Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page


 



First drive: MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.

First drive: MINI John Cooper Works Convertible
We've driven the ultimate MINI Convertible, the new John Cooper Works version.

   



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> MINI reviews

MINI John Cooper Works Convertible

4 4 4 4 4

Love fast MINIs? Like open-topped cars? Then you're going to love the new range-topping MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. It's powered by the same gutsy turbocharged 2.0-litre engine as the JCW Hatch and isn't very different to drive. With one crucial difference - your ears have unhindered access to the sounds it makes.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: MINI John Cooper Works Convertible manual
Price: 26,630 on-the-road (or 28,205 for the auto)
Engine: turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, four-seat convertible
CO2 emissions: 152g/km (138g/km for the auto)
Combined economy: 43.5mpg (47.9mpg for the auto)
Top speed: 150mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds (6.5 seconds for the auto)
Power: 231hp at 5,200- to 6,000rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,250- to 4,800rpm
Weight: 1,310- to 1,395kg
Luggage capacity: 160- to 215 litres

What's this?

The new range-topping MINI Convertible, called the John Cooper Works - in case you didn't spot the badging front, side, rear and in the revamped cabin... It's powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that makes 231hp and 320Nm of torque. Crucially, the latter is available from as low as 1,250rpm. We tested the standard six-speed manual gearbox, but it's available with a six-speed automatic too for a premium of 1,575. That auto technically makes it more efficient and a fraction faster accelerating. To cope with the performance of the new engine, the JCW Convertible has extra body stiffening, new Brembo brakes and sports suspension.

It's clear that there's been a visual makeover - and we have to say we don't love the look of the exterior, but the interior is more successful, mostly because of the lovely sports seats that are standard, alongside a JCW steering wheel, pedals, sill plates, instruments and gear lever. Surrounding the latter is the driving mode selector, offering Green, Mid and Sport settings, with varying levels of throttle response, power steering assistance and even rev-matching for the manual transmission.

How does it drive?

We're fully aware that most self-titled petrolheads will turn up their noses at the idea of a MINI Convertible that purports to be a hot hatch without a roof, but the John Cooper Works car is a well-sorted machine and lots of fun to drive. Without testing it back-to-back with the hard-top JCW model it's all but impossible to determine if its responses are dulled. By any measure, this car is agile, stable, fast and, importantly, a real hoot.

The scene is set by direct steering that offers up adequate communication with the front tyres, though your first clue as to the (very high) limits of grip is often a little tyre squeal. Even so, the JCW Convertible doesn't easily relinquish front-end grip and when it does it's a gradual process, allowing you rein things in by modulating the throttle. The rear is utterly planted seemingly no matter how ham-fisted you are with mid-corner adjustments. And yet, in spite of that, it's still highly engaging. The wide track and firm suspension conspire to give the Convertible plenty of poise, meaning that, in the dry at least, cornering speeds are high. You can't help but enjoy it. While the sports suspension is far from uncomfortable, we reckon a smart move might be to stick with the standard 17-inch alloys to give the best compromise. The higher profile tyres should offer up more feedback through the steering too.

This is as per the MINI JCW Hatch of course, as is the slick six-speed manual gearbox. We'd still like for reverse and first to be more clearly separated and for the throw across the gate to be shorter, but once you're used to it, these reservations fade away into the background. The rev-matching works well and those that like to heel-and-toe for themselves can beat the system to the punch if they want. Oddly, in spite of a Brembo-branded upgrade, the brakes were the least impressive part of the package, with inconsistent feel through the pedal and more force required than would be been expected.

There's nothing wrong with the feel or response from the throttle pedal though. This 2.0-litre engine punches hard from just above idle around to a pleasingly 'soft' rev limiter. It's very difficult to catch it out thanks to notably fast spooling up of the turbocharger, and while we never felt the Cooper S Convertible was lacking performance, the JCW specification certainly lifts it a notch or two. And that engine sounds exciting too, more so than most modern four-cylinder units, with its own distinctive noise. Convertible buyers get to hear that more, naturally, and the popping and burbling on the overrun is hilarious, especially in Sport mode. Reason enough for some to go for the Convertible version, we reckon.

Verdict

Taken in isolation, it's difficult not to love driving the new MINI JCW Convertible. The engine and exhaust note alone make it an absolute blast, but the chassis is more than capable of using all the power and painting a smile on the driver's face. Admittedly, the Cooper S Convertible isn't very far behind on the fun factor, and usefully less expensive to buy, but for those that want the ultimate open-topped MINI there will be no substitute for the John Cooper Works.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 4 May 2016



  www.mini.co.uk    - MINI road tests
- MINI news
- Convertible images

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.



2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 

2016 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible. Image by Richard Newton.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Old motor show reports | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2024 ©