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28 Nov 2008

Mini Gone Wild: Mini Cooper S JCW

This week, we take the latest, most souped-up and expensive official factory approved Mini - out for a spin.

Madonna was satisfied with just a Mini Cooper in 2003. But I bet she wouldn't be in 2008. Perhaps Mini's latest Mini Cooper S JCW would do the trick. JCW is short for John Cooper Works, the official performance tuning division for Mini. Founded by legendary race car guru, John Cooper, who has since passed away in 2000 and handed his company to his son, Micheal Cooper. Hence, this is the most expensive official factory approved Mini out there now. The Mini Cooper S JCW is armed with potent upgrades to the turbocharged engine, a bodykit and some interior changes.

The 1.6 turbocharged engine in the standard Cooper S comes with "only" 173 bhp, however with new intake valves, reinforced pistons, new exhaust and a revised turbocharger, there are now 208 bhp jammed into the engine of the Cooper S JCW. More importantly, 260 Nm of torque is accessible at an incredibly low 1850 rpm. Sadly for clutch-allergic drivers, the Mini Cooper S JCW comes only with a six-speed manual gearbox, which happens to be a sweet and fast shifting gearbox. The overhauled engine impresses with almost zero turbo lag as acceleration at all speed is strong and instant, and it had better be at this price! While the exhaust note sounds like a touring competition car from the outside, there is a rather bland and almost mono-tone engine note from the inside. Also, the claimed 6.9 Litres/100 km is seemingly too optimistic for the addictive heavy right foot driving style of mine. Otherwise, there is a lot to like about the JCW's tuned turbocharged motor, very much like a puppy that has just been fed with LSD. Century dash takes place in 6.5 secs, placing the JCW right up there with the hottest hot hatches in the market now.

Oddly, the folks at JCW left the suspension untouched, which means the settings are carried over from the standard Mini Cooper S. With an increment of 35 bhp over the Cooper S, will the JCW be struggling to put the power hike to good use? With DTC, ABS, EBD, CBC, EDLC and DSC all installed to play the role of Betty Suarez, as an assistant to Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Meade in the hit sitcom, Ugly Betty. We always knew who the brain behind Daniel is, right? In short, they play the role of nanny and motivator in equal measures. The JCW's finesse in the handling department shows that the standard Cooper S could deal with much more power. Word of caution though, the excellent handling does not come with a cushy ride, which could also be blamed on the run-flat tyres.

All Singapore-bound Cooper S JCW comes with a pair of snug Recaro sports seats covered in alcantara, which incidentally would be the signature distinction for the interior from lesser Minis. Muscle queens do not have to fear abrasions as you rifle through the gears. The Recaros are well thought out for plenty of limb actions. Other sporting details include, carbon fibre gear knob and brakes and a lovely alcantara steering wheel, all of which are exclusive to the JCW. Of particular interest to me, the gear knob which is oddly the largest I have ever come across in terms of girth, very sexually arousing to hold. Perhaps the pitfalls of the Cooper S JCW's interior would be the cramped rear quarters and boot, which does little to ruin the Mini's distinctive designed interior.

Perhaps only to the trained eyes, the Mini Cooper S JCW's status quo among the Mini range is not prominent. The aerodynamic kit is subtle with the exception of the roof spoiler. There are a couple of tiny "Works" badges on both bumpers, which looks a bit tacky to be honest. Lastly, the 17" Cross Spoke Challenge light-alloy wheels are quite possibly the only giveaways. Here comes the biggest problem for the Mini Cooper S JCW, the additional layout required over the Cooper S is quite extraordinary at an whopping S$30K. For that price, I really want my greater price tag to be flaunted big time. Perhaps some LED lightings or even tacky disco ball hanging on top of the radio aerial would help shout the "Daddy" status of the JCW.

The amazing thing about the Mini Cooper S JCW is that it will work as a sharp driving tool on circuits and an everyday car as well. The engine modifications by John Cooper has given it the performance and character a sporty Mini deserves. Just give me more bragging rights, please?

Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works
Engine 1.6 litre, 4 cylinder/16V
Transmission 6-speed Manual, Front Wheel Drive
Max. Power 211 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max. Torque 260 Nm @ 1850-5600 rpm(280 Nm @ 1950 rpm with Overboost function)
0-100 km/h 6.5 s
Top speed 238 km/h
Fuel Economy 6.9 l/100 km (combined cycle)
CO2 Emissions 165 g/km
Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight

3714mm x 1683mm x 1407 mm / 1205 kg

Price with COE* $159,000

*Prices quoted are indicative of prices in Singapore. Please contact your local distributor for prices in your country.

Reader's Comments

1. 2008-11-28 16:06  
That's the way to go - Cooper S JCW - but what a mouthful! I'm sure it's still one of the best driving experience for a hot hatch, I prefer the Focus RS though. Don't like that roof spoiler - too "beng" and I don't think it makes any difference to the handling - 0-100 in 6.5 sec isn't exactly tarmac-burning pace.

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