At $57,340 there’s certainly a whole lot of other cars you could buy for your money – but would they offer you the same zip and turn as the John Cooper Works MINI Convertible? I think not.
Around the base of the gear stick is a twist and turn vehicle dynamics control. To the right a couple of times you’re in ECO mode. This then shows a useful + or – indicator as to how efficient you’ve been driving compared to standard mode. And it guides you through your suggested gear-changes etc.
But the real joy comes from two flicks to the left. Sport mode. The large infotainment screen glows with a red-ring around it and the indication on-screen is that this mode will give you a go-kart like feel to the handling.
And it’s not wrong. The joy of a car so close to the ground, with such a short wheelbase and relatively narrow track is the direct feeling of the drive.
Through John Cooper Works (JCW) tuning and dynamics, the thing feels amazing. Throw it into a corner, no problem, and perhaps adding more joy is the sound. The burble and blip of the engine as you come down through the gears is something akin to a high-end sports car which starts to give context to the price tag you’re paying here.
On the model we drove we had added bonnet stripes, a Piano Black interior, seat heating and control package (Forward collision alert, high beam assist, active cruise control plus tyre monitoring and LED headlights with adaptive cornering) which added just $2,440 to the $54,900 Manufacturers list price.
As standard for the list price you’re getting the stunning 18 inch wheels, an auto transmission (upgrade to the Manual for no-cost folks, it’s a bloody great gearbox), Digital Radio, 12 speaker Harman/Kardon Hi-Fi, Head-up display, JCW sports seats and interior content, the 8.8 inch infotainment system, park assist, reversing camera (great quality) and more.
This little 2 litre 4-cylinder is pushing out 170kW and 320Nm torque with a fuel economy at a claimed 6.2l/100.
On the road in traffic, feels like a nice low sports car with body hugging seats and an easy drive. As the twists and turns open up it turns into a smile factory. I haven’t enjoyed a manual car this much in a long long time.
The convertible roof takes away some boot space, but let’s be honest, boot space was never a big thing for the MINI anyway. My only real gripe about the car was the obstruction that the folded down roof became – taking up half my rear-view mirror when down.
Other than that, this is a cracking little motor. With the front grill and bumper styling paired with the relatively enormous wheels, plus the engine note and corner handling – it’s a winner, no doubt.