There is something simply magical about driving a convertible across the country. Going west with nothing but a windshield in front of you and the world is an experience we should all endeavor to have in our lifetime. I got the chance recently with the longest leg of MINI Takes the States. Dodge City to Denver in almost 600 miles. My transportation was a brand new 2010 MINI JCW Convertible. Yes, the most expensive MINI and the one many enthusiasts love to hate completely warmed my heart and ultimately won me over.
But this isn’t a love story about a convertible. I started out with all the typical reasons why this particular JCW was all wrong. The wrong suspension (completely stock of course) and the wrong spec (pretty much bone stock) along with the wrong price (a hair over $38,000) made this the last MINI I’d ever consider purchasing myself. Yet for all that has been said about pricing and suspension issues, I can’t remember a better day spent in a car.
First let’s start with the act of traveling in a MINI Convertible. With two people and luggage it can require inventive packing. You know your possessions will be in the elements and buffeted by the wind as much as you are. Rain, sun it’s all potentially part of the trip and it’s going to affect you. It’s this connection to the world outside your car that makes the trip so much different than anything outside of a motorcycle ride. There’s an element of less safety (I wouldn’t call it danger) and the feeling of greater raw speed.
The current JCW has the best soundtrack of any factory MINI ever produced. Sure the supercharger wine was great and the pops from the 2005-2006 MCS made for good personality. But the JCW has a sound that feels honed to be more broad shouldered and aggressive. It’s an engine that was developed for the track first (remember this essentially the JCW Challenge race car engine) and then refined just enough for street use.
And there’s that sound. The lift off pop and burble is the most addicting noise ever to come out of a factory MINI. It sounds downright naughty.
Then the throttle response. There doesn’t seem to be a moment in the rev range that doesn’t deliver power and speed immediately.
Now combine this with the open top and an endless road and you have an epic road trip in car that begs for more and more.
Nothing is perfect and the JCW convertible comes with a list that speaks to that. The stock suspension on this car is nothing less than a mistake. It flies in the face of the attitude that the engine and brakes exude.
The second is the price. $38,000 with just a few options isn’t hard to swallow when I think of the fun I had on this trip. But it is when I think of what that could get me elsewhere in the form of a daily driver.
But this is a MINI so they say. And the argument for the MINI goes something like this; ‘there’s nothing quite like the feel, the sound and the package at any price.’ But you really have to love the idea of the MINI to write the $38,000 check for o. Do I? Do you? This is where the question gets pretty personal.
I will never forget the miles I put on this car. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I may never again. Forget all the criticisms. This JCW convertible was perfect and I loved every minute I had with it. I’m not sure if that makes it worth the money but the memories may turn out to be priceless.