For nearly five months, I’ve been planning a great birthday extravaganza with a drive around Mount Rainier with a local Cars and Coffee group (yes, we’ve covered their fun drives before) in a BMW. Then it wasn’t a BMW, but a 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible. d, in the end, I didn’t drive with the C&C group.

Which may have been a boon, but I’ll get to that later.

Murphy’s Law may have punted the actual birthday day of, but we circumnavigated the mountain a few days later, and it was perfect.

I’d requested something fun for my birthday and the Press-Gods had heard my plea, delivering a cute 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible which MSRPs for $29,600 ($34,450 as driven).

Early in the afternoon on a weekday, we packed up the 2016 MINI Cooper S Convertible with food, cameras, and directions with the intent of being out very late. Packing a MINI Cooper S will make you a Legos or Tetris master since it’s rather small, but you don’t buy a MINI Cooper for its trunk space, you buy a Mini Cooper S for its pint-sized packaging, legendary style, and go-kart performance.

2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible_23The exterior of the Mini keeps to the 60s-inspired styling. Rounded headlights and a broad front grille lead into the quintessential boxy Mini look.

BMW has given the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible some very comfortable, manual leather sport seats with adjustable thigh support. I’m sure small children would fit in the rear passenger area, but rear space will be limited for adults.

The Mini Connected infotainment system offers 6 speakers and a 6.5-inch display accessed through a dial on the center console by the armrest. An intuitive user-interface offers access to Bluetooth-connected phones, radio, and internal apps.

While stopping near Enumclaw, I had fun fiddling with ambient lighting options by changing the color of the footwell, door and LED lighting from one to the next (finally deciding on green for the trees we were heading toward).

(More below photographs.)

Rob took pictures of the wild elk napping in the shade of someone’s lawn as I got serious and put coordinates into the Mini’s navigation system ($1,750). It brought up the route to Mt. Rainier from Highway 410 quickly and easily, helping us get to our destination via the route we wanted.

Back on the road, the curves started to get tighter and closer together. My favorite sign (the curves ahead one) started popping up and it was time for the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible to shine sun upon us.

Powered by a peppy 2.0L TwinPower 4-cylinder engine, the 2016 Mini Cooper S puts down 189 horsepower and 207-lb.ft. of torque. The Getrag 6-speed manual transmission was silky smooth and fun to shift from one gear to the next (our favorite was third gear).

T2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible_25he Performance Control package (standard) will manage the engine output and apply the brakes to individual wheels to ensure high-performance use is always controllable. In Green mode, the engine was still responsive but more eco-friendly than Mid (normal) mode.

In Sport mode, the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible became a snarling teeny-beast eager to chew miles along twisty roads.

Driving with the Seattle C&C group doesn’t usually include time to enjoy the slower things in life.

However, with the top dropped in the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible I could hear the birds chirping from the treetops, see the heavens above, smell the icy air filled with the fragrant scent of alpine wildflowers, and better hear the engine sound as I put my foot down.

While my birthday hadn’t gone as planned, it was spectacular.

This was exactly what the Mini Cooper S was made for. Not city streets heading to work, not shopping with your buddies, but for that care-free, top-down, sport-mode-engaged, mid-week, curvy-route road trips.

It was made to pull over and stare up at the more than 300-foot tall fir trees looming above you or gaze in wonder at the eagle riding warm air thermals overhead.

It was made to downshift in the many tunnels around Mt. Rainier, enclosing driver and passengers in a crackling-good exhaust note.

This was the Mini-life. And I kind of liked it.

(More below photograpghs.)

As the day waned, the clouds rolled in. When rain started to patter on the windshield, I pulled over to put the swift automatic soft-top up. Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers helped clear the view and LED headlights ($1,500 Sport Package) illuminated the dark road ahead.

Heading back toward civilization, I became sad. I didn’t want my time with the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible to end. As a complete package, our tester 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible was everything I’d want from a city-sized car: good looks, a comfortable interior with snazzy embellishments, and a powertrain that will make you want to keep driving, keep finding more curvy road signs.

If you’d like to have this kind of experience on your own, then head to to start customizing your 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible!