Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Thursday 26th April 2012

Driven: MINI JCW Coupe

So, does the fastest mainstream production Mini yet go better than it looks?



The Mini Coupe's public unveiling from beneath a giant baseball cap with accompanying break dancers in low-slung denim has to be among the more nauseous examples of motor show marketing guff. But there's always been more than a hint of the embarrassing dad trying to prove that he's down with the kids about Mini's relentless flirtations with yoof culture. You'll note early allusions to the roofline being influenced by a reversed baseball cap have been quietly dropped though...

Perhaps better when partially obscured
Perhaps better when partially obscured
Motor show glitz and press launch hyperbole dealt with we thought it worth spending a week in the Coupe's company to suss, once and for all, whether the coupe is actually the most PH-worthy Mini yet or simply a derivative too far.

Putting the boot in
First impressions? Well, it's a Mini with a daft roofline and even less room in the back than usual. Oh, apart from the boot, which is actually bigger than the Clubman estate version, yet difficult to access thanks to the world's heaviest bootlid. So it's both the most and least practical (non Countryman) Mini yet made. And the fastest, apparently.

Familiarity means the novelty value of the Mini interior has dulled a little but if you haven't been in one for a while it's still like nothing else. OK, the retro thing may be a little over-egged but it's fun and distinctive and, for all the daft features like the oversized central speedo, actually quite clean and easy to use. The near £30K pricetag of our test car is going to raise a few PH eyebrows no doubt but, though pricey, extras like the stitched leather dash (£805) do at least raise the ambience levels a little.

Points deducted for trying too hard
Points deducted for trying too hard
This being the JCW version (what, you thought we'd get the diesel in or something?) our test car has the full 211hp and temporarily overboosted 206lb ft of torque, still remarkable figures for a mere 1.6. Again, it's an engine we're familiar with from a host of cars - not least the Peugeot RCZ you may consider a rival - but Mini seems best equipped to unleash it's more charismatic side. Saying that there are fewer of the characterful bangs and pops it's had in the past.

Speak up caller
Like every control in the car, the throttle response is a little springy and over keen, the sense that the Mini is shouting just a little harder than it actually needs to about its performance never quite absent. There's nothing subtle, the JCW dumping seemingly all the available acceleration or steering in response to the smallest input. It's desperate to impress but sometimes you wish for a slightly calmer response. Hitting the Sport button just magnifies this further, the steering gaining unwelcome and artificial weighting and the throttle even snappier responses.

Looks do turn heads, it has to be said
Looks do turn heads, it has to be said
It's all about the front end this car too, the rear wheels seemingly just propping up the back end. They certainly don't offer much in the way of lateral grip, no matter what that Riggers might say! All Minis seem willing to steer from the rear, lifts even with the stability control on occasionally requiring substantial corrections in addition to the sometimes violent kickback and camber sniffing you get from the front wheels. The JCW gets the LSD-simulating Electronic Differential Control but at times you'd swear there was a mechanical diff up front the way the wheel tugs back and forth at times. All of which makes the JCW somewhat busy on bumpy roads, be they city streets or undulating back roads with sudden camber changes or big compressions.

So where does that leave us? Pretty much where we started really - a Mini with a daft roofline and even less room in the back...


MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS COUPE
Engine:
1,598cc 4-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 211@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 192@1,850rpm
MPG: 39.8mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 165g/km
Price: £23,795 (£29,335 as tested)

 

Dan Trent
2 3 4
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

MrTappets

Original Poster:

786 posts

71 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
Looks like fun but somehow I can't help but loathe it. It's sort of like a mad scientist taking away your dog after it dies in order to reanimate it. You'd end up with a lumpy twitchy frankenstein of the original.

Ozzie Osmond

15,567 posts

126 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
It's just horrid...

...so the ideal second car for those who've already splashed out £40k on a 4-pot Evoque.

sinbaddio

378 posts

56 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
BMW have a knack of selling cars that don't look great (X6 etc) - it'll be intersting to see how many of these get out on the roads. Personally I don't mind it, it's different and quirky. I wouldn't buy one tho!

Codswallop

4,248 posts

74 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
I really dislike this car - the styling is awful, and I get the impression that the sole purpose of bringing out the "coupe" model was to get extra sales from fashion/ marketting victims. The Mini Roadster looks like more fun, but plenty of other things I'd rather buy for £25k...

damiangt3

877 posts

120 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
I have one, came out of my GT3 (Divorce) and needed something to bum around in for a bit. Saw the Coupe JCW and thought 'What the hell' and did it, 2000 miles and 1 month into ownership, I guess the mileage is telling you something, these cars are a complete hoot. I've still got a Cooper S (I've had a Cooper D, Cooper S Conv.) and this is head and shoulders above that.

