There are tonnes of MINI fans out there, and while it took me a while to get on board, I am delighted to admit that I am one. Until recently though, had anyone asked me if I'd ever consider owning one, it would've been a "no" from me. I've always considered them to be too impractical (with the exception of maybe the MINI Countryman) - even before I had kids. Now, I've got two kids and despite its obvious impracticalities, I've just found a MINI that I could live with - but this car would be for me. Not the kids! Recently I test drove the MINI John Cooper Works.
For those of you who may not know what a MINI John Cooper Works is, well..., have a seat. The new MINI John Cooper Works is the most powerful production MINI ever. Sorry, I just need to go over that last part again... here we go... EVER.
So what does the most powerful production MINI "EVER" benefit from? Well, for €36,180, the new John Cooper Works gives a 2.0 litre TwinPower Turbo engine which gives 320Nm of torque and a very attractive 231hp. That's nice isn't it? Our model had a six-speed Steptronic sports automatic gearbox which dashes you from 0-100km/h in just 6.1 seconds. When it comes to rockets, I'd generally prefer a manual gearbox, but the auto box in this is more than satisfying. There is a 6-speed manual box that comes as standard and this delivers that 0-100km/h timing in 6.3 seconds. The auto box includes launch control, which is what allows it to pip the manual at the post.
I've only driven the previous model once, and that was at a track day some years back. I can't recall whether or not this new car feels better on the road, but MINI claims that everything is improved. I only managed to drive it on the open road, which limits your chances to fully test it, but what I can say is that it delivers near-perfect grip. Cornering is a breeze and the steering is extremely responsive on account of the bespoke axle kinematics - this helps eliminate torque steer. Taking bends at higher speeds is improved by Dynamic Stability Control and Torque Steer Compensation. The DSC mixes Dynamic Traction Control with Electronic Differential Lock Control and Performance Control.
Inside is made of high-quality BMW stuff and the front cabin is spacious and crisp. While the MINI Connected infotainment system is fine, my favourite thing about the interior is the sound that seeps in from the engine roaring.
Now it's time for some statistics. On paper we are told that our test model will return a fuel economy of 5.7 l/100km or just under 50mpg. Sorry folks, not a chance. This will probably never be driven that economically. I'm nearly sure that if we were to try really hard we might have hit in and around the 8 l/100km mark. Truth be known though; I don't think that anyone who buys one of these will have fuel economy as their top priority. CO2 emissions for our model is 133 g/km, which means an annual road tax of €280 at today's rate.
While entry level pricing for this vehicle may be set at €35,770, our car came with a lot of bells and whistles including; the rebel green colour (€1,089.72), the Media Pack XL (2,132.32) and the CHILI Pack (€3762.01). The CHILI Pack included 18" two tone JCW Cup Spoke alloys, and much more. Our car with other options thrown in came to €47,563.36. Which means that while the opening price for one of these seems reasonable, you will pay a lot for optional extras. However, this is a car that should hold its value well.
Overall, I really like this car. It's not practical, but it's certainly one that I'd consider for the peace of the open road.
For: Great fun to drive.
Against: Very expensive optional extras.