MINI John Cooper

Works Convertible -

First Drive

MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, side, roof down
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, side, roof up
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, side
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, front, roof up
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, rear, roof down
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, Union Jack roof
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, rear seats
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, interior
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, head rest
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, cockpit
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, roof, folded
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, rollover protection
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, boot
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, badge
MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, sill

A GOOD convertible has to be hot and that's something MINI has not overlooked with its latest offering.

Fired up to deliver 231 horsepower from its twin turbo 2.0-litre engine the second generation John Cooper Works Convertible sits at the top of the MINI open-top tree.

Priced from £26,630 - or £28,205 for the even quicker six-speed automatic - it's a drop-top dressed to thrill and includes a patriotic touch as a distinctive option.

For an extra £490 the new JCW Convertible can be decked out with a Union Jack pattern woven into the fabric hood in keeping with the same design that is such a hit on the MINI hatchbacks.

The roof itself takes just 18 seconds to fold away - all done almost silently by an electric motor which can operate at speeds approaching 20mph.

And if the full wind-in-the-hair experience is not required, the roof can be opened partially, sliding back up to 16 inches at any speed.

Roof down and the new MINI Convertible really looks the part with much cleaner body lines than its predecessor thanks to integral roll over protection points which no longer protrude above the cockpit.

Additional air intakes, a honeycomb grille, a pair of exhausts mounted in the centre of the rear diffuser and red flashes subtly included around the body to catch the eye distinguish the JCW from the regular MINI Coopers as does uprated suspension, bespoke badges and sill plates and Brembo brake callipers peering from inside the alloy wheels.

It looks potent and it is. The automatic version shaves a whole 0.1 of a second off the 0 to 60 acceleration time at 6.5 seconds and it's good for a maximum of 150mph while emitting a purposeful roar as it goes through its paces.

It's nimble, agile and very responsive - simply great fun to drive, flicking through the gears via rapid-fire paddle shifters if wanted.

Bluster inside is well suppressed and with the roof up noise levels are acceptably low.

Although a four seater, the JCW Convertible is as tight in the back as any other drop-top MINI and the rear seatbacks are very upright.

Boot space ranges from 160 to 215 litres and although on the small side, the boot lid opens downwards and the height of the luggage compartment can be raised at the pull of a lever to accommodate larger objects.

As small, four seat convertibles fare it's on the practical side and with some thoughtful planning and making use of the back seat it is good enough for touring for two.

Inside, the JCW Convertible is nicely decked out with leather sports seats complete with their own Union Jack pattern on the back of the head restraints.

The air conditioning has a special mode for open top operation and comfort levels are high. Add on MINI's connectivity and navigation systems and the car even comes with its own weather warning system which can suggest a suitable location to pull over and put up the roof should a shower be threatening to spoil the fun.

The auto box may be the more expensive option but it's smooth and sporty to drive and also features stop/start as well as a multi-mode drive system to get the best out of the car at both ends of the scale.

In sport settings the JCW is definitely hot property but remains nice and easy to drive, yet in eco mode it's very fuel efficient with MINI claiming an official return of 47.9mpg with emissions of 138g/km.

Real world figures are likely to be closer to 30 to the gallon, especially if you're out to experience the finer points of the JCW.

Other options included a head up display, heated front seats and MINI's Rebel Green paint finish which is available only on JCW cars.

Combined with the enhanced sat nav and connectivity systems it took the price of this particular version of MINI's flagship convertible up to £34,860 - almost twice that of a basic MINI Cooper Convertible but a reflection of the technology that lurks within the John Cooper Works.

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