WAITING lists for the best performing MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works are stretching to quite a few months so the company is filling the gap with a new model that's available now.
Called the Cooper S Works, it boasts 210bhp instead of the JCW's 231, but don't let that put you off.
The difference in performance is miniImal, and it certainly looks the business. I got a sneak preview at a recent event and managed to drive the car for a few miles.
It is absolutely superb, with the kind of stonking performance most of us only dream of. The 2.0-litre turbo is a gem, revving like a dream in the gears, and yet able to trickle along at 30 miles an hour in 5th gear of six.
Everything about this car is at the pinnacle of what makes a great hot hatch.
The steering is positive and precise with loads of feel, the handling therefore is almost perfect, and the roadholding is up there with the very, very best.
The red line is 6,500 but there's little point in taking it that high because the turbo gives it loads of mid-range punch and also helps it pull well from low speeds.
The ride was quite knobbly on some very bad roads in Berkshire but on normal roads it's more than acceptablel and better than other hot hatches like the Golf GTi.
The MINI Cooper S Works is exclusive to the UK and comes at an on the road price of £21,690.
But of course, MINI owners almost invariably load their cars from the massive extra list and the version I dorve was fitted with the Chilli pack, which includes LED headlights and front foglights, leather and cloth upholstery and a multi-function steering wheel.
Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels and a JCW aerodynamic kit together with a throatier and more efficient exhaust system, which even includes a Bluetooth controller to activate Track Mode when having a blast at a track day.
Official fuel return is 48mpg which is similar to the regular Cooper S but better than the full blown John Cooper Works by a margin. Emissions are rated at 130g/km.
I drove the hatch but the new upgrade will probably be available in other cars from the range, and if you're thinking about buying the JCW - drive this one first - you won't be disappointed.