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Verdict

7.0 / 10

Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing

The Mini reputation is that of charming and fun small cars. That's still the case for 2022, even with a modest update that sees every model gain new exterior styling and a refreshed cabin. This Mini John Cooper Works Convertible, in particular, is the range-topping option and remains the most fun of the bunch, with a punchy powertrain and excellent driving dynamics.

But many Mini models have quietly gotten more expensive over the year; this model starts at $39,750 (with $850 destination fees), which makes it the most expensive vehicle in the class and pricier than better hardtop performers like the Hyundai Veloster N. On top of that, Mini's technology is still finicky and this car isn't exactly the definition of comfort.

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Quick Stats 2022 Mini JCW Convertible
Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output 228 Horsepower / 236 Pound-Feet
Fuel Economy 24 City / 33 Highway / 28 Combined
Base Price $22,900 + $850 Destination
As-Tested Price $45,750

Gallery: 2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible: Review

 

Design

6/10

Mini’s iconic styling remains a fixture in the lineup for 2022, but with a few updates. The roundel headlights get a googly-eyed look thanks to new black inserts, and the grille also wears a glossy black surround. On all JCW models, a red accent line runs horizontally across the fascia, large black vents (for cooling) sit low on the grille, and unique 18-inch Circuit Spoke rims adorn the wheel wells, giving the sportiest model properly aggressive shoes.

The taillights sport a standard Union Jack motif – which is always fun – and the dual exhaust tips meet in the middle, surrounded by a large, glossy black diffuser. Our test car is a convertible, which means a black cloth roof comes standard. But the coupe offers a number of roof styles and colors, including a very cool tri-tone fade treatment that’s brand new for 2022.

As with the exterior, the JCW model maintains that iconic Mini quirkiness inside. The large rounded ring on the center of the dash is illuminated and you can program the lights for different events – it can even serve as a tachometer. In the center of that ring lives a horizontally oriented 8.8-inch touchscreen. There’s a tiny 5.0-inch digital cluster behind the steering wheel, but it looks like a tacked-on aftermarket accessory. And the pop-up head-up display looks a bit cheap, too.

Beyond that, most of the buttons, dials, and materials are high-quality. The extra-long, piano-black shifter for the 8-speed automatic has noticeable heft, the airplane-like switches below the touchscreen feel metallic and deliver a satisfying click, and the leather atop the steering wheel and JCW-specific seats looks and feels great. 

Comfort

5/10
  • Seating Capacity: 4
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 2
  • Cargo Volume: 7.6 / 5.7 Cubic Feet

The JCW-specific sport seats are the highlight of the interior. The side bolsters wrap around the driver perfectly, the shape of the seatback provides hours of support, and the combo of Dinamica (similar to Alcantara) and leather in a quilted pattern creates a high-quality look and feel. And the seats are power-adjustable, which means you should have no trouble finding a perfect position.

Beyond that, the inside of the Cooper JCW Convertible offers little in the way of relief. The back seats are borderline unusable, with just 30.9 inches of legroom. That’s only one inch more than the iconically cramped second row of the Toyota 86 coupe (29.9 inches). And the tiny trunk offers a measly 7.6 cubic feet of space with the top up – barely enough to fit a few bags of groceries – and only 5.7 cubes with the roof stowed.

The car is also loud; wind, tire, and road noise echo through the cabin, even at moderate speeds. There’s also noticeable body flex – not what you want in a performance car. And even with the optional adaptive dampers, the ride is harsh is borderline too harsh even in Comfort mode; the JCW Convertible rattles over minor imperfections and feels stiff around town. 

Technology & Connectivity

5/10
  • Center Display: 8.8-Inch Touchscreen
  • Digital Cluster: 5.0 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: No

An 8.8-inch touchscreen now comes standard across the board for all Cooper models, which represents an upgrade over last year’s 6.5-inch screen. But while size improves, the system’s visuals and overall usability don’t. The graphics look dated, the home screen is jumbled, and touch responsiveness is below average. At least this re-skinned version of iDrive is relatively easy to navigate once you start digging into the options.

