Good work Ethic
Posted on: 25th Jul 2012
It's not much of a coupe is it? In my book a coupe should be all about slinky lines and a sassy shape but this MINI Coupe looks like a hatch that something has sat on. It's not the most elegant looking of cars but spend a little time with it and the initially shocking shape starts to grow on you.
Before too long you start admiring it in shop windows as you drive past, this stunted Coupe worming itself into your affections like a plucky underdog. Then the fact that this is the product of a huge and efficient German marketing machine brings you back to reality.
Whatever you think of the concept, there's little doubt that the MINI JCW Coupe is a car with quite some force of personality. With so many bland lookalike hot hatches on sale, perhaps we should embrace something that dares to be different while not short changing us when it comes to fun.
With a 211bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine under the stubby bonnet, the JCW Coupe isn't shy of pulling power. It'll demolish the sprint to 60mph in just 6.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of nigh-on 150mph so it has some proper chops. The electrically assisted steering is weighty but fairly quiet with none of the kickback you got from the old Cooper Works cars. Likewise the engine itself does its work in a fairly unobtrusive manner, only getting vocal at the very top end of the range.
Handling is very safe and reassuring with plenty of lateral grip and excellent body control. Drive it very hard and it'll lapse into slightly ragged understeer but it never feels as if you can be quite as expressive with the throttle pedal at the limit of grip in quite the way you could with a hot Clio. A small spoiler pops up above 40mph, helping to add downforce to the rear. The best part is that the JCW Coupe always feels as if it's encouraging you to try a bit harder. We like naughty cars.
Design and Build
The JCW Coupe is no shrinking violet with a dramatic two tone paint job and 17-inch alloy wheels. Buyers also get a retuned (read stiffer) sports suspension which serves up a ride that's a few degrees lumpier than the standard hatch. As with all the Coupe models, there's only room for two inside although the through-loading facility from the boot at least means you can carry some fairly sizeable luggage, MINI quoting a 280-litre figure with the seats in place. The roof of this hard top model doesn't include any strengthening members, torsional rigidity instead provided by a toughened windscreen header rail and a transverse bar that's mounted above the rear axle.
The thirteen degrees of extra rake in the screen gives the car a more sporting appearance, but a quick straw poll of colleagues delivered mixed responses on the success of the styling.
Market and Model
You'll need £23,795 as an opener for this JCW Coupe but that's really only the start. MINI has a way of drawing you into its options list that will see most cars leaving dealers comfortably north of £25,000 and discounts are nigh-on impossible to achieve.
Equipment includes dynamic traction control, piano black dash finishers, a leather trimmed steering wheel. An anthracite head lining, 17-inch cross spoke alloys and a sport button.
Cost of Ownership
Even a modest cruise through the JCW Coupe's options list can leave you feeling wholly impoverished. You'll need to shop carefully as the number of tempting small extras tot up and you won't see much of that additional outlay reCouped when it's time to trade in. That said, the JCW should do very well when it comes to clinging onto its value if previous sports flagship MINIs are anything to go by, especially so when considering that this one doesn't do all that badly when it comes to economy and emissions.
The 1.6-litre turbo engine is a fantastic little thing to drive but it's also very good at recording great fuel economy figures, for the NEDC's computer program at the very least.. Emissions of 165g/km aren't going to send you to the wall when the time comes to tax the JCW or indeed if you plan to run one as a company scoot.
Any car that stands out from the norm and which offers a sparkling driving experience coupled with modest running costs is OK in my book. No, the MINI John Cooper Works Coupe isn't going to be for everyone.
Some will not get on with its stumpy styling. Others will see it as a cynical marketing exercise. Get any of these people to drive the thing and they'll doubtless emerge with grudging respect. It's plain good fun and in a po-faced motoring environment where grammes per kilometre have become the Holy Grail, fun is a precious commodity we should cling to.
If you're in the market for a coupe and you might have been considering an Audi TT or a Peugeot RCZ, the MINI JCW Coupe represents a left-field choice that trades elegance for a wholly infectious personality. Try before you buy has rarely been so apposite.