Everything About MINI John Cooper Works 2015

It's the fastest and most powerful MINI yet. Say hello to the 2015 MINI John Cooper Works

f you want a MINI and you want a fast one, there’s one name that combines the two: Cooper Mini Coopers have their origins in the 1960s and the pocket rocket has been with us ever since. But where do you look when fast isn’t quite fast enough? Enter, John Cooper Works.
What you’re looking at is the second–generation MINI John Cooper Works and the most powerful production MINI ever. Like the Cooper S on which it is based, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine sits beneath the JCW’s stubby bonnet, but extensive internal tinkering has upped power from a modest 189bhp to 228bhp. That’s a 20bhp increase over the outgoing JCW.

Reworked pistons, a new turbocharger and an updated intercooler produce the extra grunt, while a new freer-flowing exhaust adds a fresh set of vocal cords. On paper at least, the modifications appear to have done their job. Half a second was shaved off the 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds, with the six-speed manual, while our Powershift Auto test car is quicker still at only 6.1 seconds. Top speed for both models is 153mph, meaning the JCW is the fastest MINI ever too.  

Climbing inside the MINI JCW is no less of an event than sinking into the Cooper S. Part Alcantara, part leather bucket seats – standard in the JCW – welcome you as you swing open the door. Then a prod on the pulsing fighter-jet style starter button brings the engine to life with a bark.

Out on the road, the MINI JCW feels every bit as quick as the spec sheet would lead you to believe. The performance boost over the Cooper S is immediately noticeable, with the additional 20Nm of torque and 39bhp providing that additional low-down shove needed to keep up with the likes of the all-wheel-drive Audi S1.

The revs build cleanly and eagerly – partly down to all 320Nm being served up from a lazy 1,250rpm. It adds to the impression that the infectious character of the Cooper S has been ramped-up in the more hardcore JCW.
The new modular underpinnings of the latest MINI Cooper S showed promise of being able to handle and distribute more power effectively, the JCW proves that’s possible. There’s a slight squirm from the steering wheel under hard acceleration but torque steer is well contained, with the rorty crescendo of the new sports exhaust encouraging you to press on, especially with the crackles from the pipes on the overrun.

Rather than a mechanical differential, MINI has bolted on a lighter and cheaper electronic diff. It’s capable of letting you tackle faster, sweeping bends more courageously, with the slight movement in the body allowing you to pinpoint exactly where the grip is. In tighter bends the electronic diff isn’t able to put the MINI’s power down with the conviction of the Corsa VXR fitted with a mechanical differential and the result is a whiff of understeer in the JCW.
But this is where the MINI arguably comes into it’s own. You can counter the understeer with a slight lift of throttle mid corner, allowing the agile back end to become more mobile and follow the nose.  There’s far more charm and interactivity in the MINI than you’ll find in the Audi S1, but like the Audi, the JCW’s steering could do with a touch more feel, despite being generally direct and positively weighted.

But even if you find yourself out of gear, the omnipresent wave of torque can cover up any driver errors, with 50-75mph in fifth gear taking 5.6 seconds. It might sound a bit meaningless, but compare that to the 5.9 seconds it could take a Porsche 911 Carerra S to cover the same increment and there’s no ignoring the MINI’s tenacious attitude.
But it’s looks extend beyond the purpose of simply frightening the opposition. The lower and deeper front bumper helps feed additional air to the intercooler, while the smaller, squarer vents, which are were you’d usually find the front fog lamps, help cool larger four-piston Brembo brakes. Sadly, the two-tone bodywork doesn’t provide you with a performance boost but it certainly helps broadcast the promise of hair-raising performance. 

It looks like a hooligan but easing off shows another side to the MINI JCW. Optional adaptive dampers will set you back £240 but it’s a price worth paying. ‘Normal’ mode takes the edge off the JCW’s stiffness and sharpness compared to the settings served up by selecting ‘Sport’. It’s more than comfortable enough to use day to day, although it will tend to sniff out larger ruts, and it’s nicely damped so never crashes into smaller imperfections.



The MINI JCW builds on what was already was an appealing, charming and quick hot hatch. With performance stats that wouldn’t look out of place in the class above, tweaks to the engine, exterior and overall attitude of the JCW make it feel more than a step beyond what the Cooper S is capable of. The JCW upgrade comes at a cost, especially if you get liberal with the optional extras, but charm and performance have rarely been executed in such a way.