The MINI Cooper S is as cute looking and charming as the rest of the Mini range, but with everything turned up to eleven. It’s got more oomph, more horsepower and more scoops than a regular 3 or 5-door Mini Cooper. Now, however, you can have a Cooper S that’s even more powerful.
Say hello to the Cooper S JCW (John Cooper Works) edition which represents the extreme end of performance motoring from Mini. Based on the 3-door Cooper, the new John Cooper Works edition is the most powerful hatchback one can buy in India. Here’s how it’s like to drive.
Available in two colours – midnight black and British racing green, this is no regular Cooper S as you get contrasting colour option for the roof and the wing mirrors. The JCW edition also adds go-faster stripes, 17-inch gloss black wheels, headlamp surround bezel in gloss black and dual tail pipes finished in carbon fibre.
These cosmetic upgrades are borrowed from the brand's John Cooper Works styling department. In terms of overall look, the low-riding stance and short overhangs give the Cooper S lots of character. The aggressively designed bumpers (part of the JCW aerodynamic pack) and the flared wheel arches give this car a strong visual stance especially when viewed from behind. Overall, the Cooper S JCW looks rather mean, what with all the beefed up exterior bits and the aerodynamically optimised body work.
The standard car’s cabin is already a rather special place to be in, but that hasn’t stopped the JCW division from sprucing up the interiors. You get body-hugging Sport seats (in black and red), meaty JCW steering wheel, red dashboard trim and door armrests finished in similar shade. The cabin overall is well put together with soft-touch materials, leather upholstery and high-gloss plastics to go with the high price tag. There are some nice traditional touches like the toggle switches, multiple Union Jack motifs and the multicolour LED strip that surrounds the main display.
Up front, the leather seats are wide and large enough and the visibility outside is decent, too, thanks to the thin A-pillars. There’s more than enough shoulder room and knee room in the foot well.
The rear space has also improved a bit with the longer wheelbase, but even then it isn’t sufficient for adults. There is a serious shortage of legroom and under thigh support.
In terms of features you get Mini’s Connected infotainment system that comes with an 8.8-inch display, a head-up display, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, multi-function leather steering wheel, body hugging leather seats and commendable quality all-round. In terms of safety equipment, there’s front, side and curtain airbags, LED headlamps, traction control, ABS and cornering braking assist.
Under the stubby hood rests a 2-litre, four-cylinder motor making 208bhp/300Nm – that’s 19bhp and 20Nm extra over the standard car. Fitted with an exhaust that pops and burbles on the overrun, this engine’s got a lot of character. It makes most of its torque quite early, making it fairly responsive for a turbo motor. Jam the throttle and this car gathers pace easily and pulls particularly hard in the midrange. If anything, you can even short shift to a higher gear and make the most of that mid-range punch. Flat out, the Cooper S JCW does 0-100kmph in 6.41 seconds. It’s impressive in gear, too, dispatching 40-100kmph and 20-80kmph in 4.79 seconds and 3.99 seconds respectively. The engine is connected to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is an old unit, which has been upgraded for this car; it works fairly well, but still slower compared to the dual-clutch boxes that we have become used to in the premium cars.
The thing that we liked the most about the Cooper S JCW is its handling and stability at speed. The direct steering and small size make it fun to throw around. Despite the added width and increased wheelbase over the years, there is still that go kart-like feel behind the wheel which offers good feedback when the front wheels start to lose grip.
Now some might find the steering a bit too heavy in the town but it really is a point and shoot affair. When you are going for it, maintaining speed in this car is easy - the turn-in is sharp and the overall balance at higher speed is impressive as the whole thing sits remarkably flat. All in all, the quick steering, strong brakes and the brilliant exhaust note all add up to leave you with a wide grin. The JCW edition features stiffer dampers and springs and the result is a ride that’s simply too harsh for the kind of roads that we have. It’s a stiffly sprung car, after all, and the ride is quite unforgiving over rutted roads and sharp-edged potholes. At higher speeds, the Cooper S remains composed however the ride isn’t particularly refined due to excessive tyre noise.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||208bhp @ 5000 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300Nm @ 1250 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||44|
|Tyre size||205/55 R17|
|Full LED Headlights||Yes|
|Multiple Air Bags||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||208bhp @ 5000 RPM||189bhp@5400 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300Nm @ 1250 RPM||250Nm@1250 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||44||45|
|Tyre size||205/55 R17||215/35 R16|
The Mini Cooper S JCW carries a hefty premium. It is in fact priced at Rs 43.90 lakh (ex-showroom) which is pricey indeed. To put things into perspective, that’s more expensive than even the 5-door Mini Cooper S Clubman. But if attention-grabbing looks and strong performance are your priorities then the Cooper S JCW is undoubtedly your best bet – it’s got bucket loads of appeal and is immense fun behind the wheel. Simply put, it’s a car you ought to buy with your heart, not your head.
Pictures By Kapil Angane