Mini Mini John Cooper Works
Distinctive hot John Cooper Works Mini certainly looks the part
- JCW styling is subtle but distinctive
- Ride and handling is more polished than expected
- Cabin quality is much improved
- Hot JCW-spec engine is both efficient and powerful
- Easy to spend a lot on extras
- Changes to minor switchgear dilute the Mini's USP
- Over-firm ride on urban roads
- Despite size increase, rear seat access remains a tight squeeze
Mini as a brand is famed for its jolly marketing campaigns and fluffy lifestyle approach to motoring. However, Mini is deadly serious about its John Cooper Works performance sub-brand, and this latest JCW hatch is all the proof you need.
In a bid to seriously challenge more conventional hot hatch models, the Mini JCW is the most powerful the firm has built to date. It has adopted the BMW Group 2.0-litre turbo motor, and buyers can choose between manual or auto gearboxes
Boasting 228bhp and a 6.1 second zero to 62mph sprint time, this Mini JCW is no slouch. The numbers are backed up by a raft of engineering tweaks, such as uprated suspension and steering, a trick powertrain that can handle the considerable power and JCW-specific driving modes
And when you want to drive more slowly you can relax in the premium cabin. There are JCW cues everywhere, from the front sports seat to the badging and chunky sports steering wheel, making it very easy to distinguish from the standard car.
Being a Mini, personalisation is a big deal, be it colour or decals and cabin trim. The infotainment system is also impressive, and you can opt for full integration with your smartphone for access to various online services
Our verdict on the Mini Mini John Cooper Works
The latest three-door Mini is a solid performer, and this hot JCW variant ensures that keen drivers are well served in terms of performance and ability. From the pops and crackles of the exhaust to the relentless acceleration, this model is anything but a cynical marketing exercise.
Despite the focus on improving efficiency, the JCW is not be a cheap car to run. The ample performance will no doubt result in a higher insurance premium and fuel bill, although servicing should still be manageable.
Space and practicality
With the arrival of this generation of Mini came an increase in cabin space. It's most noticeable up front as two adults can sit in improved comfort, while the boot is now more spacious. There are numerous oddment storage areas in the cabin but it's still a squeeze to get in the back.
Controls and display
The cabin redesign includes a new infotainment display and changes to the minor controls. The former ensures a more enjoyable user experience thanks to the redesigned controls and large, bright display. The latter includes a convenient ignition toggle switch and the relocation of the window switches to the doors. In JCW guise, switching between driving modes triggers different backlighting hues for added appeal.
In high performance guise, the seats are also more comfortable and supportive than before, and refinement has also improved. However, while cabin space has been increased it's still an effort to access the rear seats, and the trade off for the firm ride is an occasionally bumpy ride around town.
The Mini's security has been improved with the inclusion of keyless ignition, meaning the starter toggle can be used in lieu of rummaging for the key in a pocket or bag. Elsewhere, the glovebox is a good size and the boot boasts a sturdy load cover.
Aside from the usual tally of airbags and electronic stability systems, higher value features are starting to appear as they trickle down from the larger, more expensive BMW products such as active cruise control, a head up display and collision avoidance technology.
In hot John Cooper Works guise this latest variant is a genuine revival for some of the more conventional hot hatches on the market. Power is more than ample, while grip is aided by some trick suspension and transmissions settings. Accurate steering, a selection of driving modes and a progressive stability system should please keen drivers. The rapid-shifting auto gearbox is easily the best option, too.
Family car appeal
Unless the Mini JCW will be a second car in the family, a slower five-door model or even the hugely popular and larger Countryman would be the better choice due to more doors and space respectively.
First car appeal
A regular Mini is an ideal choice for a novice driver, but this faster, more aggressively tuned JCW is probably not the best option. It is expensive to buy and run, too.
Quality and image
The high degree of personalisation allows buyers to create a car that feels individual, which is a major attraction. Quality has improved significantly for this generation, and this new Mini feels more robust than before. In hot JCW guise the car is often compared favourably alongside regular hot hatches.
Front seat occupants will have no trouble getting in, thanks to the long doors which open to a wide aperture. Rear seat passengers have less space to enter through, but there is still sufficient access for most. Access to the boot is easy, with a low loading sill.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The basic package of radio, music player and mobile phone connectivity works well. The car's oversize main dial now houses the infotainment display, enhancing the overall experience. The Mini's main control device has also been improved and is now much more like an improved version of BMW's i-drive system.
Colours and trim
Both bright and more sombre colours work well here, and can be enhanced with a range of optional trim and decal packages at extra cost. The cabin is a little more sombre thanks to the dominant dark plastics, although LED mood lighting and bright trim accents boost the ambience, alongside bespoke JCW trim elements.
The Mini's size is a big help when parking and the power steering makes it easy to squeeze into smaller gaps. Parking sensors and, where fitted, reversing camera make life easier. The view through the rear is slightly restricted by the pillars, but it is easy to judge the extremities of the car with practice.
A mobility kit is fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (102); 1.5-litre (136bhp), 2.0-litre (192bhp, 228bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.5-litre (95bhp, 116bhp); 2.0-litre (170bhp). Transmissions: six-speed manual and six-speed automatic. Trim levels: One, One D, Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S, Cooper SD, John Cooper Works.
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