MINI Coupe John

Cooper Works

MINI Coupe John Cooper Works, front
MINI Coupe John Cooper Works, front, action
MINI Coupe John Cooper Works, action
MINI Coupe John Cooper Works, side
MINI Coupe John Cooper Works, rear
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, interior

TO be honest, I wasn't fully convinced. I'd seen the pictures and on first viewing them couldn't decide if MINI had got it totally wrong or whether the new Coupé was destined to be another winner for the marque.

But I shouldn't have been so apprehensive... this little gem really is the works.

With its chunky, low stance, short overhangs, sloping roof and highly-raked windscreen, this latest addition to the expanding MINI range is certainly a cracker, guaranteed to be on the "must-have" list of many of the style conscious or on the "I wish" list of those whose family commitments dictate they need something more practical than a two-seater sports car.

The four-model range, comprising Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD diesel and the flagship John Cooper Works is priced from £16,640.

And while I was more than impressed with the oilburning SD, of the two models I had a chance to put through their paces, it was the John Cooper Works version that will be the one to send flutters to the hearts of all petrolheads out there.

Kitted out with BMW's award-winning 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine tuned to deliver 211bhp while pulliing 192lb/ft of torque, the ultra-frisky JCW edition is pure heaven.

Combined fuel economy is just a tad off 40mpg while emissions work out at 165g/km. Top speed is an impressive 149mph while the regulation standing to 62mph takes only 6.4 seconds.

But it is the fun factor which makes this MINI flying machine the one to savour.

The Coupé retains the kart-like handling characteristics found in every model throughout the extended MINI family.

Aided by a speed-dependent electro-mechanical power steering system which makes for easy parking and slow-speed manoeuvring while giving a tighter feel while at speed, the Coupé handles beautifully in every situation.

With its fabulous handling, the new MINI excels, thanks in part to its razor-sharp six-speed gearbox, which made light work of gear changes, and the use of the sport button which altered the response characteristics of the steering and accelerator to offer an exceptional sporty ride that certainly gets the pulse racing.

Another aid to the car's handling is an integrated spoiler which reduces lift at the rear axle. It activates automatically when the car reaches 50mph, then drops again when the car slows to below 37mph. However, the flick of a switch will keep the spoiler in position no matter what the car's speed.

Inside, it is MINI at its best. The usual brand traits are there, such as large round speedo set bang in the middle of the dash while a panel of flick switches sit positioned aircraft-like above the driver's head.

To the rear, there is a 280-litre boot which actually offers more space than its Clubman sibling. It has capacity for two large cases or four hand luggage sized bags along with a couple of brief cases. A drop-down hatch even allows longer articles such as snowboards and golf bags to be accommodated.

To gain even more space, the hard parcel shelf can be removed and stored behind the seats, allowing even bulkier articles to be transported.

Safety features on the John Cooper Works include upgraded anti-lock brakes, cornering brake control, electronic brake force distribution, four airbags and run-flat tyres, while standard equipment includes air conditioning, park distance control, digital radio/CD sound system, height-adjustable heated sports seats and three-spoke Alcantara steering wheel.

Other option packs are also available, including MINI's popular Chili package and an eight-year/80,000 mile servicing plan which can be had for just £275.

There's little doubt sports car fans will adore this car, while it should also appeal to current MINI owners looking for something that's just that little bit different.

For being different is just what the MINI Coupé is really all about.

FAST FACTS

MINI Coupe John Cooper Works

Price: £23,795

Mechanical: 211bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 149mph

0-62mph: 6.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 39.8

Insurance Group: 165g/km

C02 emissions: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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