Published by Karan Tripathi | May 30, 2019 in MINI

Mini John Cooper Works First Drive Review

The 2019 Mini John Cooper Works is now available in India and we took it for a spin around the MMRT to come back an experience full of grins.

Much has been said and written in praise about this icon, which they say is also a grown-up go-kart. In addition to that, it is without a doubt chic as any car out there can be, and like all things legendary, has a story behind its existence. To honour that legend then, Mini has dished out a John Cooper Works example and invited us to sample the audacity of this little thing in an environment which could absorb all the playfulness that awaited.

To give you some good to know information before we share our experience, the John Cooper Works Mini is the ultimate in the Mini lineup and is now available in India at a price of INR 43.5 lakh Ex-showroom. For that money, you can buy a machine which can make many blurt out words from the Urban dictionary which are synonymous with cool. If you’re seen driving one, those words will stick for you too. But there are other reasons which triumph above all these and those would make you grin and scream some unheard expletives and superlatives once you get behind the wheel.

Powering that experience will be a Turbocharged (twin-scroll), 4 cylinder engine which cranks out 231 HP and 320 Nm of torque at 1,450 rpm. All that power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed Steptronic Automatic box and it makes the Mini John Cooper Works go from 0 – 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. If you care about things like those, the Mini JCW is rated for 16.47 km/l.

Also Read: Mini’s 2018 Urban Drive Mumbai: A Stage Where Drivers Witness the MotoKhana Drama First Hand

Does It Sting?

For the low, flat and wide footprint that it has, the Mini JCW punches above its pint-sized appearance in the most delightful manner. All four wheels are placed at the furthest possible distance of each corner, so much so, the black cladding you see around the wheel arches was added just because the front wheels were placed so wide, a part of them exceeded the body’s width.

After an initial braking exercise, we went about the MMRT for more than 10 laps and within that time, the Mini John Cooper Works cemented its pedigree in my mind too, as to why is it such a revered thing after all. There are three driving modes available – Sport, Mid and Eco. Since we were on the track, no prizes for guessing which one we had the car in all the time. We tried the Mid mode too for a little bit, where the turbo’s presence is felt very slightly when the car gets off the line. But Sport mode ensures there’s enough fuel squirted into the chambers to compensate until turbocharging works its magic.

The 8-speed gearbox can be operated via pedals behind the wheel, which is how we did it for knowing our way around this track. On its own, the torque converter is as good as a unit like this can get and it slots things into the right places at the right time, does it quickly and most importantly, it downshifts at the drop of a hat to keep the engine near boiling speeds when it knows that’s how you want it.

From idle, the Mini JCW gets off quite quickly where ESP (We were asked to keep it On at all times) and the twin-scroll turbo dial down the immediacy and initial drama (had this been a manual), but the gearbox upshifts a distinct burp from the exhaust and those twin pipes at the back and the 2.0-litre motor do make the Mini JCW sound more serious than its appearance. There are pops and crackles to be heard to after lift-off too.

In terms of performance, the engine feels strong and serves those 231 horses at the pedal throughout the band. However, since we were out on the track and gunning it all the time, we were only tasting the top layer and it tasted delicious. In an open environment, the Mini JCW felt fast in a balanced way and we feel out there on everyday roads, the story could be more overwhelming. That account is for another day. For now, allow us to share, the most enchanting part.

It’s how the Mini John Cooper Works handles which had us floored. The driver’s seated in the car, and the car itself is low and that only makes the connection between the driver and this Mini pretty well defined. Since it was a hot day, the track itself was well prepped for action and the Mini JCW was more than eager to show off. The first corner at MMRT is a flowing right-hander where the Mini’s tyres screamed a little as the chassis refused to give up it’s playful and ready-for-action character

Everywhere else along the circuit, the Mini JCW’s chassis displayed such great predictability even when we dialled things up to stupid, it was a riot behind the wheel. The electronic nannies sure do add to that and also won’t let you step on it to dart out of a corner if the front wheels aren’t as straight. But this thing is so agile at shifting weight from one side to the other, it makes you look like a bigger Hero than you actually are. Brakes showed little or almost no fading even after 10 hot laps and the tyres were screaming all the time but did a stellar job of making it stick. Because around a track, the Mini JCW is more of a characterful tool which will make you grin silly than a precision knife which is all serious and means business. In more able hands, it can do the latter too, but hey, why stay grim when you can laugh.

Tell Me More!

So inside the cabin, you get tasty bits like a premium Harmon Kardon audio system, an HUD, a crisp central display and a backseat for emergencies. There’s more in the form of leather, JCW badging at a lot of places, LED illumination and a lot more. The good part is, a lot of it is standard and optional bits include adaptive suspension, tyre pressure monitoring system, 18″ alloys and a panoramic glass roof. The Rebel Green paint shade is optional too, but otherwise, there are some 10 other shades you can pick from. On the outside, there’s a red stripe across the front grille, aggressive in appearance inserts and optional bits again which can make this already unique thing stand out even more.

At INR 43.5 lakh ex-showroom though, the asking’s a little on the higher side, considering the fact that the Cooper S asks for nearly a million Indian rupees less. So if you’re someone who doesn’t settle for less, the Mini John Cooper Works is a charming machine if you like your things top grade, unique, stylish and you want a lot of giggles thrown in.

Mini John Cooper Works Specifications
Engine Type 1998cc, Twin scroll turbocharged 4 cylinder.
Power Output 231 HP, 320 Nm
Acceleration (0 – 100 km/h) 6.1 seconds
Transmission 8-speed StepTronic
Fuel Economy 16.47 km/l
Price INR 43.5 Lakh (Ex-showroom, Delh