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5 reasons why you should (not) buy a Mini John Cooper Works

August 19, 2022

Mini John Cooper Works

They are becoming less and less popular: hot hatchbacks. Not surprisingly, thanks to strict BPM taxes, you quickly pay big bucks for these kinds of small cars. Some automakers therefore choose not to sell extra hot versions of their small models in the Netherlands anymore.

Mini is bravely holding out and still has the Mini John Cooper Works in its price list. This extra spicy 3-door Mini boasts a whopping 231 hp. The model has recently received a facelift and there is even an extra chunky version on sale: the Mini Anniversary Edition. We give you five reasons why you should (not) buy a Mini John Cooper Works.

1. Power

The Mini John Cooper Works is a car that, as a car enthusiast, immediately excites you as soon as you hear the numbers. The compact 3-door Mini has only 14 hp less than a (much larger) Golf GTI. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is good for 231 hp. Not bad, in a Toyota Aygo-sized car. Okay, it is just a bit larger than the Japanese city car, but there is not much difference. The horsepower travels to the front wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission. Even shifting gears can be done via flippers behind the wheel. If you step on the gas, you will reach 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds. At 246 km/h the hot hatch only stops accelerating.

The fun really starts once you approach a corner. Braking is often unnecessary. The front wheels bite into the asphalt and drag you through it. The John Cooper Works sports seats offer plenty of lateral support and are upholstered in alcantara to keep you firmly in place even during the better steering. In the sport mode, the exhaust growls brutally, and downshifting and engine braking are sometimes accompanied by hefty blasts from the exhaust.

2. Looks

Many people choose a Mini because it looks so nice. We would not describe the appearance of the John Cooper Works version as “nice,” but rather “nice and thick. The Anniversary Edition we’re testing almost falls into the category of “muddy. But anti-social he does not look. Just not. This car will score you thumbs up when you hit the road. Everyone likes him.

That’s partly because of the fun set-up. The Anniversary Edition has the same green and white color scheme as John Cooper’s race cars. The roof, exterior mirror caps, door handles and surround of the headlights and taillights are white, and the body is finished in Rebel Green color. Various trim parts in high-gloss black, white stripes on the hood and a red accent line complete the racing look.

3. Heritage

A regular Mini has a retro look, but the Anniversary Edition takes it up a notch. This version features design elements both inside and out that recall the history of Mini and the Cooper family. Take, for example, the number 74, which flaunts on the doors and hood. Why number 74? It is the starting number that the first racemini wore during its racing debut.

Who is John Cooper? Cooper was at the heart of great Formula One successes and also of Mini’s sporting spirit. The British racing car builder – who died in 2000 – earned his status in racing as early as the 1950s. His Formula One cars revolutionized the world. Indeed, Cooper was the first to come up with the idea of placing the engine behind the driver instead of in front. As a result, the F1 World Championship was won by a Cooper F1 car in 1959 and 1960. After his F1 adventure, Cooper became best known for his work with Mini, culminating in three wins of the Monte Carlo Rally with a Mini Cooper S in 1964, 1965 and 1967.

Other items on the Anniversary Edition that reference John Cooper include the Cooper logo on the entry strips and the red ring of the original John Cooper logo on the trunk lid and above the glove box. The driver’s side dashboard panel bears the signatures of John, Mike and Charlie Cooper. There is also a handwritten note ‘1 of 740′ and the text ’60 Years Of MINI Cooper – The Unexpected Underdog’. Indeed, the Anniversary Edition run is limited to 740 units worldwide.

4. Quality

Many direct competitors the Mini JCW does not have (anymore). Only Toyota (GR Yaris), Ford (Fiesta ST), Abarth (595 Competizione ) and Volkswagen (Polo GTI) still offer tasty, real compact tear-off monsters. Suzuki still has the Swift Sport at Dutch dealers, but it has over 100 hp less than the Mini.

The Mini JCW is distinguished from other hot hatches by a high level of finish. BMW has been swaying the brand since 2001 and it shows in everything. You actually step into a mini small BMW. The interior exudes quality and luxury. Leather, aluminum, high-quality plastics: it’s all there. In particular, the aluminum rocker switches are not only pleasant to look at, but also to operate. The weight of the switches says everything about the Mini’s level of finish.

5. Modern

Although a Mini looks nice and retro, it is anything but old-fashioned. Mini has recently updated the 3-door, 5-door, Convertible and the Mini Electric, and the John Cooper Works has also undergone a rejuvenation treatment. It looks nice and fresh again as a result.

New items include a new grille, with a wider frame that extends to the bottom of the front bumper. The rear bumper is also fronted differently and looks quite aggressive. The diffuser in particular, with two tough exhausts with carbon fiber pieces in the middle, indicates that this is not a standard Mini. The 18-inch wheels are also new on the JCW variant and fill out the wheel arches nicely.

In the interior, the traditional clocks have given way to a fully digital instrument cluster. The infotainment system is also up to date and responds smoothly when you operate it with your fingers or the clickable rotary knob in the center console. All modern driver assistance systems are present, as well as things like a rearview camera and adaptive cruise control.

Why should you leave it?

Is there a reason why it’s better to leave a Mini John Cooper Works? Yes, for example, if you are looking for a car in which you can easily put your children in the back or and throw a stroller in the boot. In that case, skip the Mini 3-door for a moment. If your back hurts easily but you do like to take long road trips, even then you would be better off choosing a different, softer-suspension car. And remember when we started this article with the fact that hot hatches are very pricey in the Netherlands? The fast Mini also suffers from the strict tax rules in the Netherlands. A Mini John Cooper Works starts at 52,190 euros in the Netherlands. So a large sum of money, but when you’re behind the wheel, your smile is just as big.

Prefer electric? Also check out our test of the updated Mini Electric: