My wife and I bought a MINI Cooper S convertible almost a year ago. These are my thoughts about it:
The MINI Cooper convertible is the Apple Macintosh of cars. It's very expensive in comparison to other models with similar performance and features, and it has a lot of annoying flaws, but people who own them absolutely love them. It is the only car I've owned that has delighted me.
First, I'll note that I am not a "car guy." I won't say anything about horsepower, torque, zero-to-60, how it handles on a race course, or how it compares to any of the bazillion other cars on the road.
I'll start with what I don't like. It's small. Two adults fit in the front seats fine, but the rear seat is basically unusable. The trunk is almost unusable as well. We've had to cut shopping trips short because we knew we were carrying more shopping bags in our hands than would fit in the car. A full-size suitcase won't fit in the trunk, so think "duffel bags" if you want to do any traveling.
While it's small, you don't get a lot of the advantages of a small car. We only get about 26 MPG, in mostly highway driving. It's short nose-to-tail, but is about as wide as a typical car, so you can't squeeze into those parking spaces that other cars have to pass by. The turning radius is a lot wider than you would expect.
With the convertible top up, visibility is terrible. You can't see much out the rear window, due to the roll-bar thingees on top of the rear seats, and the blind spots in the rear quarters are huge. I often have to put my chin down on the steering wheel to see traffic signals, due to the low ceiling.
The GPS system sucks.
But with all those problems, I'm still thrilled with it.
Despite its small size and tiny engine, it feels more like a mid-size car. It's very stable, and takes corners well. The automatic transmission works pretty well in most circumstances, and switching into the semi-automatic mode is great when driving on twisty mountain roads like the one that goes up to my house.
And it has this magical aura that makes people smile. People come up to me in parking lots and ask about it. Other MINI drivers wave at me on the road.
So, if you just want practical inexpensive transportation, stay away from the MINI. But if you want to be happy when you're driving, give it a try.
P.S. Don't buy a MINI or any other car from Global Imports BMW in Atlanta. Those guys suck.