To some, the 2022 Mini Cooper S is merely a fun hatchback that can also be had as a convertible. It is, however, the descendant of a race-winning rally vehicle and, in the right hands, a fast little sports car. But how does it act in the hands of unskilled users? Specifically, on an autocross circuit in my hands? While a manual 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible isn’t the most exciting drop-top hatch, it may make you grin.
Table of Contents
The Cheeky British Charm of The 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Remains
To begin, there is some unpleasant news. Mini has temporarily ceased manual gearboxes due to supply chain concerns. However, because the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible I tested featured a manual transmission, some dealerships may have a manual or two lying around. Be prepared to hunt or wait if you want to row your gears.
The good news is that the 2022 Cooper S Convertible comes with additional standard equipment. To begin with, it gets a new rear diffuser and a new grille design. LED headlights, a digital gauge cluster, lane-departure warning, and an 8.8″ circular touchscreen with a color-changing LED ring are all standard. However, GPS and Apple CarPlay are omitted. On the other hand, the Union Jack roof is optional, while the Union Jack LED taillights are standard.
The 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible is the same as the 2021 model. Moreover, unlike previous generations, the Cooper S does not come standard with a sportier suspension than the non-S variant. On the other hand, summer performance tires are a free option, and my test vehicle had them. It also included the $500 adaptive shocks, which, like the steering and throttle response, are linked to the driving mode. Going into Sport Mode also enables automated rev-matching.
2022 Mini Cooper S is Friendly for Autocross Beginners
The common Mini Cooper cliché is that it handles like a go-kart, which is misleading. If you believe, as I did, that the Mini is a sharp, agile track weapon, you may be disappointed until you drive a Joh Cooper Works variant. But what it means is that the Mini is easy to maneuver and fling around. And it was the latter that made the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible a pleasurable first experience for this autocross newcomer.
On the one hand, the steering is not very communicative. Furthermore, the gates in the handbook might be better defined; I occasionally had difficulty locating the next gear. And, given that $40,000 almost puts you into a Golf R, this isn’t exactly the most exciting hatchback for the money. It is, however, the only convertible hot, er, warm hatch.
On the other hand, the steering is pleasantly fast and precise, especially in Sport Mode. In addition, the shifter of the Mini is straightforward to row, and the forgiving clutch features an easy-to-find biting point. Furthermore, the brakes are powerful, and the engine pulls forcefully at any rpm. Furthermore, even in the Convertible, there is minimal to no body roll. The chassis configuration also makes twisting and course-correcting under braking or throttle a breeze. And when you slam this FWD car into a turn hard enough to have it slide, you feel entirely fearless and in command.
The 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible was my slowest car of the day based only on lap timings. But towards the conclusion, I was still laughing and joyful. That’s a victory in my book.
If you’re a severe autocross racer, you’ll probably prefer the JCW Minis. Those are some very sporty tiny vehicles with greater power, sportier suspension, larger brakes, and limited-slip differentials. There’s also no noticeable ride penalty with the optional adaptive shocks, according to Car & Driver. Don’t forget that the Mini Convertible is available in JCW trim.
On the other hand, the dedicated track-goer will most likely opt for the Hardtop because of its lower price and greater stiffness. At that point, the Cooper S becomes a more affordable option with the same degree of flair and almost as much speed. And, in any case, many people buy Minis for their appearance rather than their performance. Furthermore, even before the supply chain problems began, the JCW models were solely automated.
So, yeah, the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible isn’t the fastest or most skilled autocrosser, nor is it a rally vehicle. But don’t underestimate the appeal of a cheery little hatchback with three pedals and plenty of Union Jacks.