2020 MINI Cooper Convertible vs. 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/19

Compared to metal, the Cooper Convertible’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda MX-5 Miata has a metal gas tank.

Both the Cooper Convertible and the MX-5 Miata have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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The Cooper Convertible comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The MX-5 Miata’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The Cooper Convertible’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the MX-5 Miata’s (12 vs. 5 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Convertible for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the MX-5 Miata.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Convertible first among compact sporty cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The MX-5 Miata isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The Cooper Convertible’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The Cooper Convertible S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 8 more horsepower (189 vs. 181) and 55 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The John Cooper Works Convertible’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 47 more horsepower (228 vs. 181) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (235 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Cooper Convertible Auto turbo 3 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the MX-5 Miata Auto (28 city/36 hwy vs. 26 city/35 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Convertible’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cooper Convertible’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the MINI Cooper Convertible higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Mazda MX-5 Miata (3). This means the Cooper Convertible produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the MX-5 Miata every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is optional on the MINI Cooper Convertible, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MX-5 Miata.

The Cooper Convertible offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an SMG.

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the MINI Cooper Convertible with manual transmission from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

The MINI Cooper Convertible manual has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the John Cooper Works Convertible’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the MX-5 Miata:

John Cooper Works Convertible

MX-5 Miata

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

11 inches

The Cooper Convertible stops much shorter than the MX-5 Miata:

Cooper Convertible

MX-5 Miata

70 to 0 MPH

158 feet

175 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

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The Cooper Convertible’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Convertible offers optional 18-inch wheels. The MX-5 Miata’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The MINI Cooper Convertible’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Mazda MX-5 Miata only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Cooper Convertible can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Cooper Convertible offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The MX-5 Miata’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Convertible has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cooper Convertible’s wheelbase is 7.3 inches longer than on the MX-5 Miata (98.2 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

The Cooper Convertible S handles at .91 G’s, while the MX-5 Miata pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

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The Cooper Convertible is 3 inches shorter than the MX-5 Miata, making the Cooper Convertible easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The Cooper Convertible has standard seating for 4 passengers; the MX-5 Miata can only carry 2.

Cargo Capacity

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The Cooper Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the MX-5 Miata (5.7 vs. 4.6 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Cooper Convertible easier. The Cooper Convertible’s trunk lift-over height is 30.4 inches, while the MX-5 Miata’s liftover is 32 inches.

Servicing Ease

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The Cooper Convertible uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The MX-5 Miata uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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The Cooper Convertible offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Cooper Convertible’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The MX-5 Miata’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Cooper Convertible the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the MX-5 Miata can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Cooper Convertible’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The MX-5 Miata’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Cooper Convertible’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The MX-5 Miata Sport/Club’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Cooper Convertible to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Cooper Convertible has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The MX-5 Miata has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Grand Touring.

The Cooper Convertible’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The MX-5 Miata’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The Cooper Convertible’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.

When the Cooper Convertible with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The MX-5 Miata’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional dual zone air-conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer dual zone air-conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Cooper Convertible offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t available as a coupe or four-door.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/19

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Convertible first among compact sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The MX-5 Miata isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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