Powered by a 2-litre, four-cylinder motor making 208bhp/300Nm, the Cooper S JCW surely earns it’s racing stripes. You get 19bhp and 20Nm extra over the standard Cooper S, all of which can be felt on the road. The JCW edition also adds louder pipes which result in a rather throaty exhaust note that only gets better as the revs climb. And like all fast Minis, the exhaust delightfully pops and burbles on the overrun.
Featuring direct injection and BMW’s infamous VANOS variable valve timing, this engine makes most of its torque quite early and below 1,500rpm, making it remarkably responsive for a turbo motor. Jam the throttle and this car gathers pace easily and pulls particularly hard in the midrange. If anything, you can even short shift to a higher gear and make the most of that mid-range punch. When driving around town, pick up speed and you know at that point that you have only scratched the surface of this powertrain and the plea to hunt down an empty stretch of road is profound. Come across one and its fireworks.
Sure, there is no organ-crushing boost rush when you go flat out but that strong onset of torque from around 2,500rpm is captivating and before you know it, you are moving really fast. To put it in numbers, the Cooper S JCW does 0-100kmph in 6.41 seconds, going on to hit 150kmph in an equally impressive 13.70 seconds. It’s impressive in gear, too, dispatching 40-100kmph and 20-80kmph in 4.79 seconds and 3.99 seconds respectively.
Next to the Cooper S Clubman or even the standard car, the JCW edition feels more eager to scamper off and get going. Its drivetrain’s party piece comes in the form of the driving modes, namely Mid, Sport and Green. Reacting noticeably different in each mode, the car alters the throttle and steering response besides changing the shift points and ferocity of the 6-speed automatic gearbox depending on the mode. In Sport mode, everything is turned up to eleven - the throttle is at its reactive best and the gearbox also hangs onto lower gears and shifts up above 6,000rpm, near the redline. Now, as one would expect, switching to Green mode calms things down considerably – the gearshifts are noticeably smoother and the steering becomes lighter as well.
Strong. That really sums up the braking performance of the Cooper JCW. It’s got a fantastic set of brakes that deliver strong stopping power even after continuous hard driving. We recorded one of our best ever stopping times with this car. In fact, it took 2.58 seconds and just 36.35m of tarmac to bring the Cooper S JCW from 100kmph to standstill.