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Mini Cooper 2010 Review

What price do you put on a smile? Not just talking monetary value, but also convenience, comfort and safety.

I recently went into a tirade about another manufacturer who released a sports version of their convertible. It just doesn't make any sense. The engine and suspension are just too much for the compromised chassis to deal with. The laws of physics are just against it.

Besides, isn't a convertible all about opening up to the warmth of the sunshine and the smells of the countryside as you amble along a country road? It's not about taking off the top and scorching through so fast you can't see, hear or feel anything except the bodywork shaking, rattling and rolling under duress.

Then I jumped into the Mini JCW (John Cooper Works) Cabrio and my angry-old-man arguments exploded in my face. Here is a car that is way over-powered and over-sprung for its chassis. It should have me turning purple with apoplexy.

Yet somehow I couldn't stop grinning every time I drove it. I even dropped the lid on one occasion and took my wife to the park for a twilight walk and put on a silly sparkly green hat for the photos. A Mini convertible can do that to you. They put a smile on your face, even when everything practical inside you is screaming 'this just doesn't make any sense'.

Appearance and fit-out

Our test came with silly GT stripes, bright chromed eyes like a cutesy bunny rabbit, lairy spokes 17-inch alloys and a chintzy JCW badge on its bum. Inside, there are the usual fiddly toggle switches, the school clock-sized speedo in the centre dash area and impossible-to-read instruments.

The front sport seats are actually quite comfortable and it's not too difficult to get in and out. But there is next to no room in the back and forget about any cargo space. Thankfully the soft top folds down on to the top of the back deck, rather than taking up any more boot space. There are so many accessories and customisation options available, it is possible you can customise it into a unique model.


This one now comes packed with 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that pumps out 155kW of power and 280Nm of twisting torque on overboost. The poor old steering and chassis just can't cope. Plant your foot and it's like trying to wrestle a python. The steering wheel yanks and twists this way and that way while the chassis contorts, making the whole thing shudder and quake.


It's just ridiculous. Yet something inside me wants to giggle like a schoolgirl when it happens. So every time I got into this car I gave it the berries just to wrestle with it. I also discovered that if you suddenly released the throttle when the revs are about 4500rpm, you get a nice exhaust ‘woof’ as the unburnt fuel rolls out the back in a big glob. And with the top down it sounds even better. That's the sort of ludicrous and juvenile behaviour you tend to get up to in this car. And instead of passersby scowling, they look up, smile and wave.

I'd still like a little more give in the suspension. It's just so uncomfortable. I swear you could drive across a manhole cover and read the words imprinted on it. Torque steer, bump steer, scuttle shake, rattle and roll, it's got it all. But it’s still fun. It's no surprise that Hertz calls the Mini convertible as 'The Hawaiian shirt of rental cars'. The JCW version adds GT stripes to that shirt.

Mini John Cooper Works Cabrio

PRICE: from $56,900
ENGINE: 4-cylinder/16 valve, with twin-scroll Turbocharger, 1598cc
POWER: 155Kw @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 260Nm from 1850-5600rpm (280Nm from 2000-5300rpm with overboost)
ACCELERATION: 0-100 km/h in 6.9sec
ECONOMY: 7.1L/100km (combined)
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $14,990 – 15,898 2010 Mini Cabrio 2010 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper Chilli 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,300 – 14,080 2010 Mini Cabrio 2010 Cooper Chilli Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,100 – 16,280 2010 Mini Cabrio 2010 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
Cooper S Chilli 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,100 – 19,910 2010 Mini Cabrio 2010 Cooper S Chilli Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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