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Expert Review

MINI Convertible Convertible (2008 - 2011) R57 review

Read the MINI Convertible JCW (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

3.8

The MINI Convertible offers all the driving enjoyment of the MINI hatchback with the added extra of open-topped motoring.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickGreat drive
  • tickStrong residuals
  • tickFive-star Euro NCAP rating

At a glance:

How good does it look?

It’s a MINI; and a full-fat, high-octane one at that. While the standard Convertible can look a little feminine, there’s no mistaking the masculine muscle that the JCW packs. That’s rammed home by bespoke black JCW grilles, front and rear bumpers and side skirts. A set of 17-inch cross-spoke alloys hide red brake calipers, emblazoned with JCW livery and a no-nonsense pair of big bore tailpipes poke out of the middle of the rear bumper. Sadly, the roof folds on top of the parcel shelf, so the look is far from sleek top down.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's the interior like?

Most love the MINI’s retro charm, while others find it a little contrived. The speedo unit in the centre of the dash divides opinion at Auto Trader like few others; some find it difficult to read being so low in the dash, while others see no problem. Our advice? Try before you buy. The JCW gets a smattering of tasty trims, including shiny piano black surfaces along the dash, and sporty red graphics on the gear knob. It looks great, although we found roof down glare was often reflected into the face of the occupants.
Expert rating: 4/5

How practical is it?

The 170 litre boot reduces to just 125 litres with the roof folded – enough for a couple of squashy bags, and little more. A handy luggage net that stops small bits sliding around, but you’ll need to be careful loading heavy objects – there’s an 80kg weight-limit on the fold-down tailgate. Fold the roof and you’ll find the view from the rear-view mirror is hampered by the roof, which stows on top of the parcel shelf. There’s a decent amount of space up front, but rear legroom is tight.
Expert rating: 3/5

What's it like to drive?

This is traditional MINI home territory, and the JCW is a hoot. It’s not as accomplished as the hatchback and excellent Clubman, but can still dance between bends. The suspension is firm, but this only becomes an issue on badly scarred roads; although we did encounter a few corners which left the Convertible JCW skipping, rather than cutting, through the bend.
Expert rating: 4/5

How powerful is it?

With 211bhp on tap in such a small package, it comes as no surprise to learn the Convertible JCW is quick. Its 6.9 second 0-62mph dash gives only 0.4s to the hatchback version and won’t stop until it reaches 146mph. Its in-gear performance impresses too, but petrolheads will be particularly entertained by the throaty exhaust note, which pops and crackles under deceleration. A sport button invokes an engine map which produces turbo boost earlier in the rev range, improves throttle and steering response.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much will it cost me?

At more than £23,000, the Convertible JCW is an awful lot of money, especially as the likelihood is buyers will spend a great deal with the dealer customising their car. But despite its rapid performance, running costs are fairly reasonable. Emissions of 169g/km of CO2 shouldn’t break the bank, while MINI quotes average fuel consumption of 39.8mpg. Continued demand for used MINIs means used prices are still strong.
Expert rating: 3/5

How reliable is it?

BMW’s renowned quality is evident throughout the MINI, and we found nothing to give cause for concern.
Expert rating: 4/5

How safe is it?

The standard hatchback MINI scored a maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash test programme, although the Convertible hasn’t been specifically tested. Its roll-over hoops have been redesigned so they don’t restrict rear visibility. A range of acronyms, including ABS, EBD and traction control are also standard, as are Cornering Brake Control and Electronic Differential Lock Control.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much equipment do I get?

The JCW Convertible comes with a range of sporty kit as standard, including a JCW alcantara steering wheel, sports seats, bespoke interior trim, air-con, a unique 160mph speedo, 17-inch cross-spoke alloys, JCW bodykit, bigger brakes and a smattering of JCW badging inside and out. However, at more than £23,000, we’d expect a little more such as climate control; particularly as the bewildering range of cosmetic accessories from the dealer is likely to push the price up further.
Expert rating: 4/5

Why buy?

It’s a MINI. It’s a convertible. And it’s fast and fun. What’s not to like.
Expert rating: 4/5

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