A Mini splendored thing
The R56 traces its history back to Jack Brabham, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
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.