Over the past year I’ve become well acquainted with the MINI brand. Having tested the Cooper, 5S and Countryman S All4, I can say that I really like the variance in their line-up. There’s a cult-like following world-wide for this iconic car and the more time I spend behind the wheel, the more I understand.
Yes, there are several other cars out there that have a large following, world-wide fans and since the internet showed up on computers, on-line fan clubs. But those loyal to MINI are a force to be reckoned with. And there’s just so damn many of them!
For the enthusiasts who want more oomph beneath their right foot, MINI offers the John Cooper Works trim; and boy oh boy, it’s stunning! Speaking of iconic, I hear this John Cooper fellow did a few impressive things in his lifetime.
The 2015 John Cooper Works (JCW) is simply a thrill to drive. With 228 horsepower (39 more than the S trim) and an insane 236 lb-ft of torque, the JCW is mighty powerful, as it should be for bearing the “John Cooper Works” name. As you can imagine, I had absolutely no issues getting up to highway speeds. And even though 70% of my test driving was done on Mississauga streets (the other 30% was in rural Milton, which I’ll get to soon), the JCW found a way to make a congested, traffic-light heavy city fun to drive in. My JCW tester came in Rebel Green ($1,000 option) with a red roof and mirror caps and looked stunning in my driveway for a week. Complete with performance tires, a Brembo brake system with red calipers, high-end suspension technology, mammoth 18-inch light alloy wheels, (did I mention that it’s the most powerful MINI to date?) and 2.0 L, 4 cylinder engine, the JCW was made for the driving enthusiast.
Side note: As I write this on a Thursday evening, I took a short Facebook break (All hail King Zuckerberg!) and Facebook suggested I join the “Little Britain Motor Company” group. I didn’t but good on you, Mark, for knowing what’s what.
Anyway, back to the JCW. I opened up this beautiful machine in rural Milton and that’s truly where she shines brightest. No traffic lights, lots of twists and straightaways, very little traffic. Just John’s spirit, Ryan Adams and me. My tester had a six-speed Steptronic sports transmission, which is incredibly accurate and responsive to your right foot.
The JCW includes paddle shifters if you feel your accuracy is better than what the MINI engineers have offered. Even still, it’s fun to ascend through the gears yourself, all with only using your fingertips.
I suppose my only complaint about this is that I didn’t have a chance to test out the six-speed manual option. I’d be more than happy to include my left foot into the mix…it’s the traditionalist in me.
But really, there’s plenty of fun and enjoyment with two hands always on the wheel.
Handling, ride quality, suspension, driving experience, cornering (not too sharply) and responsiveness receive an astounding A++; it is a MINI, you know, go-kart like and all.
Oh, and the initial blast of power from a dead stop is exhilarating!
Inside, the available Wired Navigation package ($1,450) includes, well, navigation, Bluetooth and a 6.5” screen controlled by MINI’s version of BMW’s iDrive. There’s the typical large centre console with climate controls beneath and in front of the driver is the large speedometer with an RPM gauge to the left.
To avoid wasting fuel, there’s an automatic start/stop feature when you’re at a red light. To keep your fingers tapping, the available Harman Kardon sound system is definitely “all about that bass” with enough treble to harmonize with several genres of music.
Now MINI has equipped the JCW with tremendous power and smartly, they’ve provided newly developed, uber comfortable, hold-you-in-place-no-matter-what sport seats with an integrated headrest with the option of having them heated.
If you like natural light as much as I do, take the panorama roof/heated seats/fog light package for a measly $1,000. You’ll appreciate it in spring/summer/autumn for light and in winter for having a warm derriere.
In true three-door fashion, it can be slightly cramped in the rear seats. The solution? Make your friends do your laundry, mow your lawn, iron your shirts, polish your shoes, do your dishes, paint your nails to see who gets to ride shotgun. If you’re coupled, then all bets are off as the standard rule is to have the significant other as a permanent fixture in the passenger seat.
The upside is that MINI has opted to fit two comfortably in the rear opposed to jamming in three uncomfortable folks. There’s even a leg separator in case you your rear seat mates don’t get along.
The rear seats fold down for golf clubs or easy access to a suitcase for an extended road trip.
Or it can fit a hard shell, full size acoustic guitar case, for you rock stars out there.
Priced at $33,240 before you and your MINI dealer start checking option boxes, the JCW comes pretty well assembled out of the box.
If you’re in the market for a beautiful looking two-door hatch with remarkable power, a world renowned nameplate coupled with a racing legends fingerprints all over it, the 2015 JCW is for you.
It’s good in an urban setting but begs to be explored and enjoyed in a rural environment.
The JCW is made for the auto enthusiast and the driver who wants to move with power, grace and surefootedness. It’s a MINI with maximum power, a solid interior, stylish exterior and loads of personality.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel a sudden urge to put on Top Gear, have some tea and crumpets, speak in a British accent and change my name to Jay Kana, Esq.
Yay: Power, styling, torque, fit and finish, incredibly high “fun to drive” factor, handling handling handling!
Nay: The $1,000 paint option is slightly steep.