Satellite radio, navigation, a head-up display, wireless charging, a Harmon Kardon premium audio system, a heated steering wheel, and Apple CarPlay are all included on this model as part of the expensive $6,000 Iconic trim, which also adds Touchscreen Navigation Plus at no cost (normally a $1,800 option). Android Auto, though, is still disappointingly absent from the range. And the tiny 5.0-inch digital cluster isn’t configurable at all, which is disappointing. 

Performance & Handling

7/10
  • Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L Four-Cylinder
  • Output: 228 Horsepower / 236 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic

Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Mini Cooper JCW has plenty of punch. That engine produces a healthy 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque and is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is the lone gearbox available on the convertible model. Hardtop buyers can choose a six-speed manual. But in both cases, power travels exclusively to the front wheels.

The Mini JCW convertible is hilarious off the line, sprinting to 60 miles per hour in a solid 6.3 seconds while offering gobs of low-end torque, great pull, and a throaty burble from the exhaust. The electronic limited-slip differential keeps the front tires from screeching at the pavement, and the four-piston Brembo brakes up front assure plenty of stopping power when the road ends.

All JCW models feature the same Sport suspension with MacPherson front struts and a multi-link rear, but our car comes with Dynamic Damper Control, which gives it a hyper-responsive ride. With the optional adaptive dampers, flinging the JCW around corners is a delightful affair, even around town and at slower speeds. The convertible is precise and quick, with great feedback to the driver’s fingertips and a weighty steering feel.

But as we already mentioned, the convertible model displays some obvious body flex, more than we were anticipating. That makes the rag top Mini feel less planted than its fixed-roof counterpart. 

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Safety

7/10

The Mini JCW convertible comes standard with the brand’s Active Driving Assistant, which includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and high-beam assist. You still have to pay an extra $750 for the Driver Assistance package, which adds active cruise control and parking assist. Our tester did not have the more advanced equipment, but the relatively basic safety features worked as intended. 

Fuel Economy

6/10

The JCW Convertible achieves 24 miles per gallon city, 33 highway, and 28 combined. In our test, which included lots of time in the city, the JCW Convertible averaged around 25 mpg combined. If you opt for that hardtop model, fuel economy improves by one mpg combined.

Considering the JCW Convertible is the most powerful convertible in its competitive set, it closely rivals the less-powerful Mazda Miata’s 29 combined mpg rating. The fixed-roof-only 2022 Volkswagen GTI achieves 28 combined, the outgoing Honda Civic Type R gets 25 combined, and the Hyundai Veloster N is the least efficient of the bunch, returning just 22 combined. 

Pricing

3/10

For such small cars, modern Minis have huge price tags. This JCW Convertible starts at $39,750 (including $850 destination fees), which makes it pricier than the Mazda Miata ($27,825), Volkswagen GTI ($30,540), and even the Hyundai Veloster N ($33,505). And our tester costs a whopping $45,750 all-in; none of the aforementioned alternatives even come close to $45,000 when fully loaded.

The lone option here is the Iconic package, which Mini technically calls a “trim.” The $6,000 add-on only offers basic features like a heated steering wheel, painted mirror caps, piano black accents, heated front seats, and a premium Harmon Kardon sound system, among others. The thing to consider here is the addition of dynamic damper control, which is only available with this package. They do make a difference in terms of dynamics, but maybe not enough to justify such a steep price.

Beyond that, the Iconic package adds the Touchscreen Navigation Plus feature at no extra cost, which is a $1,800 option on all versions of the JCW Convertible on its own. That adds things like head-up display, Apple CarPlay, navigation, and a few other tech-based features. But, you’d be better off ditching the Iconic trim and selecting the much-cheaper Touchscreen Navigation Plus as a standalone option.

Competitor Reviews:

2022 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible

Engine Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output 228 Horsepower / 236 Pound-Feet
Transmission 8-Speed Automatic
Drive Type Front-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 6.3 Seconds
Maximum speed 149 MPH
Efficiency 24 City / 33 Highway / 28 Combined
Seating Capacity 4
Cargo Volume 7.6 / 5.7 Cubic Feet
Base Price $22,900 + $850 Destination
Trim Base Price $39,750
As-Tested Price $45,750
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