Day One with the MCS Convertible

MINIUSA has loaned us a Cool Blue Cooper S convertible for evaluation purposes and we'll passing along our thoughts on the car daily. At the end of our week these reviews will culminate in a full recap of the car and our experiences with it. Beyond putting the MCSc through it's paces on Chicago roads and traffic we'll also be taking an extended trip through some of the finer portions of Wisconsin later this week. Hopefully we can give you not only our opinions on the performance of the car but also an accurate assessment of day to day life with it. And if you have any questions about the car during the week please use the contact link above and let us know!

Thoughts on the first day…

To drive a drop-top on a cool, crisp, gorgeous fall day is a thing of sheer joy. But even beyond that it's hard to convey all the senses one gets while driving the new MINI Convertible simply with it's top down. For one you're just a little bit closer to being in an actual go-kart. Secondly you feel totally in control of both the car and the situation around you, hearing every little sound both you and other cars make. The typical filters that are between you and your surroundings are almost entirely eliminated. And on top of that all the normal senses one has are amplified when your in a car that drives and handles like the MINI. It all makes for a driving experience that is truly unique.

(more to come tomorrow…)

  • http://www, DUCTTAPE

    Ok Gabe, if you are going to make my wait for delivery in early December unbearable with daily smiles about your cabriol driving, I might totally lose my sanity. :)


    SEE?!? It already started! I up the wrong url above for my homepage in the last posting!

    Visit me at: and feel free to wait until December with me…

  • Chris

    The car is awsome I got mine on 9/17!!! Only problem I have is the HK Stereo sucks!!!! It is not as good as my 02 Cooper stock stereo!!

  • SrBlanco


    One question I have is how noisy is it at highway speeds with the top up?



  • Gabe

    Michael – I have yet to drive with the top up but I will be doing a lot of highway driving later this week.

  • Ian Cull

    Oh no, not the “HK sucks” thread again … Chris, There must be something wrong with the settings or your HK system. Make sure you aren't configured for “instrumental” or something similar – personally I use the “spatial” setting most of the time. I have HK in GBMINI and have heard HK in an MCSC and it is much better than stock Boost – massively higher clarity.

    Gabe, Congrats – enjoy. You describe “hearing every little sound” as a benefit – that is my biggest downside of a convertible …

  • TJKonarski

    I noticed a HUGE difference when I changed the setting on the HK stereo from “Driver” to the regular setting. The Driver setting seems to move all the sound to the passenger door speaker, compromising sound quality and clarity — It was awful! Putting it back to the regular setting (what Ian Cull is calling “spatial”) made it sound so, SO much better.

  • Michael Babischkin

    If my experience riding in a MINI One Cabrio last month are any indication, the Carbrio is definately noisier than a hard top at highway speeds with the top up. But not dramatically so.

    We didn't hear the wind rushing over the top or anything.

  • Lee Langston

    My wife has a Jeep and i know exactly what you are saying. It is so amazing to hear everything around you while driving. You realize that we are constantly surrounded by sounds that we are closed off from. You realize that birds are loud and that most traffic lights squeak when they move in the wind. Plus, people just seem to feel free to talk to you at corners, much more so that if you had the window down.

    For all the people who do not like the H/K, just make sure that the Bass and Treble are always at the middle setting or below. The H/K tries to protect itself by cutting back on power rather drastically if the are raised.

  • TJKonarski

    All convertibles are noisier than their hard-top counterparts. It's just the nature of the beast — This fact shouldn't be all that unusual or surprising. Also, when the top is up they tend to heat up faster in the hot sun and the interior is a bit colder in the winter. On some level this is true in all convertibles, even inside the one's that are fully-lined and insulated.

  • TJKonarski

    Let's remember that some of the “perfection” we expect of a new vehicle is compromised slightly when we choose the aesthetic of convertible.

  • alex

    just an HK clarification: I'm pretty sure “spatial” is NOT the same as turning driver mode off. They're independent of each other.

  • Chris

    Cooper S Convertible is very qwiet with top up and down!

  • GSKChicago

    Alex… You are correct. “Driver” setting is a separate setting designed to focus the sound best to the drivers “ear”. The Spatial and other settings are specific to the overall sound setting, festival, instrumental, etc. If my memory serves, spatial and simulated seem to be the best sounding to my ear, but everyone's ear is of course different. Hence, I actually like the HK sound system…

    This however, is not the place for an HK discussion. This is where we are supposed to revel in the beauty and engineering excellence of the MCSc. :o)

  • Bart

    Gabe, I have one question… Can I have it when your done? 😀

  • TJKonarski

    Alex: You're right. I realized what Ian Cull meant after I posted the comment. I re-read Ian's post and was like, “Ohh…!”

  • peter

    Any precipitation in the forecast (especially snow – hehe)? Would be interesting to see how well the top holds up/keeps out the elements. Maybe run it through a car wash before you're done? (…and do drive it fast with the top down when it rains to see whether the aerodynamics keep you and yours dry!)

