosted to a 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder that gives out a more satisfying 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.
Both of these engines come matched up with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. MINI does say that there is some limited availability for a 6-speed manual transmission, but we are betting that most drivers will want the DCT anyway. The DCT does a good job of smoothly shifting between gears and helping deliver power.
Compare the 2021 MINI Convertible Cooper S vs John Cooper Works. What is the Difference?
The John Cooper Works (JCW for short) is a step up with an even higher-powered engine: a revised version of the 2.0-L that comes on the Cooper S. This gives the MINI Convertible 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, which feels plentiful for a vehicle in this segment.
On this main trim level, an 8-speed automatic transmission comes equipped. It is certainly able to handle the power delivery to the wheels and also spends no time searching for gears. There does not seem to be any hope of getting a manual on this engine though.
Compare the 2021 MINI Convertible Classic vs Signature - What is the Difference?
Now that we have gone over the mechanical differences on the main trim levels, it is time to dig our heels in and examine just what kinds of features you get on each of the 2021 MINI Convertible's three sub-trims.
Starting things off, we have the base Classic and the mid-tier Signature trim levels. The Classic comes in your choice from four different body paint colors: a sleek Midnight Black, pristine Pepper White, hot Chili Red, and chic Moonwalk Grey. The exterior is done all in the single body color you select unless you decide to add white or black stripes to the bonnet. Silver Heli-spoke 15-inch wheels with standard all-season tires will get you where you need to go. Want to add a bike rack? Prep for one on the back of the car is included.
Inside of the Classic, you will find - front and center - a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with the accompanying infotainment system. Heating is standard on both front seats, which should feel nice if you plan on driving the MINI Convertible around on cooler days. Carbon Black leatherette upholstery will keep you cozy and feels breathable on hotter days. The multi-function steering wheel (which has controls mounted on it for the cruise control and sound system) is a sport wheel wrapped in leather. A lovely Hazy Grey tone adorns the interior surfaces, accompanied by Carbon Black Color Line trim to match the seats. The door panels are done in Satellite Grey, and there is a wind deflector to help keep your face from being assaulted by wind while cruising along the highway with the top down.
Aside from the infotainment set-up, you get some handy tech features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Rear park distance control also comes equipped on the Classic, as does an Active Driving Assistant. If you want, you can purchase a full subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio; otherwise, you can listen to AM/FM Radio, HD Radio, or your favorite songs on MP3.
Now, the Signature sub-trim gives you quite a boost in the amount of standard and optional features. Let's start with the standard ones and work from the outside, in. The exterior gets a massive list of body paint options, given the additions of: a beautiful Starlight Blue, stunning White Silver, the super sporty British Racing Green IV in metallic shine, beach-perfect Caribbean Aqua, and sunny Solaris Orange. In all, a choice from one of the 12 color options might be hard to make, but you can't really make a wrong one. Add to that the fact that you can choose to do the mirror caps and the roof in either white or black, and you can basically just create your own aesthetic.
The wheels do get upgraded to 16-inch-ers. They can come with one of the two following designs: silver alloys done in Loop Spoke or black alloys in Victory Spoke. A space saver spare tire gets added on, and, naturally, all-season tires come equipped.
What about the interior, you might ask? Well, that too is loaded to the brim with options for customization. The Signature Upholstery Package upgrades you to more premium leather. The standard seats have heating on the front two. You get more ways to personalize appearance though. As far as surfaces go, you can stick with the Hazy Grey or switch it up with Fiber Alloy (a MINI Yours option), Piano Black Illuminated (another MINI Yours design), or Piano Black. Color lines can be changed with the inclusion of Malt Brown, Glowing Red, and Satellite Grey.
Other features that get added include keyless entry and ignition, a dual-zone climate control system, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in navigation, and the Signature Premium Package. This package adds auto-dimming side mirrors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, side mirrors that are power-folding, LED headlights on the front fascia, chrome trim around the exterior, LED fog lights, cornering lights, and an impressive 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.
Bear in mind that you still get the Active Driving Assistant bundle of driver aids: forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam control. All of them seem to work as they should and can help get the MINI Convertible out of a jam when need be.
Compare the 2021 MINI Convertible Signature vs Iconic - What is the Difference?
So, what comes on the Iconic sub-trim that you cannot get on the Signature? The Iconic, as you might have already guessed, is all about topping the vehicle off with luxury-oriented features. You do get more options to customize, of course. A MINI Yours body color - a metallic Enigmatic Black, to be more precise - gets tacked on to the already lengthy list of options. You can still opt to have your mirror caps and roof painted in the body color, in white, or in black.
You also get way more wheel options that open up. Aside from the 16-inch wheel options on the Signature, the Iconic adds 17-inch options in the following designs: rail spoke 2-tone alloys, propeller spoke 2-tone alloys, roulette spoke 2-tone alloys, tentacle spoke silver alloys, cosmos spoke black alloys, and cosmos spoke silver alloys. All-season tires are slapped on as well, and you still get the space saver spare.
More interior options open up too. As far as upholstery goes, you can select from: Carbon Black leatherette, Black Pearl leatherette/cloth mix, Carbon Black cross punch leather, Satellite Grey lounge leather, Malt Brown Chesterfield leather, and Carbon Black MINI Yours lounge leather. You can also choose a MINI Yours sport steering wheel wrapped in leather or a JCW leather-wrapped wheel. Chrome trim line can be equipped, or you can opt to have it left out entirely.
An 8.8-inch touchscreen display gets added to the list of infotainment options. Also, Apple CarPlay comes equipped and allows you to sync your smartphone apps with your vehicle. Sorry, Android Auto is not available at all on MINI models. A wireless charging pad comes standard as well. You can also get white turn signals, the HomeLink universal transceiver (for controlling your garage door while away from home) and built-in digital compass on the rear-view mirror, and the nifty Harman Kardon sound system that we highly recommend.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Which of the three main trims and three sub-trims should you get on the 2021 MINI Convertible? They are all pretty solid options, but we definitely have our preferred combo: the base Cooper with the mid-tier Signature sub-trim.
Why the base Cooper? Well, on the Hardtop models, we recommend going with the Cooper S based on its power upgrades. But here, we do not think most people will find that to be necessary. Convertible owners will probably be satisfied with the power output on the base Cooper, which also puts forth a good fuel economy.
We recommend the Signature sub-trim because of how many options it delivers. The Classic does not offer that many, and its standard features feel a bit bare-bones. The Signature hits the spot with plenty of infotainment features and driver aids. Still, we cannot help but lament the lack of standard smartphone app integration via both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - something that many of MINI's competitors offer.
Overall, the 2021 MINI Convertible should be a fun little ride for the right customer. Stick with the base trim and go with the Signature for the right combination of power, fuel efficiency, and features. You can customize until your heart is content on this vehicle.
• Compare the 2020 MINI Convertible Trim Levels