Mini Convertible JCW Sport, an extrovert aging with style

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Bring me some sun: Mini’s JCW Sport convertible is an aging extrovert with style

Future Minis may take very different forms, but the heritage-tinted John Cooper Works Sport Mini Convertible is all about the wit and verve of youth – regardless of the driver’s age.

The convertible conveys an eternally young vibe, a carefree mode of transport for the confident motorist. The John Cooper Works Sport Mini Convertible is the modern equivalent of a 1960s sports car, a car that symbolizes wit and verve. Yet despite its youthful image, it is surprising to find that modern Mini buyers are in fact older than other BMW Group brands, BMW and Rolls-Royce.

While the latter has seen the average age of its owners plummet due to the explosion of wealth in new markets like China, Minis tend to be favored by older drivers keen to regain their spirit. their youth. While there was also a retro-modern component to the success of the modern Mini, the brand feels a bit adrift in the fast-paced auto industry.

For many years, BMW has made its main brand the main source of innovation within the group. Now things are starting to change and Mini is taking bolder steps with design and technology. Under Oliver Heilmer’s design direction, recent Mini Concepts abandoned the heritage-tinged forms that shaped the company’s key products after its rebirth in 2001.

First there was the Mini Vision Next 100, presented in 2016, and now there is also a fully functional version of the Mini Vision Urbanaut, a one-piece ‘mobile room’ shown at this year’s IAA Mobility Munich trade fair. Both are radical design departures from the Minis of yore, emphasizing internal space over the exterior form while conveying a sense of compact play. Paul Smith’s recent reinterpretation of the electric Mini One, the Mini Strip, has taken a different twist, bringing a standard car down to its bare minimum and thus creating a new aesthetic simplicity.

The Concept Mini Vision Urbanaut 2021, the shape of things to come?

Mini Strip, by Paul Smith, bringing the car down to the bare minimum

This is all very exciting, but we have to be patient. Technology for Vision cars has yet to enter mainstream, while Smith’s elegantly minimal approach falls short of tedious things like safety legislation. Maybe the future lies somewhere in between?

For now, Mini continues with its ever popular base line, even if things are starting to look a bit dated. The company’s only electric vehicle, the new Mini Electric, makes few aesthetic concessions to innovation, while its popular plug-in hybrid, the Countryman, still doesn’t live up to its ‘Mini’ name, as it is. basically a mid-size SUV.

The John Cooper Works Sport convertible is the rowdiest version of the open-top Mini, a spirited 231bhp driving machine that retains the brand’s signature precise steering and handling. John Cooper Works (JWC) was the racing team and tuning specialist who built the original 1960s Mini Cooper, the ultimate pocket performer. Today’s Mini is a monster compared to Sir Alec Issigonis’ original. Since the 2001 relaunch, the car has gone through three generations, gradually growing in size, losing its proportional balance, especially in profile.

The conversion to a canvas-roofed convertible is accomplished with admirable simplicity, and the end result is a relatively rare, compact, four-seater open car. Power is gasoline-only, with twin turbos providing the zipper and tight-fitting steering accentuating the feeling of compactness and agility. Like all droptops, this is a machine for extroverts, although some details haven’t aged as well – the prominent but stylized Union Jack patterns on the lights, for example.

The fourth-generation Mini is only 18 months away, but as is the case with all contemporary automobiles, it will inevitably undergo a change of character. As perhaps the last Mini to run on gasoline, there’s no point in making massive changes under the hood. Instead, it will be joined by a purely electric version – possibly built in China – which will feature slightly different dimensions. Overall, however, it will still be immediately recognizable as a modern Mini.

The market for high-end city cars looks set to grow, but in reality, the low profit margin of compact vehicles is having the opposite effect. Mini has thrived in large part thanks to the huge array of customization options that have found favor with buyers looking to make an impact, so that is unlikely to change. The revolution will likely come elsewhere in the lineup, with the slippery diamond-shaped Urbanaut concept offering a tempting glimpse into what this longtime brand could be. Just as the 1959 original reshaped the idea of ​​the compact car, Mini is once again on the verge of something new. §


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