  • peter

    …oh – if rain is lacking, then try the windshield washer / xenon washer at speed…

  • TJKonarski

    I ran mine through a brushless carwash. As with most convertibles there is usually some kind of leakage from the high-pressure jets of water being blasted at the seals. My MCS Convertible had only a few drips of water. In comparison, my S2000 leaked quite a bit in a brushless carwash. However, with the top up in the rain neither my MCS Convertible nor my S2000 leaked in any way whatsoever. Again, it's a part of owning a convertible and keep in mind how strong those jets are when they're blasting horizontally at your car. For what imperfections most convertibles share in common they more than make up for with open-air fun in the sun! :-)

  • Gabe

    I did manage to drive through some light rain with the top down. It didn't come into the cabin while on the move but at lights I get a bit wet.

    Oh and there's no snow in the forecast… it's actually going to be quite nice most of the week.

  • dwbowers

    I've driven a convertible for years. I currently have a BMW 325i convertible. I'm scheduled to receive my MCSC convertible in Seattle next spring. Convertibles are noisier than hard tops. The best part about having a convertible is to be able to put the top down. It's like having two cars! I love putting the top down on my way home after jogging through the park. It's a great way to cool down after a work out!

  • MadisonMini

    I've had my 2005 MCSC since 9/30. It's been great. With the top down at 70mph, you can still have an conversation with the co-pilot without yelling. And unless your hair is wet, your hair isn't crazy after you get out.

    I've found the HK stereo to be great for the MCSC, can keep going as loud as necessary with the top down with minimal distortion (I've been using the h/k setting).

    Anyway, I'd be happy to answer convertible questions if anyone has any at my email address above.

  • NDallator

    This is a question for anyone with experience with other convertibles. How does the MCSC compare to other convertibles? I know the S2000 is a very different car, but TJKonarski, how do they compare? Did you switch to the MCSC or do you have both? Also, any comparisons to the 325 convertible would be appreciated.


  • dillon

    …what…wait until tomorrow,Gabe? You are such a tease.(lol)

    …anyway,I got a chance to test drive both the Cooper and the MCS at Hank Arron MINI,Atlanta,last month. It was a blast. I'm sure that it is the same for you as well.

  • TJKonarski

    I sold my S2000 because it was very small on the interior and it was rear wheel drive. I live in SE Michigan — The winters were tough and this was my full-time car. The S2000 was a true 'sports' car. For 'creature features' and comfort it offered very little. (It didn't even have a clock.) However, it performed very well, was very fast and was tons of fun (240 horsepower and it was only a 4 cylinder.) The MINI, on the other hand, is still fast (not as fast, but fast nonetheless) and is part of an international history that did not exist with my S2000 (though the S2000 was created to celebrate Honda's 50th year in the U.S.) The MINI has a prominent past and is now revived with promise for an excellent future here in the U.S. When my S2000 first came out it turned heads and created a buzz much like what the MINI Convertible is doing right now. I believe the public loves a unique, distinctive design that pushes the envelope. The difference, the MINI Convertible offers design and innovation that is so head-turning, unusual and refreshing. It's so different and stands out so much that for a brief moment I almost feel uncomfortable. That feeling is soon replaced by pride.

    The bottom line for me is that comparing the S2000 to the MINI Convertible is like comparing apples to oranges. They're similar in a lot of ways, yet very different. I'm happy that the S2000 was a part of my life for 3 years. And now, I'm very excited to begin this new chapter with my MINI Cooper S Convertible (Cool Blue, with EVERY option MINI offered.) Motor On!!!

  • Allan

    I can't wait. I was happily driving a 2003 A4 Sport until someone ran into me about a month ago. The replacement value wouldn't pay for a new A4, but covered something even better. MCS convertible! I ordered mine after driving a “friend of a friend's” S- coupe 2 weeks ago. I was sold. No mini dealership in Little Rock, AR — so I called up Memphis and Ordered it. Black with Grey and black 2 tone pleather, heated sets, sport package with 5 spoke bullet wheels, driving lights and chrome mirrors. I'm stoked. Saw my first convertible today, yellow with R90 17's. Very Bad ass. First time to see a version of what will soon be mine. Late october production/december delivery!

  • Melanie

    I am SOOOOOO excited…I just learned today that my “baby” is being born this coming week! (and BTW, the info I got from 1-866-ASK-MINI is spot-on with the website's Owners Lounge information…) I can't believe I've yet to see one in the Bay area! (Chili Red w/white stripes, chrome in/out, all 3 packages, plether seats, red dash, driving lights…sort of like the rallye style but topless! Yeahhhh!!!!)


    Melanie, me too! Built on 10/25. My mid December date might be late November, and I'm ready!

  • Andrea

    Can anyone tell me how to adjust the Harman Kardon stereo system that came with my 03 Mini S? I can’t seem to find how to change the settings! Thanks, Andrea

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