MINI John Cooper Works Review
The Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) is a fun-to-drive performance version of the hatchback
Strengths & weaknesses
- Very entertaining to drive
- Reasonable economy for a hot hatchback
- Ride can feel very firm
- Cheaper Cooper S is nearly as fast
Mini John Cooper works prices from £14,900 Finance from £278.40 per month
The Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) Hatchback is a faster version of the Mini Cooper S hatchback, with a series of upgrades that make it the quickest Mini production car ever.
It’s powered by the same 2-litre turbocharged engine, but it has been tuned to make 228bhp, which turns the fun Cooper S into a thrillingly quick hatchback that surges forwards with a nudge of the accelerator, with an exhaust that pops and crackles when you lift off your right foot.
You'll have to put up with firm suspension that means you feel every jolt as it crashes into potholes, but this does make the Mini more level in corners, so that it doesn't lean noticeably, and change direction in an instant. Combined with the Mini’s responsive steering, it’s a machine designed to make you grin, even when you’re sticking to the speed limit. It might not be as much fun to drive as the lively and nimbler Ford Fiesta ST and it's more expensive too - but it just doesn't have the sophistication of the Mini.
The car's shape and interior are little different to the rest of the Mini Hatchback range, but they have been tweaked to give it the sporty air of a car that costs from just under £26,000.
On the outside, it has a unique bodykit with John Cooper Works badges dotted around the car, a larger spoiler and alloy wheels made just for this model. Inside, there are leather and Alcantara suede-effect sports seats as well as the usual quirky style of every Mini, including a big circle in the centre of the dashboard, containign a display and controls, plus toggle switches, which bring the same retro character and charm possessed by the rest of the range.
What's lacking - unless you pay more for - is sat-nav, climate control and even floor mats. The standard two-tone dashboard display is particularly miserable, and would be disappointing even in a Kia Picanto.
The JCW also comes with the same flaws as the Mini three-door Hatchback (you can't get a JCW version of the Mini five-door Hatchback). The main shortcomings are its cramped interior for rear seat passengers and a dinky boot. These might not be important considerations for someone looking for a hot hatchback, but it’s worth knowing that you’ll struggle if you do carry more than two passengers and much more than a couple of small suitcases regularly.
At least running costs shouldn’t be too steep. The manual-gearbox JCW returns an official 40.9mpg, while the automatic reaches 46.3mpg.
The automatic Mini JCW is the quickest version but the car best suits the manual gearbox because it makes you feel far more involved with driving.
|Warranty||Three years / unlimited miles|
|Boot size||211 litres|
|Tax||£205 in first year, £140 thereafter|
Best MINI Hatchback JCW for...
Best for Families – Mini JCW with Chili Pack
The Mini JCW isn’t a car that many families will consider, as the rear seats are cramped, the boot is small and the three-door bodystyle isn’t particularly practical, but there are ISOFIX points in the rear. Go for the cheaper manual option and use the money saved to add a couple of optional extras such as parking sensors. If you need more space, there are JCW versions of the larger Countryman and Paceman SUVs.
Best for Performance – Mini JCW Auto
The automatic gearbox in the Mini JCW has better performance figures than the manual. It’ll go from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds (0.2 seconds faster than the manual)
- April 2015 The Mini Cooper JCW goes on sale in Britain.
- March 2019 Cleaner versions of the model go on sale to meet latest emissions regulations
Understanding MINI Hatchback JCW names
The engine size of the Mini JCW is shown in litres.
Automatic versions of the Mini JCW are clearly labelled Auto.
MINI Hatchback JCW Engines
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is the same one that powers the Cooper S on which the JCW is based, but it’s been tuned for even better performance. It's pushing out 228bhp, which is a good chunk more than it's main rival, the Ford Fiesta ST, which can only muster 197bhp.
It’s an engine used in BMWs (the German firm owns Mini), but when fitted to the Mini, it feels very quick - it’ll go from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds when fitted with the six-speed automatic gearbox and onto 153mph. It’s very enjoyable trying to make the most of the car’s power, too. It’s fitted with a sports exhaust which sounds great - it makes crackling and popping noises which adds to the drama of driving a fun little hot hatchback like the JCW.
0 - 62mph
MINI Hatchback JCW Trims
John Cooper Works
The Mini JCW is a trim level in itself, so there’s no confusion about what you get for your money. As standard, you get LED daytime running lights and bright LED headlights, a sporty bodykit and large 18-inch JCW alloy wheels. Inside, there are Alcantara suede-effect sports seats, digital radio, Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity, air-conditioning and cruise control.
The equipment list feels miserly for a such an expensive car though. You can spend an awful lot of money on Mini’s extensive options list, which can easily take its price above £30,000, but the £600 variable damper control is worth considering. This gives you the option of selecting a more comfortable suspension setting, which makes the ride less bumpy, but not as smooth as the standard Mini.
Most people will opt for the Comfort Plus Pack. This £1600 option includes electric folding mirrors, heated seats, and velour floor mats. Mini's own sat-nav is a £900 option and also adds Apple CarPlay.
MINI Hatchback JCW Reliability and warranty
The Mini may look unique from everything else on the road, but it uses parts and technology found in many BMW cars, which - in theory - should stand it in good stead when it comes to reality.
The good news is that breakdowns are uncommon. But that doesn't meant that owners are happy about the car. In fact, it was ranked 147 out of 50 for reliability in the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. That's mainly down to the number of complaints about rattles in the car.
Minis come with 3-year, unlimited mileage warranties, so if you’re a high-mileage driver, you’ll be covered should anything go wrong. You can also opt for Mini’s TLC service pack, which includes 5-years’/50,000 miles’ worth of servicing for an up-front fee of £399 if you buy it brand new.
Used MINI Hatchback JCW
The Mini JCW went on sale some time after the rest of the Hatchback range, so the earliest models of the current generation date from 2015. The cars hold their value well, so you'll pay around £16,000 for the cheapest, which tend to lack any optional extras.
Cars equipped with the Chili Pack tend to cost closer to £20,000, partly because their first owners often failed to resist the temptation of the options list and paid for other extras on top of them.
Although this brings the price closer to that of a standard new model, you'll actually be saving several thousand pounds on the price of a new car that's fitted with the same level of equipment.
The fun, Mini three-door hatchback is one of the most stylish small cars you can buy