I agree it's a very marmite car, but in the 'right' colour combination they look amazing, I've never had so much attention (even compared to the GT3) and have had to literally demo the car to people. All the crap about shrunken roofline and less space, personally speaking I've had very little need for the rear seats in a hatch, the GT3 never had any, the boot space in the Coupe is enormous, I reckon I can get my road bike in there with a little thought!

Take one out for a test drive, don't be fobbed off with a Cooper S version they are limp compared to the JCW, they are fun with a capital 'F'.

Advertisement

Johnboy Mac

2,666 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
£29k! The world is gone mad.

Braintax

212 posts

67 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
like a Mini JCW, but worse

MonkeyMatt

5,139 posts

87 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
I dont hat ethe styling, especially now Ive seen a couple! but that price!!!! a normal cooper would be a much better bet!

Dan Trent

836 posts

48 months

PH Editor Bloke

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
damiangt3 said:
I have one
Fair play that man and thanks for coming on and fighting your corner! And you're not wrong about the attention.

JohnoVR6

422 posts

92 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
95% sure I've read somewhere that this is stiffer than the standard Cooper. So it isn't all marketing ploy to do with that 'Helmet roof' as they, and I'm sure many others, call it.

Having driven one though, the only difference I felt was my head touching the roof!

Codswallop

4,248 posts

74 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
JohnoVR6 said:
95% sure I've read somewhere that this is stiffer than the standard Cooper. So it isn't all marketing ploy to do with that 'Helmet roof' as they, and I'm sure many others, call it.
Not surprising that a body shell with fewer large openings is stiffer than one with more openings. Saloons/ non-hatchback style coupes are generally always stiffer than their hatchback counterparts where a large part of the bodyshell lifts away.

LuS1fer

31,291 posts

125 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
Along with the Countryman, it is one of two MINIs that make me laugh....at the owners who think they look cool. If they only knew.

Edited to add had they put an old CRX style rear end on it, it would look great.

arkenphel

276 posts

85 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
AS much as I wouldn't buy the car because of the lack of headroom and difficulty seeing traffic lights, It isn't a bad car. far more characterful than an i30 or whatever. Somehow I don;t think the article gives a fair review of the car, an example of which states that "it has less rear space, but has a big boot".

Come on, it doesnt even have rear seats. Which is it then?

I await the numerous responses of sheep echoing the reviewer's view, most of which haven't driven the car. Part of me wants to laugh at them, another part of me wants to runthem over.

This isn;t just with the MINI though. it's with all other reviews as well which from time to time aren't very objective.

I suppose this is pistonheads after all.

chickensoup

352 posts

135 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
Takes an amount of skill to make a coupe that is uglier than the regular car; but BMW have succeeded

toppstuff

10,048 posts

127 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
I would take this over the white PH Golf.



Johnboy Mac

2,666 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
I would take this over the white PH Golf.
Really? Pray tell us why.

Arun_D

1,850 posts

75 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
With a black or body coloured roof, I don't think they look quite as daft. In fact, I don't think they look at all bad with such colour schemes. For me, it's another example of a shape that's refreshingly different from the other white goods on the roads, that unfortunately is destined to get a royal bashing from most (think Evoque, Juke etc).

DAVEVO9

2,600 posts

147 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
I would take this over the white cliffs of Dover.
yuck

LuS1fer

31,291 posts

125 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
DAVEVO9 said:
yuck
Ah,in the tyre-tracks of Datsun/Nissan Bluebirds.*


  • according to Vera Lynn.

damiangt3

877 posts

120 months

[news] 
Thursday 26th April 2012 quote quote all
arkenphel said:
AS much as I wouldn't buy the car because of the lack of headroom and difficulty seeing traffic lights, It isn't a bad car. far more characterful than an i30 or whatever. Somehow I don;t think the article gives a fair review of the car, an example of which states that "it has less rear space, but has a big boot".
True about the traffic lights, you have to position yourself just right wink

Headroom is no problem, I'm 6'1" and have the Recaro option and I've got room both height and by the door frame (unlike a Maser Stradale wink ) to wear a crash helmet with no issues.

The reviews make me laugh....but so did the car until I drove one!



Edited by damiangt3 on Thursday 26th April 13:18

2 3 4
Reply to Topic