The JCW's more aggressively turbocharged version of the Cooper S's 2.0-litre petrol engine remains a strong point, displaying decent throttle response and plenty of low-down urgency before a linear wave of acceleration takes over. Right foot flat, the steering wheel will squirm over uneven asphalt, but torque steer is largely well contained. Our (likely best-selling) manual car's long - at times stiff - shift, though, wasn't the most welcoming.
That said, in Sport mode, the most aggressive of the JCW's three driving modes, you're encouraged to leave longer between shifts, such is the addictiveness of the JCW's bassy howl and the overrun crackle emitted from its model-specific sports pipe. In truth, it feels a little faster than its sprint time suggests.
And it's in Sport mode that the car's throttle is at its most responsive, the steering at its weightiest and our car's optional £375 adaptive dampers at their stiffest. The JCW's steering remains just a touch vague off centre and fairly aggressive in speed and weight just beyond, which together with its tidy body control and good front-end bite delivers trademark Mini agility. Of course, push its nose very hard into bends and the front wheels will gradually squeal and give up by sliding wide slightly sooner than would the JCW hatch's. Lean too hard on its sometimes inconsistent brakes, though, and the Convertible's rear axle will move about in a similar fashion.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the JCW Convertible's ride isn't the most forgiving, at least on our car's larger 18in alloys (a £140 option) with run-flats fitted. Even dialled back in the softer Mid and Green modes it's firm, although never outright uncontrolled, but switching to Sport gives the Convertible's inevitably less rigid body the biggest workout, felt most prominently as vibration through the steering column. Still, relatively speaking, this sportiest of Mini Convertibles is better than both its predecessor and its closest rivals in this respect.
Aside from the column judder, roof down (which takes 18sec at up to around 20mph) the front two occupants are well protected, especially if you're using Mini's optional (£235) wind deflector which, incidentally, renders the rear seats unusable for sitting in. Still, two adults will find it a real squeeze back there, so the back seats are best left for children or bags. The Mini's boot accepts 160 litres with the roof down, which is good enough for two or three soft weekend bags, although there's room for another bag in the 215 litres that are available with the roof up and the divider raised.
The JCW's sports seats provide good adjustment but not quite as much support as you may imagine, although together with its generous steering wheel adjustment most drivers will settle on a positive position. Quality is typical Mini, which is to say there's the odd scratchy surface, but on the whole, the dashboard is solid with enough in the way of gloss and chrome accents to feel genuinely special. Our test car's £1400 BMW iDrive-based 8.8in-screen Media XL infotainment system remains one of the best money can buy.