From £23,780
A blast on the right road in a Mini Roadster JCW will be great in the sunshine, but stripping the roof from the already-skittish coupé makes it even less usable

What is it?

This is the hottest incarnation of the Mini Roadster to date.

All two-wheel drive JCW Minis use the same turbocharged 208bhp 1.6-litre engine, and the Roadster’s the priciest of the lot at £24,755.

It costs a tenner more than the convertible JCW hatch (which offers two more seats, but around half the boot space), and £955 more than the fixed-roofed Coupé with which it shares waist-down construction.

What's it like?

The JCW Coupé’s Achilles heel is its super-stiff ride, and that complaint endures here in the Roadster. True, our test car carried sports suspension (£150, or standard with the Chili pack), but the standard set-up would need to be wildly different to offer anything approaching comfort.

Britain’s characteristically crinkly B-roads set the JCW skipping frantically, making it impossible to happily explore its flat cornering attitude, grippy tyres and the line-maintaining, electronically controlled front differential (standard here, optional on lesser Roadsters).

Urban ridges pound the chassis too, and although reinforcements like the boot-spanning crossmember some built-in flex, the shock can still cajole rattles from the well heeled cabin. Smooth, sweeping A-roads get the best from this car, when the accurate electric steering helps manage rapid, enjoyable progress.

With rising revs, there’s a racy soundtrack from the wonderfully tractable engine (after some brief lag), followed by lift-off pops from the exhaust – both of which are best enjoyed with the semi-automatic roof stowed. On smooth-motorway slogs with the hood up, though, the same helm fidgets endlessly, while wind roar and the engine’s low drone are wearing, too.

The JCW’s upgraded brakes are highly effective and offer reasonable pedal feel.

Should I buy one?

Choose a 181bhp, 47.1mpg Roadster Cooper S with Sport pack (but not sports suspension) instead and those brakes might be all you’ll miss. You’ll get the looks, the electronic traction tricks and most of the performance for two grand less.

A blast on the right road in the sunshine will certainly entertain, but the Roadster's soft top makes the skittish Coupé’s formula even less usable.

Mini John Cooper Works Roadster

Price £24,755; 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 147mph; Economy 38.7mpg; CO2 169g/km; Kerb weight 1260kg; Engine 4-cyls, 1598cc, turbo, petrol; Power 208bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 192lb ft at 1850-5600rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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RichKen 4 October 2012

The wrong suspension set up?

We have Mini JCW Convertable and had it for six months. It is a great fun car, we looked at the Roadster but decided it was more useful for the occasional rear seats than the bigger boot. The fact is the suspension is softer than the Cooper S with standard settings we had before and as a result it is the most comfortable Mini we have had! It has astonishing grip for relatively small wheels and it is never uncomfortable. It has the standard 17" wheels. It averages around 39 MPG unless you give it the beans and when you do it - well it makes you smile! In the end that is what this car is about - sunshine and fun and the fact it makes you smile especially when it pops during gear change.

It has all the options including the media pack which gives a great sat nav and bluetooth music sync from a smart phone, chilli pack and full leather. In then end the other important factor is my wife loves it! I always nick it for a quick spin when I can... and I am still smiling.

PS my last car was a Z4 - that wasn't bad either!


MrNorthToYou 4 October 2012

Oh dear indeed....

As they say "you cant polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter"

Randy Cam 3 October 2012

Oh Dear..

It's here, so were stuck with it. I love Mini, sorry Bini, but on this occasion i'm inclinded to believe the Autocar report. I just can't see the point. But Hey, they'll be a Monster success anyway, and if this is what people want, give 'em what they want! That's what i say.

Benj 4 October 2012

I want a four wheel drive

I want a four wheel drive Coupe. We'll see if they give it to me?