John Cooper Works
cracking or MINI
overkill? The new MINI Coupe
John Cooper Works that hardly
SO WHAT'S NOT A SURPRISE? That the John Cooper Works version of MINI's
new Coupe is a genuine 'pocket-rocket'. But what is surprising
is that you don't need very deep pockets to put one on your drive
just £23,795. However you cut it, that's not a lot of cash for a 150mph
But therein lies the catch: because it's a MINI the showroom price is just the
starting point. To be fair, my press car was specced up to highlight numerous
extra-cost kit on offer to every customer purchasing a new MINI.
In fact my road test JCW Coupe was carrying almost £6K's worth of optional equipment
from the must-have and very popular Chili Pack, leather upholstery,
heated sports-style front seats, sports suspension, on-board computer, chrome
line interior, upgraded hi-fi, JCW leather fascia, black 17-inch alloys and
a Media Pack (SatNav with its screen sited in the centre of the dinner plate-sized
central speedometer plus full Bluetooth preparation). Clearly the price of one
of these pocket-rockets can shoot up as quickly as it can get to 62mph: from
£0-£6,000 in 6.4 seconds.
That said, there is something that MINI doesn't charge for: body stripes.There's
no charge if you have them; and no charge if you don't!
My silver test JCW came with a black roof with silver stripes and black stripes
on the body. Given the eye-catching looks and all the 'go-faster' dressing,
I expected lots of attention from other road users and pedestrians.
What the JCW Coupe does have is real pace for
making fast and safe progress on twisting roads. Although firm, the
sports suspension did a good job of absorbing poorer road surfaces and
delivered superb balance and a flat ride through fast bends...
Amazingly, this simply wasn't the case. Not even my car-mad neighbours, who
usually call round to give my road test cars a quick 'once over', showed up.
In fact the overall reaction to it, wherever it went or was parked, was one
of indifference. Perhaps, with all these additional new MINI models
five to date and two more still to come we have finally reached
Drop into the driver's seat and you'll be immersed in a sporty, high quality
retro look and feel cabin. The sports seats are supportive and comfortable and
for two people the Coupe is quite roomy. The rear contains a reasonably large
and deep boot that will be appreciated by golfers. Unfortunately, as on all
MINIs, the control and switchgear ergonomics remain flawed they're
small, scattered around the fascia, and not that easy to use.
The cabin roof has neat, twin-sculptured domes that create a bit more headroom
for taller passengers. However, the rear and rear-quarter visibility is really
poor and there's no rear wiper so visibility is even worse in the rain.
Under the striped-up bonnet, a 208bhp, turbocharged, direct injection 1.6-litre
petrol unit delivers impressive pace with equally impressive flexibility thanks
to 192lb ft of torque from 1,850rpm. A close-ratio six-speed manual 'box is
fitted; it's fast and slick to use, and matches the engine's character really
well. Fast, fun driving is there whenever needed yet it remains very flexible
in slower-moving traffic. Officially it will do 39.8mpg in the combined cycle;
covering most types of use, my test car averaged 36.3mpg.
What the JCW Coupe does have is real pace for making fast and safe progress
on twisting roads. Although firm, the sports suspension did a good job of absorbing
poorer road surfaces and delivered superb balance and a flat ride through fast
bends. Cornering grip is huge which, combined with very sharp steering responses,
makes it a hugely rewarding car to drive.
While a top speed of 149mph looks good on paper, where it counts is at 70mph
to the JCW this is no big deal and at the legal limit it feels
effortless and refined. Driving along motorways the JCW Coupe is just another
fast, small car; where it really comes alive is on twisting back roads and it
should, of course, be a competitive trackday competitor.
For: Fashionable sports styling, high-quality retro interior styling, well equipped,
sharp steering response, fast, well balanced and with huge cornering grip.
Against: Really poor rear and rear-quarter visibility, no rear wiper, options
really push up the price and some styling features are more cosmetic than of
any real use.
However, I suspect its strongest appeal will be to affluent customers who like
to think of themselves as 'forever young' and who just want a MINI that's a
bit different to make a statement. David Miles
Coupe John Cooper Works | £23,795
Maximum speed: 149mph | 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 36.3mpg
Power: 208bhp | Torque: 192lb ft | CO2 165g/km