Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

The interior of the JCW has some distinguishing features over other MINIs, including a glossy black interior trim, dark roof lining and red 'H-gate' pattern on the gear knob. The speedometer is marked to 160mph and there is a 'sport' button in front of the gearstick to sharpen both steering and throttle response. Comfort is good for two adults in the front and many features - such as the large central speedometer - help retain elements of the original MINI's character.

The driving position is excellent with a low slung seat and plenty of adjustment.

Passengers fare differently depending on whether the hatchback or Clubman version is chosen. But the rear seats in the convertible are virtually non-existent and only any good for luggage. At least the hatchback is fine for two adults in the front, but two adults in the rear would find longer journeys cramped. The Clubman is rather kinder to those in the back, although anyone coming to a MINI from a larger hot-hatch, such as the Honda Civic Type R or Ford Focus ST might be a little surprised.

Air conditioning is fitted as standard in the JCW (unlike other versions of the MINI prior to January 2009) and when driven gently, the car feels reasonably refined with a fairly smooth ride and low noise intrusion.