MINI John Cooper Works Convertible: top-down go-kart style driving

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.

MINI John Cooper Works Convertible
Date Published: 12/12/2016
Great sound, great look, great handling, this thing is everything you want for that twisting turning road - but in a very drivable and comfortable package.
4.5 / 5 stars

Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.

He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.

Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.

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