MINI John Cooper Works Review
Mr Cooper Should Approve

Story and photos by Azfar Hashim
16 Feb 2013

The ultimate Mini Cooper is now available with an automatic transmission, making its appeal even wider now - a little too late, or fashionably late? Azfar Hashim decides...

Introduction, Exterior

Heck, you probably see more Gallardo Superleggeras around…

Almost five years ago - yes as in f-i-v-e - yours truly sampled the first modern Mini that was given the special touch by the John Cooper Works team.

That car was a hoot to drive; more good than not. It left a lasting, pleasant impression: small, fast and engaging with really firm gearshift. If you’ve never driven this car, it’s as if you’ve skipped a phase of your life; yes, that is how much of a great car that was.

Not only was it impressionable, it was brilliantly decked out too. And on top of that, a melodious exhaust system that made all the right notes. It’s so good, legendary Mini designer Sir Alex Issigonis would probably approve with both his thumbs pointing upwards.

But seeing how rather, well, uninterested with manual transmission local drivers are and also how it breached the $200k mark, a John Cooper Works Mini became a rarity. Heck, you probably see more Gallardo Superleggeras around…

It used to be manual-only. An automatic wasn’t even offered simply because BMW can't seem to find an auto box suitable for this super powerful Mini. And they also thought fitting a self-shifter won't do justice to John Cooper. 

But we also heard the engineer in charge of suiting the appropriate autobox went home one night and his dog ate the plan. Another story was he went to the Maldives for a holiday and forgot to come back...

Anyway prior to this, if you’re looking for a self-shifting one, there’s the Golf R (or Scirocco R for that matter), S3 or M 135i. And these are practical hyper hatchbacks that can actually accommodate three other passengers with ease.

Suddenly, it looks like the automatic JCW is in for quite a fight for attention…

The exterior is staggering; there’s just something so perfectly right with the JCW, something that was missing from the Cooper S. Maybe it’s this colour combination, or maybe it’s simply because of those yummy 17-inch rims wrapped in 205/45 R-17 Dunlop SP Sport 01 run-flat rubbers. Perhaps it’s those not monstrous roof-mounted spoiler. It could also be the subtle body kit.

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Engine Capacity 1598cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.5:1
Bore x Stroke (85.8 x 77)mm
Power 211bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 280Nm @ 5100rpm
Power to Weight 178.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 6.7s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 236 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 7.4 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF


Body Type 3 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3758 x 1683 x 1407) mm
Wheelbase 2467 mm
Kerb Weight 1185 kg
Boot Capacity 680 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs