Mini Cooper has been building pocket rockets for decades, but this new one is something special. I was recently given the keys to a 2016 Mini John Cooper Works for 12 hours to see how this car performed and if I could see myself driving it everyday. So let us begin!
It looks just like its little brothers but with added pieces to make it more exciting. The front has added an aero kit to help feed the beast under the hood. Naturally there are JCW badges on the front, side and rear of the car. Speaking of the rear, you will notice a center mounted exhaust that looks sporty and sounds great. This has to be one of my favorite items on the car. Why you ask? Well, starting the car sounds good, then hold and press a button, and a flap opens in the exhaust and you then have the growliest, nastiest, most awesome exhaust note I have ever heard come from a little car – and there is no need to tune it! It sounds better than an Abarth, and that is fantastic. The exhaust alone makes me want to leave my GTI and head over to this Mini.
This is where Mini has improved the most, however it is still nearly impossible to seat someone in the back seats…perhaps my dog but no human can squeeze back there and be comfortable. So ignoring the back seats the rest of the interior is a fine place to be. I am amazed when you look at the car from the outside it looks pretty small, until you hop into the Mini’s front seat – “Wow- there is a lot of room in here!” Guilty party right here. The materials used in cabin feel premium and are on par with BMW – ze Germans who designed and built this British car. They have moved things around, but it still keeps to the funky nature of Mini, and I like that. The new center console is nice, vibrant, and truly a Mini console.
A neat thing in the console is that you can access the entire users manual using the BMW iDrive derived system. So, if you have a problem all you need to do is type it in and find the solution – a win for technology – sorry old paper manual. The ambient colors are cool and annoying at the same time, so luckily they can be turned off. My favorite button naturally, is the toggle start button; not something you see often in a car – keeping with the funk that is Mini. The front seats in the Mini JCW are comfy, supportive and have a nice array of adjustments that allow you to find the sweetest, sportiest driving position. The visibility is great and it almost feels like you’ve got into a grown up go kart that is just a tad bigger and that’s not a bad thing, is it?
John Cooper Goodies
Those John Cooper goodies mentioned earlier like the fancy in-car entertainment system, electric seats, etc. make the car very expensive for its category. The base price for the 2016 Mini John Cooper Works is $30,600 and with optional extras the final price will easily creep north closing in on $38,000. That’s very pricey for a little car. I really think some accessories such as the center arm rest should be standard on sports hatchback this costly. On the flip side, this being the John Cooper Works there are some features that are part of the standard package- the chunky JCW steering wheel and the aero kit. They also offer something called the ‘MINI Excitement Package’ for no extra cost. I think I’ll have that.
Overall experience with the car
When this opportunity came by, I was very excited to get behind the wheel of the JCW. Mini’s have always seemed to be cool and quirky and have appealed to me. After all I am a quirky guy. The car I was graced with had the automatic with paddle shifters. Although, I was hoping for the manual but what can you do? The auto wasn’t awful, I found it responsive, and the paddle shifters added that fun element to the automatic. A nice new option are the driving modes availble on the JCW. You could be an eco person and set it to that, but in the JCW you have to have it on full sport mode or you lose the thrill.
It is important to note that this Mini is packed with power (the most ever in a Mini!) 228 hp engine that puts 236 lb-ft of torque down on the road. Not to mention it can do 0-60 in 5.9 seconds and keep going to its top speed of 153 mph. Not bad for a little go kart! Now with all that madness you need something to stop it all, and this Mini comes standard with 4 piston Brembo brakes – they are massive for this little car! So naturally stopping is an easy. However, that’s not what I wanted after spending so much time in the 2016 Mini John Cooper Works- It is sporty little fun car to drive.
Mini has done a bang up job with this new version of the JCW – and I can’t wait to see what they do next!