We tried it out at the Madras Motorsport Race Track. Also known as the MMRT. But before we could have a go in the JCW, we went out for a few laps in the Cooper S. And that helped in two ways. One, I had a fair idea what to do, and when to do it, come a corner. And two, I now had a benchmark to compare the JCW against; to really see if that badging really is such a big deal.
And since we drove it on a race track, we will skip the bits about ride quality, ease of parking or how easy or tedious it is to put a stroller in the JCW’s boot. Instead, we will talk performance, and sound, and handling, and braking. And of course, the fun to drive factor.
And straight off the bat, the JCW feels special. The seats are sportier. The steering and the throttle feel more alive. And it sounds so much nicer, too. And as it turns out, you land up at the braking marker for each corner carrying way too much speed. The car is deceptively fast. That 6 seconds 0-100kmph time not only feels true, but it is addictive, especially with the way that exhaust sounds.
So, you brake harder. And immediately, the bite and feel from the JCW surprises you. And you know you can brake later, harder, and trail off the brakes with more control. You also realise that, unlike the Cooper S, the brakes on the JCW aren’t prone to fade. But, that is not all.
If you brake too much, and then try to compensate by getting on the throttle aggressively, you will only end up over compensating, and therefore running wide. Just back off the throttle and watch the JCW pull its nose in as if it were magic. Trick differentials really are ‘race-line-savers’.
The turn-in really is go-kart like. And, even though the car likes to twitch around under braking, it just adds to the drama instead of panic. Moreover, the JCW doesn’t mind getting its tail out that wee bit to straighten out a corner a bit earlier, so that the throttle can be jammed back to the floor that much sooner.
This is a fun car. A lot of fun, in fact.