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.