The 2016 Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) may have the word mini in its name, but don’t be mistaken—there is not a whole lot that is small about this car.
Recently re-invented again when the current generation standard Mini Cooper three-door (upon which this vehicle is based) was launched, the 2016 is the quickest production version the company has ever built. It’s also arguably the best looking.
John Cooper Works is the manufacturer’s in-house tuning arm, responsible for making extra sporty versions of their regular lineup of cars. While it still keeps the compact form that has made Mini Coopers so popular, there have been some select tweaks to this car—such as the addition of gaping air intakes in the front bumper, which aides in cooling the high-performance engine and brakes. An upswept rear spoiler helps provide much-needed downforce around corners, and the centre exit dual tip muffler expels spent exhaust gasses.
In addition to the go-fast parts, the vehicle is sprayed in another JCW exclusive: Rebel Green metallic paint colour. Rebel has a different appearance depending on the lighting conditions. The green really sparkles under the sun, but at dusk it can resemble a dark grey or black.
The front seats are very supportive, with quilted centre sections finished in suede; the driving position is exceptionally durable with easy access to all necessary controls, and the passenger has plenty of legroom. The back seats are less so, cramped but manageable for small persons. Flip up the hatch and there are 211 litres of usable space, enough to accommodate a large suitcase and maybe a carry-on bag —all the necessary luggage for a weekend trip.
The JCW’s nature is spry indeed, thanks to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine benefiting from the BMW Group’s favourite Twin Power Turbo Technology. Horsepower, at 228, is an increase of 10 per cent compared to the outgoing version. The 236 pound-feet of torque represents an even bigger jump—23 per cent—from before. Zero-to-60 times vary depending on the choice of transmission; it’s about 6.3 seconds if equipped with the fun six-speed manual featuring automatic rev matching, or 6.1 seconds when matched with the six-speed Steptronic sports gearbox. Not everyone will be timing their drag strip runs, but the stats give an idea of how punchy the acceleration can be.
Front-wheel drive gives the average motorist a little more confidence when turning compared to a rear-wheel sports car, and torque steer has largely been eliminated due to some wizardry programmed into the electronic power steering system. The tuned suspension feels great and allows the hatchback to pivot on a dime, but may give a bumpy surprise upon the first encounter with a speed hump or pothole. Still, the JCW is great fun anywhere you take it, and hearing the exhaust burble while cruising down the highway should put a smile on any driver’s face.