Whether you love it or hate it, BMW’s relaunch of the classic Mini has been the most successful reissue ever. Purists will bemoan the exaggerated growth in size from the compact original. They may also criticise the extended family of models spawned by BMW. Across the range there are all sorts of options from the Clubman to the Roadster to the Countryman. There may be a sense of overkill in the Mini camp, but there’s one model we’ve always loved. The John Cooper Works.
The Mini JCW has forever been the black sheep of the family. It’s the tearaway; the turbocharged monster; the rabid dog that ferociously chases the others. It has acted as Mini’s high performance model for the last five years. It sits alongside the likes of the Golf GTi and the Ford Fiesta ST as a hot hatchback. It’s a wealth of speed and power wrapped up in a tight little package. This week, Mini have announced the 2015 upgrade and it’s billed as the most powerful yet. We took it for a spin.
Engine – Mini are throwing all their weight behind the engine spec, so let’s start under the bonnet. Here you’ll find a tasty 4 cylinder, turbocharged beast. It will churn out a staggering 228 bhp and deliver a top speed of 153 mph. If you’re looking for speed off the line, it will take you from 0-60 in just 6.1 seconds. These stats put it right up there with the Golf GTi and the Fiesta ST. Finally, a proper hot hatchback that can keep up with the leaders.
Handling – It’s all well-and-good boasting the big numbers, but how does it handle that power? Without control and balance, that power is simply unruly. Luckily, the JCW is not only the most powerful, but it’s the most refined Mini yet. The old version always had trouble sticking to the road. It was fun, fast and furious, sure. But controlled? No. With the new JCW, Mini have addressed these concerns in a big way. It grips the road and hugs the corners. It’s tight and controlled, we love it.
Styling – Of course, Mini haven’t done away with the classic styling. It is still very definitely a Mini Cooper. However, they have trimmed the bodywork and given it a slight facelift. The new JCW is much angrier. The hexagonal front grill almost snarls at the road. There’s a larger intake at the front, increasing airflow to the engine and giving it a touch of excitement. The LED headlights are a nice touch, and the 17 inch alloys are fantastic.
Reliability and economy – CooperMini have a fantastic reputation for reliability. After all, they are precision made by German engineers. Their servicing and repairs options are also widely accessible and relatively cheap. In terms of fuel economy, the JCW isn’t exactly top of the class. However, the cleaner engine will produce a steady 49mpg. There’s a concession here given how powerful the engine is. If it’s fuel efficiency you’re after, you’re better off with the three-door Mini Cooper.
The new JCW is the most powerful Mini yet, and we love it. It’s fast, but more importantly, it knows how to handle the power. It’s not a yappy dog anymore, it’s a refined tiger.