It’s raining MINI’s in my garage and after spending the last few days with the MINI Cooper S Convertible, here I am, behind the wheel of the MINI Cooper JCW. Now, the JCW variant was right next to the Cooper S Convertible to receive a facelift last year, so let’s go right ahead and see what the JCW has to offer, keeping the former in mind too.
On the outside, you have to pull out a magnifying glass to spot some noticeable changes over the previous JCW version. Up in the front, the MINI Cooper JCW now gets a bigger grille that stretches down to the revamped bumper. This redesigned bumper now houses vertical air intakes replaceing the fog-lamp housings, and making the Cooper JCW look sportier than ever. Take a walk to rear and you’ll notice the re-engineered wheel arches on the way, with 17-inch wheels under them that come as standard, which of course, can be replaced with the optional 18-inch wheels. The turn indicators are now powered with LED bulbs and the more you walk towards the rear, the changes start to diminish, including the tail-lamps that retain the Union Jack signature style but except the redesigned rear bumper, which now houses the fog lamps. As seen in the previous Cooper JCW variant, this one still comes with three-tone color options for the roof and now with a few more new options as well.
On the inside, not much has changed. The 8.8-inch circular infotainment screen now gets a touchscreen at the bottom, replacing the buttons that were seen on the earlier versions. The other physical buttons are still retained in this facelifted avatar. Speaking of which, the MINI JCW now is loaded to the ‘T’ as standard, like a rearview parking camera, ambient lighting, Harman-Kardon music system, sports seats, and cruise control. Also, not to miss out, the MINI with the JCW has kept safety at paramount and offers safety features like Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), rearview parking camera and sensors. However, the test car we drove was equipped with other optional equipment such as a panoramic sunroof, front parking sensors, and a wireless charging dock placed under the front central armrest, all of which wasn’t that surprising but satisfying. However, what surprised me was the comfortable driving position for a giant frame like mine. Though, things turn upside down when we speak about the cabin space which is less, I felt to be on the brink of feeling cumbersome. But, for an average-sized adult in India, the MINI is a comfortable car to drive around with short-framed adults at the rear (read kids).
How is it to drive?
Under the hood, the MINI JCW comes with a 2-liter petrol unit that is mated to an 8-speed auto box with an in-house tuning by JCW, which has helped it to produce a peak output of 227bhp and 320Nm. The MINI JCW as per MINI’s claim can hit a ton from a standstill in just 6.1 seconds, making it the quickest of all in the MINI portfolio, and of course, driving it with the pedal down from 0kmph made me feel the acceleration too. The gentle tap on the throttle unleashes the beast in it and made me realize its fastness. In the city, well, some may find it easy but I found it difficult to get used to the throttle response, as the MINI lurches forward quite easily in bumper-to-bumper traffic from a complete standstill. That said, the auto box is quick and seamless with upshifts but hesitates a bit when you expect a quick downshift.
The suspension setup on the JCW is on the stiffer side, and at low speeds, you can feel every bit of rough and broken patches thrown across the wheels. And that exactly why the JCW behaves well when taken to its natural habitat, which is, a road full of twisties.
Should you buy one?
If you are someone who is looking for an enthusiastic premium hot hatch that’s priced under Rs 50 lakh, then the MINI JCW may appeal to you. But if you are looking for something a little practical with performance, and is also a driver’s car, then you might want to consider the rivals. That said, the MINI JCW has created a space of its own, and has none of the rivals to go against at the moment in India, and trust me, once you drive the JCW you can’t miss being smitten by its charm.