Mini John Cooper Works
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Mini John Cooper Works overall verdict
Where are you now, estate agents?
The ultimate Mini with pretty close to ultimate performance. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay the ultimate price to get one. Well, not the ultimate price, but it is quite expensive
The JCW’s suspension remains the same as the standard Cooper S, which means a passably pliant ride that won’t shake your eyeballs from their sockets. Unless you spec the optional, seriously hard JCW handling kit, in which case we’re talking eyeball-escape time.
Quick. Very quick. The JCW gets a revised version of the Cooper S’s 1.6-litre turbo engine with more turbo boost and an all-new exhaust system. That means a sizeable 208bhp and a 0-60mph time of 6.8 seconds, making this the quickest Mini ever. It feels it, too – there’s a massive thump of mid-range torque and almost no turbo lag.
A bit too badged-up and bodykitted to be properly cool, but there’s something inherently cool about a Mini that’ll whip anything shy of a Maser GranTurismo off the lights.
No aftermarket stick-on tat here: Mini has brought the JCW firm in-house (think BMW M-division), so all the additional bits feel properly integrated. BMW build quality means there’s nothing to fear mechanically, either.
A massive laugh to drive. The JCW gets an ‘electronic differential lock system’ – essentially an electronic diff that redistributes torque across the front wheels – which means there’s mountains of grip and traction, even when conditions are a bit slippy. OK, there’s a touch of torque steer, but no more than you’d expect from a front-wheel drive hot hatch like this. Overall, though, the JCW is one of the best-driving hot hatches around.
Just as cramped inside as any other Mini, but somehow in a performance version it doesn’t seem to matter so much.
Expensive to buy, especially once you start adding options like bucket seats. Minis always retain their value well, though, and the relative rarity of the JCW should be good news come resale time. Emissions and economy remain respectable against the JCW’s naturally-aspirated rivals.
More Mini John Cooper Works cars we've driven...
- Mini John Cooper Works Championship 50
- March 2010
- February 2008