“How Fun is made more Fun!”
Any manufacturer that has a history also has an iconic person of their respective time that exemplified and pushed the boundaries of the vehicles of their era. Ford has Carol Shelby, Lamborghini has Valentino Balboni, Fiat has Carlo Abarth and to round out this list, but by no means complete it, Mini has John Newton Cooper. The name sounds familiar as it is his name’s sake that adorns the Mini Cooper. The connection between Mini and John Cooper Works is based on a decades-long tradition, joint successes in racing and a shared awareness of driving pleasure. Six decades ago, the sports car designer John Cooper paved the way for the classic Mini on the race tracks and rally tracks, ultimately giving way to average Mini cooper owners to draw upon this race inspired experience and history.
Now some of you may say, Sandeep, what does this have to do with the Neon Yellow Mini Cabriolet pictured above. The fact is that this Mini is a John Cooper Works massaged version of the Mini Cabriolet. The normal Mini Cooper is an enjoyable fun to drive car, with engaging handling characteristics. John Cooper Works turns up the dial a few notches to 8 or 9. Converting the Mini Cooper into a race inspired go-kart. At its heart the pulse of the driver is increased via a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with Mini TwinPower Turbo technology. It generates a maximum output of 231 hp and a maximum torque of 236 ft-lb. All of this race inspired fury is transmitted to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission as standard or an 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission as equipped in the pictured Neon Cabriolet I tested.
The 231 hp is capable of thrusting the JCW Mini to 100 km in 6.3 seconds (automatic: 6.1 seconds). Its top speed is 246 km/h. The Convertible accelerates to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds (automatic: 6.5 seconds) and reaches a top speed of 242 km/h (automatic: 241 km/h). To reign in all of this fun, the JCW all sticks Brembo developed brakes at all four corners that are mated to adaptive dampers that can be tweaked as desired. Behind the wheel the JCW feels alive and active. It begs you to grab it by the scruff of the neck and throw it around. It remains flat and composed on twisty roads. Shifts from the Steptronic transmission although not the fastest are crisp and satisfying. In full automatic mode the Mini finds the appropriate gear and will hold gears when necessary. The interior is well appointed and dominated by the big center circular display. Although the analog display of days past is replaced by a captivating touch LCD. The system is relatively intuitive, but requires some effort to learn how to access various modes and settings. Two colour modes are available for the graphic display on the central instrument and the multifunctional instrument display on the steering column. The “Lounge” and “Sport” modes offer relaxing blue and turquoise tones and an animating combination of red and anthracite, respectively.
Hot hatches are not a North American love. However, for the rest of the world they are a sought after car category. They give buyers a combination of thrill and practicality like no other vehicle. I guess they sort of fall into that same category as performance versions of Compact SUV’s like the Ford Edge ST or Mercedes AMG GLC 43. However, those vehicles cannot match the go-kart like fun derived from the hot hatch. Sure the likes of the GTI may dominate this category, however, the JCW Mini captures the essence perfectly and although with a starting price of just over $44,500.00, the cheaper GTI does not give you an open air fun option and does not have the racing heritage that the JCW has as part of its DNA.