Mini Cooper's JCW Coupe a Hot Little Number
2012 Mini Cooper’s JCW Coupe Review:
The new Mini Cooper Coupe – the John Cooper Works, or JCW, edition – perked up my driveway.
The Coupe is Mini’s new model, has no back seat and a lowered roofline that gives it a distinctive profile, and a more buglike appearance.
With black paint and a red racing stripe – reversed on the red roof with a black racing stripe – the JCW was hot.The Coupe has attitude and isn’t afraid to admit it. The JCW version turns that up a couple notches, while remaining a cute runabout. BMW makes the Mini in Oxford, England, but the high-performance engine and transmission come from the parent company in Germany.
While the base Mini Coupe features the standard 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter I4 that powers other Coopers, the JCW model boosts that to 208 horsepower by using direct injection and a turbo. It couples that with a 6-speed Getrag manual transmission that means business.
There are long throws, but the transmission feels stout and it’ll handle whatever the turbo pounds out. If you drop the clutch quickly, the MINI launches away from stops. The Mini Coupe is seriously racy, offering dynamic power.
The Mini rides on a 97.1-inch wheelbase, and the JCW model boasts 17-inch tires.
The rear hatch opens to hold nearly 10 cubic feet of cargo.
Handling remains the Mini’s trademark and makes all of its models fun to drive. The JCW Coupe, though, feels like it’s racetrack ready. It corners flat and quick. Steering is precise and there’s a fairly heavy feel to the thick steering wheel.
The performance aspect you may not like, why most of us might favor the midrange S model, is the $500 extra sport suspension that turns the ride super stiff, to the point of punishing on our rougher roads.
There’s a multi-link rear suspension and MacPherson struts up front. Braking is four-wheel vented discs (red calipers) and ABS, traction control and Corner Brake Control are standard.You’d think with all that power and attitude the Coupe might punish you at the pump, but I managed 29.0 mpg, with the trip computer estimating a much more robust 32.6. The EPA says to expect 25 mpg city and 33 highway. My driving was about 60% city.
While I loved the car’s exterior and its performance, I admit I’m tired of the kitschy interior with all its circles, the giant speedometer and info readout at the dash’s center, hard-to-reach toggles and small buttons.
I’m also not a fan of the tricky stereo system. There are so many layers and functions here that this system should not be used while the car is in motion.
There’s a circular key fob that slides into a port on the dash, before you press a button to start the car. All the window controls are toggles at the base of the center stack, and there’s a fine navigation system built into the giant round gauge dead center of the dash. There’s a speedometer there, along with the radio and trip computer info. Luckily there’s a small round gauge atop the steering column that features a digital speed readout, which is much more useful.Oddly there’s an oval glove box release and oval design in the doors, spoiling the symmetry of the interior’s circle-fest. Fit and finish appear good throughout, but there was a rattle as if something were loose in the back, especially noticeable on bumpy roads.
Pricing might scare a lot of folks off the JCW version, which starts at $31,200, and there’s a $700 delivery fee. The test car went hog wild with options, including a black and beige leather interior that adds $1,500. Even the black metallic paint costs $500 extra. But add in all the electronics, the cool racing stripes, etc., and this model hit $38,450.
The base Mini Coupe starts at $21,300 and the S model at $24,600, and its souped-up engine delivers 181 horses and 27 mpg city and 35 highway.