Hamming it up with a Mini JCW

By A. NACHI | 22 July 2015

The Mini John Cooper Works (JWC) three-door has arrived in Malaysia and it has more than a few people raving about it.

I decided to take up the offer from the folks at BMW to find out what is so great about this small car while burning some rubber in the process in Palma De Mallorca, Spain.

The JCW is the ultimate variant of MINI’s hatchback, the British brand’s best-selling model.

The engineers and designers at MINI had perked it up aesthetically and placed more power into this cute little fella.

So what is under the bonnet?

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The heart of the JCW is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 231bhp of power between 5,200 and 6,000rpm and 320Nm of torque from 1,250 to 4,800rpm.

With the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the JCW leaps from 0-100kph in 6.3 seconds, while the optional six-speed automatic is quicker at 6.1 seconds.

The JCW is currently the most powerful production car from MINI.

When I was introduced to the car during a media drive, I was delighted to see the exterior design and the fine finish that came with it.

This small ‘fella’ looks the part of a “performance car”.

The front section has strikingly large air inlets which indicate the high cooling requirements of the engine.

The hexagonal radiator grille at the centre of the front section has a characteristic honeycomb pattern.

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It’s rear has a distinctive spoiler fitted on the JCW to generate downforce at high speeds to increase stability and reduce lift.

Other exclusive features of the exterior include a sports exhaust system with special tailpipes, the turn indicator surrounds known as side scuttles bearing a red accentuation line and a John Cooper Works logo applied to a black background.

The sporty persona of the JCW has been further enhanced in the interior with the bucket seats upholstered in Dinamica leather.

The steering wheel comes with multifunction buttons and paddle shifters for the six-speed Steptronic sports transmission.

The cockpit displays are not cluttered and there’s a central instrument display that has model-specific designs - the pedals and the driver footrest are in stainless steel, and the roof liner is upholstered in anthracite.

The minute I got into the cockpit. I knew an adventure awaited me and I was surely not disappointed.

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Unlike a conventional key-twist ignition system, the JCW comes with jet-like starter toggle switch (red in colour), which I just had to press down lightly and blasted off along Mallorca’s highways.

On the first two gears, the MINI was slowly warming up.

The minute I was on third and fourth gear, the devil in me took over the steering wheel.

The acceleration from third and fourth gear was instantaneous and the minute I reached 6,000 rpm in fifth, I could just feel the car wanting to go faster.

And it keeps going smoothly without any hesitation.

The engine has a broad rev range and I had plenty of fun on the highway at speed as the JCW was very planted.

When I accelerated, the throttle response was amazingly quick and at every rpm, the engine was just smooth.

This new engine has an abundance of enthusiasm; and I really worked this engine hard, but instead it seemed unperturbed by my endeavours.

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It was simply exhilarating through the series of tight twisties, hairpins and wide corners.

It just goes to show that the JCW was in its element, taking the bends with precision and poise.

Believe me, the two-way road stretch, high in the mountains of Mallorca is less than 30m wide, thus attempting corners at speed must be well planned.

But fret not because the JCW has Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), which comprises of Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) - acting as an electronic locking function for the front axle’s differential - and Performance Control, which gave me total confidence on the steering wheel and was able to execute swift turns when taking corners at high speeds.

I even oversteered intentionally at 90kph in one of the less challenging corners and the result was astounding.

With the assistance of the DSC, I had total control of the car.

I did a few brake tests on the hills of Mallorca, especially at a few tight and sweeping corners.

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And I was impressed with the great stopping power.

A job well done to Brembo for the excellent high-performance sports brake system developed exclusively for this model.

Meanwhile on the race track, the fixed four-calliper disc brakes guaranteed a consistently high deceleration performance even when exposed to intensive stresses on the track.

At the end of my three-hour fling with this mini rocket; it was clear that the JCW was extremely grounded with quick reflexes coupled with smooth driving pleasure with loads of agility.

What’s there not to like about it?