From £23,7808
The go-faster Mini John Cooper Works gets the convertible treatment. How does it fare on UK roads?

Our Verdict

Mini John Cooper Works
Mini's John Cooper Works auto is less highly strung than before but quicker than ever

Faster and more rounded than any ‘Works’ Mini before it. Still a committed prospect – to buy and to use – but rewarding to drive

What is it?

The Mini John Cooper Works Convertible is the latest addition to the Mini family, and the sportiest open-top Mini that money can buy.

From the outset, this Mini’s design brief was to build on the huge success of the convertible range and to appeal to those who show affection for fast Minis.

We have already driven the Mini JCW Convertible hard with the roof down on Italian roads, where it didn’t disappoint. So, now to find out whether it can cut it on UK roads. 

What's it like?

The John Cooper Works Convertible features the more powerful version of the Cooper S’ turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. It has gained an extra 39bhp, and is therefore a strong point of the Mini JCW.

The engine has decent throttle response and plenty of low-down grunt before a linear wave of acceleration takes over. Plant your right foot and the JCW Convertible will struggle for traction as the steering wheel squirms in your hands - but easing off the throttle soon solves that problem.

Just like the hatchback version, the JCW Convertible is available with a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual gearbox, the latter as fitted in our test car. The manual is likely to be the best seller, even though it has a long throw and can feel a bit notchy when shifting.

Having said that, if you select Sport mode, which is the most aggressive of the three driving modes, the JCW encourages you to hold onto a gear longer before changing up, allowing you longer to enjoy its glorious overrun crackle.

In Sport mode, as you would expect, the JCW’s throttle response is at its sharpest. Select Normal mode and the throttle feels fairly responsive, but also softer and probably more ideal for everyday use. The steering feels weighty, with the convertible’s tidy body control helping to maintain the Mini’s direct, highly strung handling.

Our JCW Convertible test car came fitted with 18in John Cooper Works Cup alloys as part of the £2400 Chili pack, trimmed with run flat tyres. Those wheels, combined with the firm suspension setup, means the Mini never really feels settled on any asphalt bar the very smoothest. The vibrations pass through the cabin but at no point does it spoil the comfort of the occupants. Over the larger protrusions and potholes, the JCW crashes from one to another, causing a sizeable thud in the cabin, with the biggest ones really catching the hot Mini out.

Up front the Mini’s JCW’s sports seats are comfy and supportive and provide enough adjustment to get settled, while the dashboard is solidly built and accented with gloss and chrome trim to help enhance the interior. Our test car came fitted with BMW’s iDrive-based Media XL infotainment system with an 8.8in screen and Harman Kardon audio that, although costing an extra £1990 altogether, are very decent companions to have.

The rear seats remain best-suited for youngsters, while the boot will offer 215 litres of space with the roof and divider up. Opt for the al fresco experience and the boot space will shrink to 160 litres, which should still be enough room to fit a couple of soft holdalls in the boot.

Should I buy one?

The Mini John Cooper Works Convertible is a very likeable car and provides a more affecting roof-down character than the hatch. However, the JCW hatchback's superior handling dynamism should still draw those most interested in buying a pure driving machine.

Compared to its nearest rivals, the Abarth 595C and the DS 3 Performance Cabriolet, the JCW may be far more expensive but remains a better car to drive and is a proper convertible.

The biggest conundrum for this JCW Convertible is that the Mini Cooper S Convertible ticks many of the required boxes without such a hefty price tag, or sounding quite as purposeful at full chat. However, it accelerates, stops, turns and goes about its business as a convertible in a similar manner, and while the JCW badge will attract numerous buyers, those with one eye on their budget will probably find the Cooper S an equally compelling buy.

Mini John Cooper Works Convertible manual

Where Cowley, Oxfordshire; On sale Now; Price £26,630; Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 228bhp at 5200-6000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1250-4800rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerbweight 1385kg; Top speed 150mph; 0-62mph 6.6sec; Fuel economy 43.5mpg; CO2 rating & BIK tax band 152g/km, 27%

Join the debate

Comments
3

2 June 2016
...only its mother could love that face.

5 June 2016
"allowing you longer to enjoy its glorious overrun crackle."

gives you an extra inch maybe?

There are enough comments on this site stating objection to noisy cars (see the Arab super car article) The use of sport mode and crackly pipes is likely to lose rights. I understand this is a cheating device for EU noise regulations. Pressing the sport button is potentially a section 59 notice, well done that man.

6 June 2016
...on the back of a BMW "Mini", I always think of Jilly Cooper as it plainly has nothing to do with John Cooper or Mini.

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