In the last twelve months I’ve driven a variety of MINI’s from two-seat coupe’s to four-wheel-drive Countryman’s. MINI are consistently progressing forward with the introduction of new models aimed at satisfying existing customers and offering alternative vehicles which will also attract new customers to the brand. All their variants have the MINI key ingredient instilled in them, they possess excellent handling attributes and are genuinely entertaining to drive. One of the fastest mini’s currently on sale, prior to the launch of the MINI JCW GP is this MINI John Cooper Works, JCW for short. It’s got tons of appeal for those looking for a properly fast hatch that rewards the keenest of drivers. I recently had a spin in the MINI JCW on a MINI adventure trip from Dublin to London for the 2012 Olympics. With various MINI models to drive and challenges throughout the route it gave me the perfect opportunity to experience MINI’s on a variety of roads. Back home on Irish roads I recently drove the MINI John Cooper Works for a week-long test drive.
The MINI JCW is distinguished from its various siblings by the addition of JCW specific bodywork. The front houses large air ducts in the front bumper and the familiar bonnet scoop from the Cooper S model. There’s a roof spoiler and two large centre-exit exhausts at the rear, which emit a pleasant burble. The MINI John Cooper Works sits low on lightweight 17” Cross-spoke alloys, behind which sit large 316mm front brake discs, complete with bright red calipers.
At the heart of the JCW is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger, this enables it to produce an impressive 211hp and 260Nm of torque. All of the mini’s power can be experienced throughout the rev range with little or no turbo lag evident, this is as a result of full boost operating between 1,850 and 5,600rpm. This mighty mini is capable of accelerating from a standstill to 100km/h in just 6.5 seconds. The JCW is fitted with an Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), Dynamic Traction Control and Dynamic Stability Control amongst a host of electronic aids, these enable the car to get maximum grip when transferring all of its power through the front wheels to the road. Select Sports mode and the mini’s steering weight is increased, whilst the throttle response is sharpened for a more involved drive. To explore the car’s true potential you have to take to the track where it shows just how capable it is. With a stiff sports suspension and a wheel at every corner the handling is go-kart-like. In terms of the driving experience on offer I would compare it closely to the Renaultsport Clio, which offers similar performance and handling characteristics. Price wise the Clio is slightly less expensive, whilst the MINI has a more quality feel to it. Prices are fairly strong though, the MINI John Cooper Works will cost you from €35,150, which also puts it up against the larger, more practical Volkswagen Golf GTI. In terms of driving thrills it’s a ball of fun and one to watch for in the classifieds, which represent the best value for money.[table “81” not found /]