I worked my way up to 195/55/16s on my Cooper Convertible. People will tell you that getting rid of the runflats is a major improvement but I tried runflats and nons back to back - and found the difference at this size wasn't very noticeable. But my car did not
have sports suspension and I think it is the combination of 45-series 17s and sports suspension that causes so many complaints about runflats - on 16s and standard suspension, I don't think ditching the runflats makes a huge difference.
At 195/55/16 you don't get a great choice of sporty tyres (but, hey, just try finding a sporty 175/65/15 tyre!). I would very much like to try a car on 205/50/16 which quite a few people think is the 'sweet spot' for a Mini. But if you have a Cooper, not an S, the extra width will probably blunt performance more than you would want.
If you go for non-runflats, Conti now sell a complete one-shot device that supplies puncture repair gloop and pumps up the tyre, ContiComfortKit
, which might be more suitable if your wife doesn't fancy scrabbling around on the ground after a puncture.
It's hard to see the extra money on runflats is worth it for the small chance that they will serve a useful purpose. Have you used the runflat ability of the current tyres?