2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition First Test Review

2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition First Test Review

10/22/2021

When the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition arrived at MotorTrend HQ, we wondered if this flashy subcompact drove with charisma to match its extroverted appearance. It certainly looks like a car that belongs on twisting roads thanks to its racing stripes, a checkered-flag roof, and muscular bodywork to set it apart from base Cooper models. It also comes with a standard manual transmission, a perk in a world where three-pedal driving approaches extinction. Indeed, small stick-shift convertibles are a rare breed in today’s market, but would the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition prove a worthy example of an old archetype?

What Does the Sidewalk Edition Include?

The Sidewalk Edition is an appearance and features package that adds both style and functionality to the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible. On the aesthetic side, the Sidewalk Edition Mini rides on two-tone split-spoke 17-inch wheels. Exterior mirror caps are painted to match the Deep Laguna Metallic blue paint. A special soft top has a neat, checkered-flag pattern that manages to not be too ostentatious. It also carries some “Sidewalk Edition” badging.

There are more differences from the regular Mini Cooper S on the inside. The 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition adds unique leather seats with blue accents and yellow stripes down their center that appear to recall a city street. Matte-painted color-matching door panels tie the interior and exterior together.

The Sidewalk package also adds a number of features that inject a bit of luxury into this subcompact runabout. On the outside, our Cooper S test car had power-folding mirrors, keyless entry, and a wind deflector. In the cabin, there’s a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, an upgraded Harman/Kardon audio system, and ambient lighting. Mini’s Navigation Plus package also came as part of the Sidewalk Edition. Among other connected and remote services, this also added wireless Apple CarPlay—great to have since there aren’t many places to stash a tethered phone other than in the shallow pocket below the infotainment display.

Mini equips the Cooper S with a standard 8.8-inch display that has bright colors and is responsive to commands. The user interface is quick and easy to navigate with an intuitive layout. A head-up display rounds out the interior amenities, though for some drivers the projection of the graphics appears on top of the wiper blade and is a bit annoying.

Mini charges $7,000 more than the regular 2022 Cooper S Convertible for the Sidewalk Edition. It’s a pricey add-on, but this car appeals to people who care as much about style as they do about driving. In this sense, the Cooper S Convertible is a designer car: It performs in the same ballpark as other sporty subcompacts, but its eye-catching looks are worth it to those who don’t mind dropping the cash in order to get a more personalized appearance.

How Does It Drive?

In the comfort-oriented Mid mode or in Eco, the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition is a champ on city streets. Its steering is much lighter and less responsive in these settings, but the lessened throttle response allows for better speed modulation during rush hour or in stop-and-go scenarios. Give the gas pedal a good blip, however, and it’s easy to get the revs to swing high enough for a solid downshift. The clutch pedal’s weight is calibrated nicely, so there’s no frustration or leg pain even in the heaviest of traffic.

The Mini’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is rather refined and delivers its 189 hp smoothly. Acceleration isn’t wild, but with 206 lb-ft of torque, this Cooper S scoots from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds. That’s enough to get the convertible out in front of traffic with reasonable ease. It’ll keep pulling past freeway speeds, too, with addictive linearity from the four-cylinder engine and a surprisingly throaty exhaust note that goads the driver to keep trucking along. On longer highway stretches, the car exhibited a tendency to wander in its lane due to its short wheelbase, but the firm suspension tuning never felt punishing and resulted in a generally composed ride.

Canyon driving reveals the best side of the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition. Pop the drive mode into Sport, and the convertible wakes up with sharp pedal responsiveness and firmer, if a little stiff, steering. The six-speed manual transmission features long throws, but the lever snappily clicks into the desired gate. Sport mode enables rev matching, as well, and the car reacts to downshifts with an immediacy that keeps the driver engaged. Chassis balance is excellent, nearly neutral until the tires get too much heat in them, giving way to slight but manageable understeer.

Braking gives the driver great feedback with constant, but not aggressive, bite throughout the pedal travel. At the track, we noted the Mini Cooper S Convertible’s rear exhibited a slight tendency to swing out under hard braking, but this gave way to chuckle-inducing trail braking on curvy roads.

Due to the car’s great chassis tuning, it was easy to work the 2022 Mini Cooper S into a rhythm during a spirited drive up Angeles Crest Highway. There’s very little buffeting with the top down, and the car remained pleasant with the top dropped well into the day until it became too warm. Fortunately, the top pops up and retracts quickly, so it’s no sweat to convert the Cooper S at a traffic light. With the roof in place, you notice some wind noise in the cabin, but it’s a small trade-off when the Mini excels at fulfilling its purpose as a fun, subcompact convertible.

Is It Safe?

Several safety features are included with the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition. Mini’s Active Driving Assistant is standard and boasts things such as forward-collision warning, pedestrian and lane departure warning, and high-beam assist. There are rear parking sensors but none in the front, which leaves room for some guesswork as to what’s ahead of the hood.

With the top down, rear visibility is atrocious; it’s almost impossible to see anything in the rearview mirror due to the collapsed roof folded up behind the rear seats. Even large SUVs are hidden by the Mini’s folded top.

How Much Does It Cost?

The 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition we tested came in at a final price of $39,750, which is a good chunk of change for a subcompact convertible. A regular 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible starts at $32,750, a decent bit more affordable. Its competitors are limited to three other affordable convertibles: the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Camaro. The MX-5 is down on power and only has two seats, while the Mustang and Camaro offer more power and crucially more space all around—especially in the trunk, where the Mini only has room for two people’s luggage for a short weekend trip.

The Miata starts just shy of $27,000, the Camaro starts past the $31,000 mark, and the Mustang is the most expensive with a starting price of nearly $33,000. Although this Mini’s price tag is far more expensive than those potential competitors, it comes loaded with features that solidify the 2022 Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition as a complete package. Buyers will ultimately have to decide if making a fashion statement is worth the spend.

Verdict

A sporty car’s performance should justify its appearance, and the 2022 Mini Cooper S Convertible Sidewalk Edition promises a lot with its boy-racer styling. In the end, this convertible delivered competent performance on our test track while also delighting us on the highway, in the city, and in the canyons.

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