Phenomenal residual values and all of the fun driving thrills you would expect to find in a convertible. Not as sharply driven as the hatchback and the ride is quite firm. The rear seats are basically useless.
Both the Cooper and the Cooper S come with a 1.6-litre petrol engine. The JCW has a modified engine that gives 211bhp like the one used in the racers. The Mini Hatch is lighter than the convertible but it is still possible to do 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds in Cooper form, 6.9 seconds in the JCW and 7.3 in the Cooper S.
The sharpest is the JCW, aided by the option to select “sport” mode, with a steering wheel that is weighted nicely and a chassis that is responsive. Extremely off-putting is the rigid and firm ride, as well as a slight amount of body shaking.
The seating is low-slung and the aerodynamics are deftly done, making this a warm and comfortable choice for all but the tallest of occupants. Heaters mounted on the dash and a wind-blocker keep you warm and toasty during your ride. There is no noise issue whether the roof position is down or up and the engine can get a little bit noisy when accelerating but not to the extreme.
Resale values will remain good thanks to the desirability, and running costs should be average. Both the Cooper S and the Cooper are very economical, being aided by a gearchange indicator, a stop-start system and brake energy regeneration. When driven hard, the JCW will not live up to its purported 39.8mpg and the Cooper is also pricey.
The interior has fittings and fixtures that are of good quality and that are well built. The JD Power 2012 survey showed that owners of the Mini were happy overall and the car earned an average rating for reliability with its mechanics.
With no roof for support, the body has been stiffened and behind the rear seats are two pop-up hoops. Standard are stability control, ISOFIX fittings for child seats, side and front airbags, automatic seatbelt tensioners and traction control. A differential lock is added in by the JCW.
Tall drivers may find it more difficult to push the seat far enough back, but most drivers should be pleased. The steering wheel is adjustable for both rake and reach. The visibility from the rear is not fantastic, especially when the wind deflector is up and the roof is down. Rear parking sensors help slightly.
Unlike the comfort for any size in the front, rear passengers will have to be small in order to travel comfortably. With the roof up, the rear also seems claustrophobic. The boot is big enough to hold two overnight bags and getting into the boot is made easier by the ability to lift the upper section of the roof cover 35 degrees. For extra space, the rear seats will also fold down.
The standard kit has parking sensors and 15-inch alloy wheels. Cooper S models have run-flat tyres, 16-inch alloy wheels, interior detailing in stainless steel, a bonnet air-scoop, leather-trimmed steering wheel, a sports button for modifying the response of the throttle and sports seats. On the JCW, 17-inch alloy wheels, JCW trimming with the logo and a new speedo.