What it Is
2009 MINI John Cooper Works Preview – 2008 New York Auto Show: Mini introduces two John Cooper Works models in regular and Clubman flavors. This time around, the high-performance models will be factory built instead of dealer installed options. Both will use the same 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. Intake, exhaust, wheels and suspension are all specific to the JCWs. The little hot rods debut in Germany in August, come the States some time after that. No U.S. pricing has been announced.
Why it Matters
For buyers, it means not having to purchase JCW accessories at the parts counter and then pay the dealer to install them. With both models available in hopped-up form, if the original three-door won’t do, you can get the go-fast five-door. Part of the fun of buying a MINI is the company’s online configuring and the wide range of color schemes and options. So, if you had your heart set on a red and black Mini with the Scottish royal flag on the roof in the John Cooper Works version, you can spec the whole thing out while wearing your fuzzy slippers and Batman pajamas.
What’s Under the Hood
Mini takes the S model's turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, makes some internal changes, adds a new intake and exhaust, and presto-chango the little engine now produces 207 horsepower and 192 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum torque is available from 1,850 rpm to 5,500 rpm. In addition, turbo boost pressure is increased under acceleration from 2,000 rpm to 5,300 rpm, which ups the torque to 207 lb.-ft. All of that is good for a 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds for the Mini and 6.8 seconds for the Clubman. Power is transferred to the front wheels through a beefed-up six-speed manual gearbox. The JCWs ride on a sport suspension system or buyers can choose more aggressive setups, including a stiffer chassis and lowering the car by a little less than half an inch. Brakes are based on those used in the Mini Challenge racing series and sit behind 17-inch alloy wheels. If that weren’t enough, the steering system has three driver-selectable modes.
What It Looks Like
The JCW cross-spoke design wheels distinguish the souped-up models from the normal Mini and Clubman, along with larger exhaust tips and a small wing on the back of the roof. As with other Mini models, the buyers of a JCW can pick from several different paint schemes, stripes and other decorative bits, including some with a carbon fiber look.
As is the case with the exterior, buyers of the JCW have the usual bevy of options for decorating the interior. Navigation and the upgraded audio systems are on tap, along with factory sport or Recaro seats.
What Mini Says
All throughout the press release, Mini refers to the JCW models as sports cars. With the power output, suspension upgrades, light alloy wheels and a real off switch on the stability control, we can’t really argue with that label.
What We Think
The regular Mini is already a lot of fun to drive, with go-kart handling, and in the S good performance. Now the diminutive division of BMW brings back the John Cooper Works model in two body styles and with not only a boost in performance, but the availability of a special chassis and suspension. Let’s motor all right – directly to the race track.
By Bob Beamesderfer
Photo Credit: MINI Cooper