Think MINI Cooper and works like small, fun to ride and desirable comes to our minds. And rightly so. The range of coupes, convertibles and of late, bigger 4-door variants have set benchmarks from time to time but did you know, the same brand MINI also has a wilder side?
JCW or John Cooper Works is to MINI what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. They are responsible to extract the most out of a regular MINI Cooper and we Indians have had a taste of their prowess in past too in form of ‘kits’ that were added to the Cooper S models. But this time, we are being given the real deal, a proper MINI Cooper JCW version that aims to redefine sports hatchbacks. I got a chance to sample this new model around the MMRT or Madras Motor Race Track just outside Chennai and my emotions can be seen in the video below.
It was a hot summer day and proof came from the display of the JCW version : 49.5 degrees! But I wasn’t complaining for the package on offer here seemed to tempting to resist. Getting into the car, adjusting my frame into the relatively comfortable seat and getting the mandatory helmet on, I fired up the motor from the oh-so-cool red toggle button located on the central console. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit fires up with a deep growl and make its intentions very clear. With 231 bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque, the MINI JCW edition makes 39 bhp and 40 Nm more than the regular S version. And this was way too apparent when I the track a few minutes later.
The engine is paired to a 8-speed torque converter and this might disappoint enthusiasts. A DCT or a dual clutch unit has been left out for the JCW and yes, shifts aren’t as quick as you want them to be but the oodles of power and torque on avail make up for the loss. Plus of course you have the Sport mode by your side which lets you forget about the shift part and concentrate on your throttle and steering inputs. And this is what all of did for a few laps.
Pedal to the metal, the JCW does excite you a lot. There is more power than you bargained for and the engine ends up overpowering the tyres easily. Yes, electronics, including a front differential lock help you from under-steering out of the track but you always have to take it easy as far as your right foot is concerned. In a straight line, the JCW is quick, very quick but thankfully, it has the brakes to match the performance.
Back to the handling bit, I have been a fan of how the MINI behaves when you want to have your share of grinning moments. A gentle tap of the brakes allows you to get the rear out and you can hold the same for a second or two, powering out of a fast flowing curve as you aim for the next one. Some hints of this are visible in the video above.
On the inside, the JCW model gets a red-n-black theme that will not seem loud or overdone for most. The cabin look and feel remains similar to that of the Cooper S and the main change here is the gear lever that does duties for the 8 sped ‘box. As as expected, as an owner, you can customise the interiors with personalised add-ons. Another change are the seats – they do not get power adjustment but I sort of like it. Getting into a good driving posture by manually adjusting the seat for recline and slide gives you a feel of being ‘attached’ to the car. Right no?
On the outside you get 205/45 Hankook tyres that are mounted on black 17-inch wheels and look brilliant. And because you are paying so much for what is a small car, you get the elements to distinguish yourself from the crowd. These bits include multiple JCW badges, larger air vents for the turbo’s intercooler, a massive sunroof and black-red exterior theme.
Rs 43.5 lakh is a lot of money. At this price, the JCW model is about Rs 9 lakh more expensive than the Cooper S but for petrol heads, the extras thrown in sweeten the deal. It looks funkier, drives a lot better thanks to the altered suspension, sounds so much better and the with all power on avail, owners sure will be teasing quite a few Sports cars on the road. Looking for epic thrills without spending over half a crore? You know where to head to!