Buy audi a1 or mini convertible?
May 20, 2012 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Should I buy Audi A1 1.4 or Mini one 1.6 convertible? Which will I enjoy more?

I want to buy a new car that is fun and exciting (I am a girly girl) but also good quality and good to drive. My head says Audi A1 but my heart goes for the mini convertible. Both have similar specifications. but the convertible is £1000 more. I want sat nav, bluetooth, climate control and rear sensors. Any opinions?
posted by starrjenny to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
'enjoy' is entirely subjective. You need to drive both of them as they are pretty much comparable in quality. First step is to drive both for at least 30 minutes each (preferably on the same day on the same route). If you can't decide, try for a longer road test of each. If you have no clear favourite at that point go for the cheaper one.

You'll get a lot of opinion on what other people enjoy more from this question, but that is totally useless in establishing which YOU will enjoy more. This is what test drives are for.
posted by Brockles at 6:42 AM on May 20, 2012

Hmmm. Well, what do you enjoy in a car? Me, I like corners and acceleration. So if it were me, I'd definitely go the Audi. Our old Audi A4 1.8T S-line was loads of fun to drive. Low and fast, especially through corners. Did I mention I like corners? I like corners.

The Mini would have more chassis flex, so it'd feel more stodgy. And I'm not sure if a convertible would really be so much fun after the novelty of having no roof wore off.

Are those really your only two options?
posted by Sutekh at 6:50 AM on May 20, 2012

Where do you live? Because the only real reason to have a convertible is you live somewhere nice and sunny and you can enjoy the weather a lot in it. On the non-nice days, it's just a car with a terrible roof.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:57 AM on May 20, 2012

I was just watching a Top Gear UK episode where they noted that the big problem with convertibles is that for performance driving, they just can't cut it. With a conventional, the box-like structure keeps the whole thing rigid and easier to manage maneuvering-wise but with a convertible, it's like putting two heavy loads on the ends of a playing card (the floor).

They say that you can reinforce the car's structure to mitigate this effect of physics, but that it adds a lot of weight, which can drag out the car's performance.

Obviously this doesn't hold if you're not going to be tearing around a closed track with the thing. But I thought it might be valuable to know.
posted by kalessin at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2012

Get a standard Mini + the panoramic sunroof option.
You can also run the air con with the sunroof open, something that doesn't really work with a convertible.
posted by Lanark at 8:42 AM on May 20, 2012

I have hired a Mini Cooper convertible for 10 days a year back and currently own an A1.

I didn't like the Mini especially - I found it heavy, quite slow, with none of the exciting and dynamic driving experience other people seem to talk about it. I was nicely made though - very solid - and comfortable. Mrs MM found the Mini *very* hard to park because of the rear visibiliity. I didn't. If I was going to get one I'd get it in Cooper S spec.

The A1 is a nice car. The engine is willing and fun to drive. I've got it the s-tronic 1.4. The DSG gearbox has some lag although I don't regret not getting the manual. YMMV. I'm happy with it. My car came with 17 inch allows. It looks great. The ride is quite hard though and if you're planning to do lots of long road trips then have a think about that. Do not get the Audi Sat Nav package. It is not worth it. The Bluetooth comms kit works really well. Perhaps most importantly it is a much, much newer car than the Mini.

It is worth noting that the Audi A1 is a tarted up Volkswagen Polo so for the same price as the 1.4 Audi you can get the hooligan spec Volkswagen with the 180bhp. If it is at all an option for you I'd seriously consider a Fiat 500 Abarth, which most reviews I've seen reckon is the most fun of all. I've not driven one but here in London there are a lot of them.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:49 PM on May 20, 2012

I don't have any of the special features you mentioned (if "climate control" is something different from the standard heat/ac), but I bought a Mini convertible almost three years ago and I love it.

If not having a roof is a "novelty factor", it doesn't wear off very quickly, at least not for me. If it's above 55 or 60 and not raining, I have the top down 90% of the time — highway, city streets, country roads, wherever. I can check when I go out a bit later to see how long I've had it down in total (the car keeps track — thought it was kind of dumb when I heard about it and wouldn't have paid extra for the gauge, but it comes standard and it's kind of interesting info).

I live in St. Louis, which has all four seasons. Last year I had the top down a couple of days in February because it was so warm. There have been times I've visited family out of town over Thanksgiving and had the top down. Even when it's up, it's not awful — rain doesn't leak in or anything like that. I haven't had any problems keeping it warm in the winter or that sort of thing.

I haven't had any problems with the car on the mechanical front. I hear the Mini S (which you can get in convertible or hardtop) is a lot more fun as far as cornering and acceleration go, but I haven't driven one. I don't really drive it "hard" (I'll take it out on trips, country roads, etc., but I don't aggressively corner or hammer the accelerator or anything like that), but I haven't had problems with not having enough power to pass someone, and you can definitely have fun on twisty roads if that's your thing. And it's almost always the first thing down the road after a stoplight, and I'm not even trying to do that, it just takes off quickly.

I liked driving before getting it and would just take off and drive for entire days, back when gas was cheaper. I love driving now — it gets pretty good gas mileage, I think, I've averaged about 29 MPG over the life of the car and the best I've done is 36 — that was entirely highway driving and with the top up (in winter). You could probably

All in all, I really enjoy the car, if that wasn't apparent.
posted by brentajones at 6:56 PM on May 20, 2012

So, I've had the top down for 346 hours and change. As a sheer percentage of "time I've owned the car", that's obviously not going to be very large.

But, I've driven the car 25,400 miles or so. The car also tells me I average 27.6 MPH (this is resettable, like a trip odometer, and so it's possible I reset it at some point but I don't remember doing that). That works out to just over 920 hours. So, as a rough estimate I've had my top down around 37% of the actual time I've spent driving in my car.

I have no idea if that's accurate or not: the top-down number is and the odometer reading is, but the average MPH is what the calculation hinges on and I'm not sure if 27.6 is a real number. It also probably doesn't take into account sitting at stoplights and such, depending how it's calculated. As close as I can figure out how to get given the data available though.
posted by brentajones at 9:17 PM on May 20, 2012

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