Just spent a few days with our Mini JCW, and had an absolute hoot. Quicker and more entertaining than I was expecting (high sticker price notwithstanding), and its flamboyantly handsome good looks had me smiling every time I got in and out.

Had to wonder at times though if the exterior, all black lines, bulging headlamps and bonnet grilles, was just a little OTT.

Did over 200 miles in all, most of it solo, some of it loaded up with shopping and child seat in the back, and only the motorways seemed a bit beyond the Mini’s remit.

Too harsh, too noisy and the windows are too keen to mist up when it’s pouring with rain. Just like Minis should be, I suppose.

The JCW’s motor isn’t monstrously powerful, but what go it has is oh-so easy to get at. That combines with the darty, happy-puppy handling to make for one heck of an accessible performance package.

Around town especially, the JCW encourages a cheerful, thumbs-under-braces boisterousness that would seem aggressive and arrogant in other cars but is perfectly acceptable in this one because, hey, it’s a Mini, it looks groovy and nobody really minds… do they? Probably best not to get too carried away, just in case.