Mini Cooper S JCW (R56): Spotted

While the automotive world is still trying to wrap its collective head around the idea that the original 'new Mini' is now swiftly approaching its 18th birthday, the second generation version - or R56, if you know Minis - has rather passed unnoticed. It was first introduced in 2006, and given how rapidly the automotive landscape has move since then, there's probably something quite endearing about the Mini generation that seems somewhat forgotten about.

Think of it this way: it's going to be more grown up and liveable than an original R53 Mini, while also way better looking, lighter and sharper to drive than the current car. A JCW like this car has more power (211hp) than a new Fiesta ST, Polo GTI or Renaultsport Clio, with reviews from a few years back describing it as having "eager, tenacious, rough-and-tumble, scruff-of-the-neck charm." How often are new cars criticised, even the supposedly feisty hot hatches, for being a bit meek and forgettable? Here is a car built less than a decade ago that's brimming with up-and-at-'em energy that any small car, current Minis included, will struggle to match.

Ah yes, you're going to say: "but that's the Mini with the Prince engine and its dodgy timing chain tensioners". And you'd be absolutely right, because it is. However, this particular R56 JCW is special for having its timing chain and tensioner replaced - sadly there isn't any more information on where this was done or when, but addressing probably this generation's most significant flaw must be a plus point.

But then you might also say: "Eight grand for a 2009 Mini? That's madness; I could have a Fiesta ST for that money!" Again, you'd be right, because Β£8,180 buys this 2014 Fiesta ST with 45,000 miles on it. That said, Minis are renowned for their tough residuals, retaining money when many less prestigious cars might not. The very cheapest JCW of any kind on PH currently is Β£6.5k, for example. The hope therefore being that their rarity and desirability will mean you get more of that Β£8k back when you come to sell. The Fiesta ST, great car though it is, will surely only continue to get cheaper.

This particular car appeals too because, in the myriad of Mini options, it's come out looking quite good. Oh sure, the lemon cheesecake interior inserts won't be to all tastes, but the Challenge wheels, black stripes on off-white paint and red calipers look pretty smart from here. Certainly it's very easy to imagine worse specifications out there.

Don't forget, either, that if this isn't for you as standard, then there are going to be all manner of modifying options out there too. It could be made into a track car, a show car or whatever else you desire given the scope of new Mini modifying. This engine once held a record for the highest specific output in a production motor, too, before the Peugeot RCZ R made 270hp from just 1,598cc - so if you're feeling brave...

Bear in mind, finally, that there are half a dozen Mini GP2s for sale on PH - with which this car shares a decent amount - at twice the price and its case looks a lot stronger. The fast Mini is never going to be for everyone, but then neither should it be dismissed out of hand by enthusiasts either. As the brand appears to cater more and more for the lifestyle side of things, don't be surprised to find these impish hot hatches become ever more in demand.


Engine: 1,598cc, 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 211@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 206@1,950rpm
MPG: 40.9
CO2: 164g/km
First registered: 2009
Recorded mileage: 68,000
Price new: Β£20,995 (2008)
Yours for: Β£7,999

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (49) Join the discussion on the forum

  • skidskid 13 Nov 2018

    I picked up an R56 JCW a couple of weeks ago and its great! I paid similar money for a 50K miles car in all black with all options ticked and it feels worth the price even though its an old car.

    Its fast enough, makes all the right noises with the sport button pressed and is really fun to drive. Its feels like it wants to be driven for a laugh and actually handles quite well. My VX220 is a great car but its very serious and demands your full concentration, the mini feels like its eager and egging you on to enjoy it all the time.

    You need to find one with the right service history because of the issues mentioned (mine came from a Mini dealer so has a good warranty and mini assist for a year) but other than that my only issue is playing music from your phone through the stereo is a pain.

    Edited by skidskid on Tuesday 13th November 08:33

  • M3_Simon_Fr 13 Nov 2018

    This is the only car I got new, and also the only car I had so many problems with:

    - Tensioner (of course)
    - Complete replacement of the sunroof
    - "Lost" engine mount
    - Gearbox issues

    I was lucky though: didn't need to replace the HP pump (but my father had to, in his R56).

    In one word: wonderful to drive, crappy to own.

  • M3_Simon_Fr 13 Nov 2018

    Oh and the stereo was absolutely awful too, even after fitting Focal speakers all round.

  • McFarnsworth 13 Nov 2018

    I'd go for a late R53 every single time.
    They also have their issues, but none quite as severe as the R56
    They're also more fun to drive and have more character.

  • AmosMoses 13 Nov 2018

    Friend of a friend has one of these, £6k deep in repairs for the 5 years he has had it...

    I really like them, but the engine is never praised for reliability!

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