There’s a high­per­for­mance op­tion for ev­ery Mini in the Aus­tralian range — but the JCW hatch is hard to beat

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­

MINI and Cooper are among the great pair­ings, with a decades-long his­tory. Mini now com­pletes the Aus­tralian line-up with the lat­est ad­di­tions to the John Cooper Works bri­gade.

Mini’s her­itage in­cludes nip­ping at the heels of the big boys— and beat­ing them— at Aus­tralia’s mo­tor sport holy ground, Mount Panorama, as well as tear­ing along un­sealed roads in ral­lies. Aus­tralian rally hero Ed Or­dyn­ski started in one and wist­fully rem­i­nisces of the days be­hind the near-flat wheel.

John Cooper grew to mo­tor­ing le­gend sta­tus in the 1950s and 60s, savour­ing suc­cesses in the de­sign and

’ rac­ing of For­mula One and other open-wheel­ers.

Cooper joined forces with the then Bri­tish brand to de­sign the first high-per­for­mance Mini Cooper for the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally.

Mini uses— no, re­lies upon — that ro­man­ti­cism to get on to Aussie drive­ways. The JCW badge rings out in the minds of Aussies, much like HSV, HDT, GTHO and E38. It has more im­me­di­ate im­pact on roads nearer its birth­place in Bri­tain but it’s slowly grow­ing here.

The JCW fit-out adds be­tween $7000 and nearly $10,000 de­pend­ing on the model. Prices start at $50,400 for the en­try-level three-door, $51,800 for the Club­man, $52,600 for the coupe and $55,100 for the road­ster. The JCW GP mini-mon­ster asks $56,900 for the per­for­mance hike. Those look­ing for open-air am­bi­ence with their go-kartesque de­meanour will hunt for the rag­top Cabrio, from $58,500.

Maxi Mini buy­ers will head for the Coun­try­man— only in AWD— at $56,800. The other AWD, the Pace­man at $58,600, tops the list.

Propul­sion is con­sid­er­able from the 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbo four. JCW pow­er­plants get lit­tle treats for the techtypes, in­clud­ing re­in­forced cylin­der heads, sodium filled ex­haust valves and light­ened crank­shaft.

Trans­mis­sion op­tions are six-speed man­ual or au­to­matic (GP man­ual only).

TheAWDset-up in the Pace­man and Coun­try­man is elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled. Nor­mally the urge split is about 50-50 but it can go 100 per cent ei­ther end.

The ex­tra cash buys sports bits and pieces galore. The sound­track is en­hanced by a sports ex­haust, there are tweaked dampers and springs and the Sport mode switch sharp­ens both the tiller and throt­tle re­sponse.

The cabin has race-in­spired pews and steer­ing wheel as well as a 10-speaker Har­man Kar­don au­dio with Blue­tooth and USB links should you tire of the engine. There are au­to­matic bi-xenon head­lights and rain sens­ing wipers.

Cars­guide sam­pled the most manic Mini yet at Tas­ma­nia’s Baskerville Race­way— about as close to a road sur­face as you’ll get while still be­ing able to top 180km/h— driv­ing the

‘‘ stan­dard’’ JCW cars back to back with the GP. The lat­ter de­mands more driver at­ten­tion than the sib­lings, turn­ing in harder, stop­ping more con­fi­dently but fid­get­ing a lit­tle over ir­reg­u­lar sur­faces.

It can hang out the tail if un­leashed from the elec­tron­ics and re­gain­ing the line re­quires all the steer­ing lock and then some if en­thu­si­asm is ex­ces­sive.

The ex­tra grunt is no­tice­able on cor­ner exit, par­tic­u­larly when headed up­hill, and the ad­di­tional sup­port of the sports seat­ing is also worth hav­ing.

The ad­justable coil-over sus­pen­sion can be set to soften the GP for roads but on a track it’s more than amus­ing. Road driv­ing habits weren’t tested but I can’t wait for the school run even if it means mul­ti­ple trips— there is no back bench.


There’s a high-per­for­mance op­tion for ev­ery Mini in the Aus­tralian range but the JCW hatch is hard to beat . The sports mod­els are done up to look the part and en­gi­neered to go hard. The pre­mium over the stan­dard cars means you pay plenty for the ex­pe­ri­ence.

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