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Mighty Mini

Rafay Ansar



People love personalising their Minis, and there's now more choice than ever with the John Cooper Works Tuning kit to boost performance of the Cooper S.

What are its rivals?

The Mini transcends the usual categorisation when it comes to rivals; it's quite possible owners will have traded in anything from a supermini to a supercar such is the breadth of the Mini's appeal. However, as a more specialist model this John Cooper Works Tuning Kit car is likely to appeal to a fairly hardcore driving audience. Obvious direct rivals include cars like the Renaultsport Clio Cup and Vauxhall's VXR Corsa with 888 additions. Go daft with the options and you can count cars like the Golf GTI, Civic Type-R and a host of other larger hot hatches as viable alternatives in the price charts.

How does it drive?

The John Cooper Works Tuning Kit turns the already rapid Cooper S into a far more feisty proposition. Sixty two miles per hour arrives in just 6.8 seconds and if you've got a track or autobahn handy it'll keep on accelerating until you reach 144mph. The performance increases are thanks to the JCW Tuning kit hiking the bhp from 172bhp to 192bhp, torque also increasing. That's a pretty impressive bhp figure when you consider the Mini is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine. Don't confuse this aftermarket kit with the soon-to-be-launched Mini John Cooper Works, that car will boast an even lofty 208bhp and £20,000+ price tag.

Like all Minis the JCW kit equipped Cooper S is a real joy to drive, the boost in power only adding to the enjoyment. The steering is quick and accurate, the engine hugely willing and the handling pin sharp and highly entertaining. Grip levels are high, and the brakes will take all the punishment you can throw at them. Pressing the Sport button sharpens up the responses even further, with even quicker throttle response and altered steering weighting. In short, it's an even more enjoyable Cooper S, which means it's a real grin machine.

What's impressive?

The Mini feels beautifully built, giving it a real quality feel. Even though the Mini has been around for ages now it's unlikely you'll ever tire of it its cheeky good looks. If the rorty exhaust note from the sports exhaust isn't enough to let those around you know this isn't an ordinary Cooper then the additional John Cooper Works badging should leave them in no doubt; those wanting an even more dramatic looking S are able to option a number of styling accessories inside and out. It's this ability to personalise the Mini that undoubtedly appeals to many owners. But with the Cooper S JCW Tuning Kit it's the driving experience that really impresses, the little hot hatch punching hard and thrilling with responsive engine performance and tidy handling.

What's not?

You pay for that sporting ability with a sometimes uncompromising ride, bumpy roads causing the Cooper S to bounce about a fair bit. That sports exhaust can get intrusive on longer journeys, and drive it as it begs to be - hard - and you'll be stopping at the fuel pumps alarmingly frequently; even with it's clever stop-start EfficientDynamics fuel-saving technology. Like all Minis space inside is something of an issue; there's not much of it. The boot is miniscule, and forget sitting in the back unless the driver and front passenger are anywhere near average height. The huge central speedometer looks a bit silly, and isn't that handy to look at and prone to reflections - leaving you to use the digital one on the rev-counter most of the time. Similarly the stereo isn't the most intuitive to use, either.

Should I buy one?

As much as we enjoyed the Mini Cooper S with the John Cooper Works Tuning Kit when we looked at the specific spec sheet we discovered our test car cost a whopping £20,225. That's by no means the most we've heard people have paid for their Mini, but it's still a big pile of money. Of that only £1095 is made up of the tuning kit, the majority of the rest of that taken up with a Chili pack at £2020 - it including air conditioning. Really, with the standard car costing £16,000 cooled air should be standard. The TLC service pack makes ownership inexpensive though, it coving serving costs for up to five years or 50,000 miles. We'd certainly put it on our list to drive if we wanted something to make us smile on the daily commute or back road thrash, but there are cheaper choices out there that thrill just as much.

Specifications of Mini Cooper S , hatchback , John Cooper Works Tuning Kit , 3 dr , 17,095 on-the-road

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Specifications of Mini Cooper S , hatchback , John Cooper Works Tuning Kit , 3 dr , 17,095 on-the-road
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Manufacturer Mini
Model Cooper S
Type hatchback
Trim John Cooper Works Tuning Kit
List Price 17,095 on-the-road £
Length wheelbase 3,714/2,468mm
Height width 1,407/1,683mm
Insurance Group 16
Engine Capacity 1,598cc
Fuel Petrol
Transmission manual
Doors 3
Nil to sixty 6.8 seconds
Top speed 144mph

Manufacturer Mini
Model Cooper S

Manufacturer Mini
Model Cooper S
Miles per Gallon 0.0 miles/gallons

Standard Optional
Alloy Wheels Yes
Air Conditioning £No
Front Electric Window Yes
Rear Electric Window £No
Satellite Naviga £No
Bluetooth £No
Stereo System Yes
Tinted Glass Yes
Leather £No
Leather Interior £No
CD Player Yes
Central Door Locker Yes
Cruise Control £No
Electric Door Mi Yes
Manual Sunroof £No
Electric Sunroof £No
Power Steering Yes
AntiLock Brakes Yes
Anti Theft Device Yes
Driver Air Bag Yes
Passenger Air Bag Yes
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