The Mini Convertible has been a huge success, proving so popular that it was actually one of the UK’s best-selling open-tops in its previous form. We’ve recently driven – and been impressed by – Mini’s latest three-cylinder Convertible Cooper, but here we drive the fastest and most expensive version, the John Cooper Works.
It gets the same 228bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the JCW hatchback, together with unique suspension settings, bigger, more powerful Brembo brakes and larger ducts for improved engine cooling. The JCW Convertible is therefore no sloutch – the manual version can crack 0-62mph in 6.6sec and carry on to 150mph.
At 1310kg dry (DIN, or 1385 on the EC measurement), the JCW Convertible isn’t the featherweight the ‘MINI’ badge suggests, but it never seems to struggle with its array of over-driven cogs. It’s 35kg heavier than the Cooper S Convertible, mainly through strengthening and cooling demands, but it’s also 24mm longer because it has a new, more aggressive nose.
Yet we can’t help but feel that Mini’s Cooper S Convertible will fulfil much of what the JCW is trying to do for less money. Sure, it doesn’t sound quite as purposeful at full chat, but it accelerates, stops, turns and goes about its business as a convertible with similar aplomb. For many, the prowess of the JCW badge will be enough, but those with an eye on their budget will probably find better value there.