2024 Mini Cooper S Convertible Seaside Edition

A ride with a close family friend reaffirms just how well a Mini tugs at your heartstrings
A ride with a close family friend reaffirms just how well a Mini tugs at your heartstrings

by Ben So | July 17, 2023


Sometimes, the point of owning a car is more than getting from A to B. There are vehicles that are good at doing exactly that and little more, but there are also ones that brighten your day, that leave you feeling a little more special, all the while accomplishing the tasks everyday cars can do. This week, we have exactly the car that achieves the latter — the 2024 Mini Cooper S Convertible Seaside Edition — and I witnessed it first-hand when I went to pick up my good friend’s mother — ‘Auntie’, as I would refer to her in our Hong Kong culture.

It was a sunny summer day when I picked up Auntie to bring her from one end of town to another. I rolled up with the bright blue Mini, and all I saw were her eyes beaming in joy from the end of her driveway. She had already taken her phone out and started snapping pictures from all angles as I was still driving up, and before I even had the chance to say hi, she handed me her phone so she can pose with the little droptop.

Turns out, Auntie had long been a fan of Minis. I always knew my good friend truly loves them, and even went as far as buying an R56-generation Cooper as her first car. But I had no idea this love ran in the family, and this warm reception left me feeling a little awestruck.

Once Auntie put her phone away, I introduced her to this limited edition model, commemorating the 30th anniversary of convertible Minis in North America, and walked her through all the unique bits and pieces that made it special. Right away, she complimented the colour; Mini calls it “Caribbean Aqua”, and it is one of two colours exclusive to the Seaside Edition. Auntie especially loved the classic Mini design elements, like the gorilla-sized eyes and the iconic silhouette.

Aside from the obvious badges and decals, the Seaside Edition receives 18-inch wheels that look like they are moving even when standing still, supposedly inspired by water waves. Then there are the weighted centre caps allowing for the “Mini” logo to always stay upright — something we typically see on Rolls-Royces. Much like the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Mustang, Mini has found a way to stay true to their design heritage while keeping their cars looking fresh and modern, and this Seaside Edition truly encapsulates that.

Details to differentiate the Seaside Edition are a bit subtler inside, with markings on the steering wheel, door sills, floor mats, and a “30 Years of Convertible” inscription on the passenger side of the dashboard. I was slightly disappointed at the rather monochromatic interior after such an attention-grabbing colour on the outside, but Auntie did not seem to care as she continued on about her love for the historic brand. She told me her favourite features are the classic roundel cluster on the centre console that is now home to the 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment, and the retro-style toggle switches below the climate control unit. With additional Union Jack patterns rounding out the theme, we both agreed that Mini makes you feel like you are in a much more special car than anything in its price range.


Infotainment commands are accepted through a rotary dial or by touch, and the operating system is largely derived from BMW’s iDrive system, which has evolved into one of the more intuitive systems in the industry. The Mini’s fun character is once again on display through the use of dedicated animations within the system menu, and I got to see Auntie’s jaw dropped when I showed her how the LED light ring around the infotainment screen responds to various user inputs such as volume and temperature adjustments. Long story short, the lengthy list of party tricks are sure to put a smile on even the most casual observers, and in my case here, I can see why every little detail reaffirms one’s passion for Minis.

Finally, we hit the road. The upgraded 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, especially in Sport mode, makes a nice growl. Output is rated at 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, which may not seem like much at first, but its tuning and responsive eight-speed automatic transmission feel lively especially in city. Those who want more haste should spring for the 228-horsepower Mini John Cooper Works variant; otherwise the Cooper S is solid for the everyday commute, especially when you consider its respectable fuel economy rating of 8.8 L/100 km combined.

Driving around in the Cooper S convertible, I could not help but feel joy. It may have been Auntie’s enthusiasm rubbing off on me, but I realized I would not have enjoy being behind the wheel as much if the Mini did not have the reflex to match its expressive personality.

Fortunately, it did not disappoint. Steering is nicely weighted and quick to react, and you can sense this chassis loves being tossed around. Being front-wheel drive, the Mini understeers but it will communicate that ahead of time. The brakes are grabby enough to stop you from getting into too much trouble. The Cooper S convertible overall had a softer set up than I initially expected, but I found myself preferring it over many other sport compacts for better comfort and usability in the city.

Speaking of comfort, the Cooper S convertible  performed surprisingly well. The suspension, while firm, absorbed bumps well, and there is actually more room than its size (or nameplate) suggests. We closed the top when the sun got a little too much during our drive — a process that can be done in 18 seconds and at speeds up to 30 km/h — and neither of us felt cramped. As you can imagine, space in the rear is far from generous, but two average-sized adults can fit without having to cross their legs, which should be considered a win.

Arguably, the best part to the Mini’s appeal is its relatively affordable price tag for something that is marketed to premium car buyers. The regular Cooper S convertible starts at $45,190, and the Seaside Edition checks in at $50,990. Only 60 examples are coming to Canada, so for hardcore Mini enthusiasts, the exclusivity might be worth it.

In terms of competition, the Mazda MX-5, Ford Mustang Convertible, and Chevrolet Camaro Convertible are the only drop-top options around its price point. While these models are similarly priced, they each have their own distinct heritage and fan base, so we do not expect much cross-shopping. The most shopping a Mini buyer will likely do is pick a spice level and colour, and the Seaside Edition convertible ticks all of the right boxes for a fun summer ride.

Though the car ride with Auntie was only 30 minutes long, I saw just how much a nameplate can tug at one’s heartstrings. I’ve driven Auntie in far fancier whips before, like the M850i xDrive, but her parting words for the 2024 Mini Cooper S Convertible Seaside Edition — loosely translated from Cantonese — as she hops out sums up just how well Mini does it: “I always appreciate the cool cars you bring by, but this Mini makes me the happiest.”

See Also

2022 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4

2023 MINI John Cooper Works

2022 Mini Cooper SE

Vehicle Specs
Compact convertible
Engine Size
2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Ben So


Ben has been living and breathing car magazines, spec sheets, and touring auto shows for his entire life. As proud member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada, he keeps a close eye on the latest-and-greatest in the auto industry. When he isn't geeking out about the coolest new cars, he's probably heading to the next hidden-gem ice cream shop with his three quickly growing kids.

Current Toys: '97 Integra Type R, '07 LS 460 RWD, '08 Corvette Z06, '18 Odyssey Touring