The market for the go-faster Mini has become somewhat muddled and fragmented since the arrival, in 2015, of the top-of-the-current-series-production-pile John Cooper Works.
Since then, we’ve had the ultra-low-volume stripped-out 228bhp John Cooper Works Challenge limited edition, complete with adjustable suspension, Cup tyres and £32k price.
And finally, last year, the Cooper S Works 210: a permanent addition to the factory range that copied the mechanical recipe of the 210 Challenge Edition but was available with less lavish interior equipment and at a lower showroom price.
Oh, and don’t forget the John Cooper Works GP concept, which we saw a couple of months ago at the Frankfurt motor show; not that you’re likely to, given the extravagant scoops and aerofoils it had.
Now, though, things may have calmed down. The Cooper S Works 210 has clearly been doing well enough for the past 12 months to justify Mini’s decision to make it a permanent addition to the showroom range, and that’s why the firm has just made the car available as a convertible and a five-door, as well as the classic Mini three-door.
It’s an opportune time, then, to find out what this halfway house between the amusing if slightly lukewarm Cooper S and the full-fat yet straight-laced JCW is all about. The car is UK market only and fitted with the key mechanicals that lift it beyond Cooper S spec not at the factory but at the dealer.
Can a makeover like that really result in a meaningful difference to the pace and idiosyncratic flavour of this effervescent little driver’s car? And is it better or worse than the Cooper S or JCW?