16.4 L/ 100km
Ever since BMW took over Mini and decided to capitalise the brand name (for reasons that only made sense to the BMW marketing department), there's been a feeling one of the all-time great marques has lost its soul. Too big, too heavy, too fancy, too high-tech, the purists have opined – and in many cases, they've been right. Having spent a fair amount of time in and around classic Minis, my impression of the modern kind was, "I'm in an over-styled BMW." I mean, is a five-door Mini really a Mini?
So the prospect of driving a $54,900 John Cooper Works Mini, with added styling options, didn't set my heart aflutter. Not even knowing it was a convertible helped much.
Before we get to my impression of it, however, let's discuss those options. The JCW comes standard with the Chili and Multimedia Pro equipment packages, which together if bought as options total about $9000. The Chili package includes diamond cloth and leather sports seats, special 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, sat nav and driving modes. Multimedia Pro adds an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with hard drive and voice recognition, 12-speaker sound system, head-up display and digital radio. It also has the JCW package, which encompasses sports suspension, colour-coded side sills, chequers on the interior surface, JCW door sill finishes and stainless steel pedals.
Beyond that, the options list goes on for pages; our test vehicle had about $7000 worth, including a Union Jack embroidered soft top ($900), bonnet stripes ($200), special leather upholstery ($1950), heated seats ($490), and quite a bit besides, for a total list price of $61,790 plus on road costs.
But while you can pretty it up to your heart's content, this is no hairdresser's car. Under the bonnet dwells a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine stoked to produce 170kW/320Nm and it can get the JCW to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.
Drivery types will most likely opt for the manual gearbox, but the six-speed auto is a peach – I never thought much about it, which is always the hallmark of a good cog-shifter, and when I did use the paddles for the sake of this review the changes were more than fast enough. Such is not always guaranteed with Mini; the 'box on its above mentioned five-door is an absolute dog.