As a hot hatch, the MINI Cooper S is one of the best available out there.
As a teenager without a driver’s license, the closest thing I could do was get behind the wheel of a go-cart. Those were the days and now, as actual adults, most of us are stuck behind the wheel of something far less engaging or fun that prioritizes fuel economy and/ cargo capacity. Enter the 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible, which throws away all rational thought and makes up for it with looks and charm.
For the 2022, MINI added some changes to the fascia to give the cheerful little car a more aggressive look and allow for better cooling capabilities. A new rear diffuser makes the back look wider and more hunkered down. Union Jack taillights are present and lighting has been upgraded to LEDs all around. Last year’s model looks “cute” in comparison so right off the bat, this is a win. Our tester has been optioned with the eye popping Zesty Yellow ($590) and 18-inch JCW Circuit Spoke two-tone wheels. Drop the roof and prepare to catch looks everywhere.
Enjoying the sun in the 2022 John Cooper Works Convertible is easy, and there are a couple of options here. The roof can be partially opened for a sunroof experience, or dropped all the way for vitamin D from all directions. The roof operates smoothly however, it does not disappear into the trunk away from sight. It layers up behind the rear seats and blocks a good chunk of the view in the rear view mirror. Without the standard rear camera, reversing into a parking spot safely would be a challenge.
Inside, don’t expect any changes from the prior model year. The infotainment system remains the same and would be considered acceptable. Everything is clear from the driver’s perspective and needs a short amount of time to get used to the various menus and digging to achieve your objective. Things like Apple CarPlay are equipped, but the system still remains a bit clunkier than standard BMW iDrive. Considering the price point of the John Cooper Works MINIs, some may expect a higher level of materials used within the interior.
Where the 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible excels is in its ability to put a smile on the driver’s face, and looking forward to getting behind the wheel at every opportunity. With its relatively compact size and low center of gravity, it competes with the Mazda MX-5 as a street legal go-kart. Even with the MINI being front wheel drive, what they have managed to accomplish is downright magical. The chassis is up to the task and remains quite composed even with the roof down. Throwing the car into turns and weaving through urban traffic is what this car was built for.
While some have complained about a stiff and harsh ride while in Sport mode, I never found it to be an issue. Yes, it won’t be considered as plush as a Toyota Camry but it doesn’t even come close to the brutal ride when in “N” mode on a Hyundai Veloster N. The MINI is firm in all of the right ways, reminding you with every road imperfection that its main priority is fun.
The front wheels will scramble to gain traction but when they do, the John Cooper Works propels from 0-100km/h in around 6.5 seconds. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. Torque steer is minimal and well controlled thanks to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Of course, we’d love to see a manual gearbox here, but alas, the typical buying public has spoken, and the convertible model is only available with two pedals.
With this being a John Cooper Works model, the exhaust exhibits a light burble that is lacking from lesser models. Flick it into Sport mode and you will get a few “pops” from the exhaust that add to its charm and personality. It’s nowhere near as obnoxious as a Hyundai Veloster N yet not as silent as a Honda Civic Type R.
Fuel economy is a very reasonable 9.4L/100km in the city and 7.1L/100km on the highway. In combined driving, we achieved 8.3L/100km, which isn’t far from the official figure of 8.1. This was on premium 91-octane fuel, with the top down most of the time, and liberal use of Sport mode with every opportunity.
A base MINI starts at $31,090. Choose the John Cooper Works model and this immediately bumps the sticker to $43,640. It’s far from affordable, but there is a high level of customizability available here, which is something that MINI buyers ask for. A $7,300 Premier Plus package and several smaller options checked off bring our test vehicle to a sticker of $56,530 – ouch.
As a hot hatch, the MINI Cooper S is one of the best available out there. The improvements made over the last several years, and better quality have put it high on the recommendation list. The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Convertible adds to this dose of fun and quirkiness. Yes, the price exceeds that of its immediate competition but if you have disposable income, need a convertible and something reasonable at the pumps, this car has your name written all over it.