John Cooper Works symbolises the pinnacle in MINI performance
Pros: Pocket rocket performance, razor sharp handling, stands out styling
Cons: Harsh ride quality, expensive options, needs a manual
John Cooper Works symbolises the pinnacle in MINI performance and it is a name to be reckoned with on the road and racetrack. This is the all-new MINI John Cooper Works Hatch and it pushes the envelope further than before, with more power, performance and pizazz than its predecessor. The hot hatchback market is saturated with choice from various brands, but does the MINI John Cooper Works or JCW as it is known, cut it above the rest? We spent a week with it on Irish roads recently to find out.
What is it like?
As the sportiest model in MINI’s Hatch range, the John Cooper Works looks suitably racy from the outside. Compared to the standard MINI hatch, it boasts features such as a large intake on the bonnet to feed the turbocharged engine with air, a huge front splitter and a rear spoiler at the rear. These cosmetic upgrades also play an important role on the race track, adding extra downforce during cornering.
The John Cooper Works Hatch wears badges on the rear boot lid, front grille, quarter panels and rather controversially, it now has union-jack style rear LED lights as a nod to the car’s British Heritage. This JCW is finished in an interesting Rebel Green paint scheme with a red-coloured roof and mirrors, and it also boasts optional 18-inch JCW wheels and bonnet stripes.
The John Cooper Works feels suitably track-focused inside, with a pair of gorgeous body-hugging sports seats, a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and JCW logos dotted throughout the cabin. As the range-topping model in the MINI Hatch range, it’s kitted with all sorts of tech including a touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, wireless smartphone charging and an interior lighting package, while the fit and finish throughout the cabin is very good. It isn’t very practical though, with enough room for two tall adults up front, but limited head and leg room in the two rear seats and a mere 211 litres of space in the boot.
The new MINI John Cooper Works is the most powerful production MINI in history and it has a bigger petrol engine than before. Gone is the 1.6-litre of old in favour of a new 2.0-litre turbocharged unit, which churns out 231 horsepower and 23 percent more torque. Our test car is equipped with an upgraded sports automatic transmission and steering wheel paddles for fast shifts, and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds with a top speed of 246km/h. The MINI JCW feels every bit as fast as it looks, with performance to challenge hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Hyundai i30N.
Various driving modes can be selected via the touch screen infotainment, including a focused ‘Sport’ mode which sharpens throttle response and delivers a raspy exhaust note. The JCW offers reasonable running costs with €270 annual motor tax and 7.5l/100km average fuel economy, though it consumes fuel at a rapid rate when driven with gusto.
The MINI John Cooper Works offers razor sharp handling that few small cars can match. As standard, it boasts upgraded springs, dampers and lots of other upgrades, while our test car is fitted with optional Adaptive Suspension. It corners with absolute precision, and body roll is virtually non-existent with huge ammounts of grip. We drove the MINI JCW on track at Mondello Park and this is where it really shows its strengths, transforming into a track day warrior.
The JCW is incredibly fun to drive in a track setting, and it puts the power down extremely well. The JCW’s focused suspension setup results in hard ride quality on bumpy back roads however, so it isn’t very comfortable on longer journeys.
Prices for the new MINI John Cooper Works Hatch start from €36,760 in base spec. Our test car is equipped with a host of extras to the tune of €10,000 including MINI’s Navigation Plus Pack, which adds Apple CarPlay with Real Time Traffic Information and Concierge Services, along with Visual Boost Radio. This Mini John Cooper Works Hatch also has various other optional extras including Adaptive Suspension, Sports Automatic Transmission, upgraded 18-inch wheels, Park Distance Control, velour floor mats and lots more. As a result, the price tag isn’t so mini after all.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
If you are seeking a fast and focused performance hatch, then the MINI John Cooper Works should be your first port of call. It offers spine tingling performance and sublime handling which is best enjoyed on the race circuit. It demands a premium price tag however and the track-focused setup isn’t always suited to Ireland’s secondary roads. That said, there are few small cars which deliver as much smiles for miles like the latest JCW.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: MINI John Cooper Works 3-Door Hatch
Prices from: €36,370
Price as tested: €46,356
Annual Road Tax: €270
Engine: 1,998cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 246km/h
0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds
Transmission: Sports automatic transmission
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 211 litres
Fiat 500 Abarth
Ford Fiesta ST
MINI Cooper S
Suzuki Swift Sport