Johannesburg - Mini’s ever-flowing fountain of new cars has produced another John Cooper Works, or JCW, edition - this one credited with the most powerful engine yet fitted to a series production Mini.
The word ‘yet’ is important here, as Mini’s in-house one-upmanship will likely see an even more powerful version (probably a GP edition) in coming months. But for now, the third JCW, which was launched in South Africa last week, lays claim to the title.
Engine size is up to 2 litres from the 1.6 used in the previous two JCWs, and with help from a twin-scroll turbo, variable valve timing and direct injection, outputs are pegged at 170kW and 320Nm. That’s 15 more kilowatts and 40 more newton metres than the previous hatch version.
With this, Mini says the new JCW can bolt from 0-100km/h in just 6.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 246km/h, when fitted with a six-speed Steptronic gearbox. A six-speed manual, which will become available later this year, gets the same max speed but gets a slightly slower 6.3 second sprint time.
But as is the case with any hot Mini, it’s not all about power. Lessons learned from the 1961 British Touring Car Championship, when Sir John Whitmore whipped a fleet of more muscular Jaguars on his way to the title in a John Cooper-tuned Mini, still apply now. A performance Mini must also be able to exploit its size and weight with the ability to turn and stop - and this one sure does.
The JCW’s suspension system is a completely revised version of what’s found in your average Cooper, and race-tuned shocks, springs and anti-roll bars, along with four-pot Brembo brakes see to it the little hatch has the slow to match the go. But be warned, this is an extremely firm ride and over rough roads this relatively short wheelbased car dances like a caffeinated jitterbug. I’d recommend spending R6 200 on the Electronic Damper Control option which will offer at least a little reprieve for your rattling rib cage. I’d also advise on sticking with the standard 17” wheels over the harder-riding, but cooler looking 18s.
Inside you’ll find some JCW-specific content in a set of deeply bucketed seats, racy gear knob and pedals, and some chequered flag motifs on the seats, steering wheel and large central infotainment display. This 6.5” display, with its colour-changing mood ring surround is optional on other Minis but comes standard here.
I’m not sure how Mr Cooper or the original Mini’s maker Alec Issigonis, would feel about the trance party light show, however. Let alone the Eco Mode video game which sees a goldfish in a bowl reacting to your driving style. Drive hard and his water splashes. Frowny fish. Drive smooth and he leaps from his bowl to chow stars. Happy fish. Yes, I’m serious.
This JCW is identifiable by its five scoop front bumper (the previous JCW had three), and a horizontal bar through the grille with red pinstriping. The new JCW is available in all 11 of Mini’s current colour swatch, but also comes in a special Rebel Green unique to this model. As with all Minis, it’s highly customisable with an endless range of trim and option packages.
Although nothing is confirmed, it’s safe to assume the JCW treatment will be applied to other Minis, such as the five-door, in the near future.
Mini JCW Steptronic - R441 436
Mini JCW manual - R421 694