It takes about as long to say Mini John Cooper Works Convertible as this latest-gen drop-top needs to sprint from standstill to 100km/h – 6.1 seconds exactly.
Of course it was only a matter of time before we saw the fastest version of the new F56-generation Mini go topless and wild. The fully electric rag-top can drop in 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 30km/h, though the mechanism still sits awkwardly on the top of the tail-gate.
Alternatively a 40cm-long front section of the roof can slide open at any speed, just like a sunroof, but that would wrinkle-up the (thankfully optional) Union Jack printed on the fabric lid.
The JCW Convertible uses the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo as the JCW hard-top that retails locally for $47,400 plus on-road costs. Outputs are likewise identical – 170kW between 5200rpm and 6000rpm; 320Nm between 1250rpm and 4800rpm – and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions are available.
Whipping the top off the Mini also means adding kilograms, however. In addition to the weight of the electric roof mechanism, there’s extra bracing to maintain body rigidity and twin high-strength aluminium bars that trigger within 150 milliseconds to protect occupants in a rollover.
The Convertible consequently stacks on 102kg compared with the three-door hard-top, with a kerb weight of 1309kg. As a result, the auto is four-tenths slower to 100km/h (6.1sec) while the manual is three-tenths behind its equivalent (6.3sec).
For toupee-wearers living on the edge, top speed is reduced only slightly from 246km/h to 242km/h.
The JCW models otherwise share specification including exterior dimensions, standard 17-inch alloy wheels (optional 18s), sports suspension (adaptive optional) and Brembo brakes.
The interior shares the latest Mini’s premium feel, four-seat capability and 215-litre boot capacity (except with a tail-gate that flips down like a ute). The Convertible also uniquely adds a ‘rain warning function’ as part of its internet connectivity – when weather warnings are issued on the roads ahead, a text message is sent to the driver’s smartphone suggesting they should close the lid.
The latest JCW hatchback dropped $3000 in price compared with the previous generation, and the JCW Convertible is expected to likewise drop digits when it arrives locally in the second half of 2016.
Expect a $5K premium for the roofless version, making it a $52K-plus proposition and a smaller, faster, sportier alternative to Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series drop-tops.
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