THE Mini's reputation as a fun car has never been in doubt, but which Mini provides the most fun?

The answer is surely the John Cooper Works Convertible, which is not only the most powerful production Mini but also comes with a package of lovely touches that make this a flag-bearer for motoring enjoyment.

Drawing on the much-loved British brand's six decades of proud motorsport heritage, it is the sportiest Mini ever, with 231bhp bursting from its 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine.

Drop the roof and life suddenly seems a breeze and there's a surprise in store.

You might think there would be most fun to be gained by pairing it with short-throw manual transmission. But the automatic gearbox is so good, and an ever-so-slightly better performer, that you are left questioning why you would opt for a manual version.

Besides, there are always the paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel if you want to make your own decisions on gear change.

With exterior styling and interior trim that echo the motorsport influence and distinguish the John Cooper Works from the Cooper S, the sports exhaust system delivers a rich and thrilling racing-inspired sound.

The engine was created for the Cooper S, but for the John Cooper Works it features a specially developed turbocharger and direct fuel injection. Large air inlets have been added to the front apron, at the expense of fog lights, to meet the additional cooling requirements of the engine.

The new JCW takes the renowned go-kart agility which has always been a Mini hallmark to an even higher level with a bespoke sports suspension system and exclusive 17-inch light alloy wheels.

The JCW is available in several body colours, including the slightly garish Rebel Green metallic, which is exclusive to this model. Drivers are left in no doubt as to the car's sporting pedigree from the moment they open the door. There are body-hugging sport bucket seats with integrated headrests in fabric or leather.

These are complemented by the leather John Cooper Works multi-function steering wheel and gear selector for automatic transmission, both featuring red stitching, stainless steel pedals and footrest, and an anthracite headliner.

The controls include driving modes switch that allows the driver to vary the accelerator response and engine sound. Standard equipment includes a chrome-plated fuel-filler cap linked to the central locking system, two-way steering column adjustment, air conditioning, heated mirrors and windscreen washer jets, electrically operated front windows, an engine start/stop button, DAB radio, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and cruise control, plus race-tuned sports brakes that endow the car with the stopping power to match its high performance.

The Mini hatch already exhibits class-leading levels of agility and stability thanks to its low centre of gravity, short overhangs, wide stance and rigid body structure, but for the John Cooper Works the single-joint spring strut front axle and multilink rear axle have been completely retuned to give the car an even more thrilling drive.

The unique look of the JCW is the result of practical considerations as much as aesthetics. Enlarged front air intakes and an additional air inlet in the near-side outer area of the front apron where the fog lights would normally be housed have been added for extra cooling. The hexagonal radiator grille has a honeycomb centre and a red blade as well as bearing the John Cooper Works logo. LED headlamps are standard and are surrounded by LED daytime running lights.

The Union flag can be ingrained in the black fabric roof and it also features in the rear lights.

Enjoy the ride and enjoy flying the flag. Mini might be part of the BMW stable but the German company takes great care to protect the Mini's British heritage that is such an integral part of its make-up.


Mini John Cooper Works Convertible

Price: £32,215

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol with Mini TwinPower Turbo technology producing 231bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic  auto

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 6.6 seconds

Economy: 43.5 to 44.1 mpg

CO2 emissions: 148-145 g km


Performance: *****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ***

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****

OVERALL: *****