However it's easy to become lost with the proper Minis because, despite the name, this car is not a JCW. It's a Mini Cooper S with a dealer fit 'John Cooper Works Pro engine tuning kit'. It's not a Mini Challenge either despite sharing an engine and a very naughty exhaust. But it is more than just a Mini Cooper S, as evidenced by its additional 19hp and 15lb ft. What this Cooper S Works (that isn't a John Cooper Works) best resembles is the Cooper S Works 210 Edition of 2016 - launched back then as a limited edition with the same mechanical package, and now on sale as a series production model offered in three-door hatch, convertible and five-door form. Understood?
Autocar has called this 210 "the best driver's car that Mini has come up with during its current heartland-model generation"; Top Gear said it was "a little riot" and Auto Express reckoned it was "great to drive" - high praise indeed.
Given the changes for this car are modest - the suspension is unchanged from the Cooper S - it would seem that the appeal of the 210 is in how it's specced. The Autocar road test car ran the standard dampers and 17-inch wheels; 'ours' has the optional £375 dampers but keeps the smaller wheels, which sounds like very good news given our less than positive experience with the 18s and run flats.
Initial impressions are dominated by the Bluetooth activated exhaust, which makes such a racket that Mini says it should only be used away from the public highway. Does a multi-storey office car park as off the road? Certainly we - and a few unsuspecting Waitrose shoppers - can vouch for the outrageous din out of those tailpipes. Excellent.
The Works 210 will have to do more than upset pensioners at the supermarket to impress in 2018 though, however encouraging that might be as a starting point. Not only is this Mini far from box fresh - the third generation version is on the cusp of a facelift, after all - it faces a wealth of competition in 2018 including the new Volkswagen Polo GTI, the latest Ford Fiesta ST and the Peugeot 208 GTI that already resides on the PH Fleet. If this car can see off those rivals in terms of enjoyment, while delivering the same quality and desirability that other Minis are known for, then we really will have a standout hot hatch on our hands.
Car: 2017 Mini Cooper S Works 210
On fleet since: January 2018
Run by: Everyone!
List price new: £19,994.40 (As tested £28,344.40 comprising £475 for Melting Silver metallic paint, £300 for Mini active from 12/06/17 to 11/06/20, £1,695 for Works enhanced kit, £75 for John Cooper Works sport leather steering wheel, £375 for variable damper control, £80 for black bonnet stripes, £120 for Anthracite roof lining, £220 for sun protection glass, £215 for front seat heating, £2,710 for Mini hatch tech pack, £2,000 for Chili pack for JCW sports pack and £85 for LED headlights with extended contents)
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