A Mini splen­dored thing

The R56 traces its his­tory back to Jack Brab­ham, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

IF AT first you don’t suc­ceed, try again. That’s what Mini has done with its head­lin­ing John Cooper Works model. Though it is harsh to dis­miss the first R53 ver­sion of the JCW as un­suc­cess­ful, it wasn’t all it could be. So Mini owner BMW has im­proved the breed for the new R56.

The last JCW was more of a retro­fit­ted parts kit sup­plied through the John Cooper Works tuning arm, than a proper Mini model.

The new car is the real deal with Mini tak­ing con­trol of the JCW brand and de­vel­op­ing the road car— hatch and Club­man — along­side its Mini Chal­lenge racer.

That means the JCW earns its place at the top of the Mini heap above the Cooper and Chilli mod­els.

It is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion for the brand, given the strong racing her­itage of the orig­i­nal Mini and John Cooper, the man who ran Jack Brab­ham to two For­mula One world ti­tles.

Mini is push­ing the links to the Chal­lenge rac­ers hard and with good rea­son. The en­gine is the same one found in the track cars.

The 1.6-litre tur­bocharged four­cylin­der pow­er­plant pro­duces 155kW and 260Nm; with a fur­ther 20Nm avail­able on over­boost.

It has new pis­tons, valves, tur­bocharg­ers, in­take and ex­haust sys­tems on top of the stan­dard Cooper S en­gine.

But for all the power, Mini hasn’t for­got­ten that the world craves en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly cars. Fuel econ­omy is an im­pres­sive 6.9 litres/ 100km for the hatch and 7.0 litres for the Club­man on the EU cy­cle and the en­gine al­ready meets the strin­gent Euro 5 emis­sion stan­dards yet to be in­tro­duced.

The com­pany has gone to work on the car’s han­dling and other per­for­mance mea­sures. There are up­graded brakes, sus­pen­sion, gear­box and a re­cal­i­brated elec­tronic- sta­bil­i­ty­con­trol sys­tem and trac­tion con­trol.

An elec­tronic diff-lock con­trol works when the sta­bil­ity con­trol is switched off.

Though the car has been tough-

MINI IS OF­FER­ING A RANGE OF PER­FOR­MANCE PARTS TO LET CUS­TOMERS GO FUR­THER

ened up, Mini is of­fer­ing a range of per­for­mance parts to let cus­tomers go even fur­ther.

Cross-drilled brake discs, an aero­dy­namic kit that in­cludes a wing and rear dif­fuser, a strut bar and sus­pen­sion up­grades are all on the op­tions list.

Also avail­able are in­te­rior up­grades that in­clude racing seats, sports steer­ing wheel, car­bon-fi­bre gear lever and hand­brake and big­ger 18-inch wheels.

The JCW is based on the Chilli S model, so the base pack­age for the car is solid.

Prices start at $48,800 for the hatch and $51,300 for the Club­man.

The Cabrio ver­sion of the JCW be on the road un­til the up­dated soft-top emerges next year. With the ba­sic mod­els due by the sec­ond quar­ter, the JCW prob­a­bly won’t land on our shores un­til the mid­dle of next year.

De­spite start­ing late in the year, Mini Aus­tralia ex­pects to sell 60 JCWs by the end of this year and is aim­ing for 150 next year.

Red hot: the John Cooper Works sits right at the top of the Mini fam­ily with new pis­tons, valves, tur­bocharg­ers, in­take and ex­haust sys­tems.

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