Mini Works like a treat; With the potential to be a real wild child, the John Cooper Works is a sharp performer that stands out from the rest of the line-up, as IAN JOHNSON discovers.
EARLIER this year, 25,000 fans from more than 40 countries converged on Silverstone racing circuit to wish the legendary Mini a happy 50th birthday.
It's amazing to think that this car is now so old.
As a young, and somewhat inexperienced, motoring hack in the early 1960s the Alec Issigonis-designed BMC Mini was one of the first cars I tested.
And what a revelation it turned out to be. Although, you have to consider that, at the time, the Morris 1000 was still very much in vogue and the world was just transporting itself into a much more modern automotive age.
The Mini was just the car to power the new thinking. With transverse-engined front-wheel drive and an almost ridiculously small size for the day and age, the Mini spoke a new language to a new generation - that small can be very beautiful.
It immediately became a hit and, although the original type was killed off in the disasters that followed the crash of British Leyland, subsequent custodian of the Mini design BMW gave the whole idea a new spin.
Rather than resurrect the original design and market it as retro wheels, BMW invested heavily in a whole new small car, which did still feature many of the styling cues of the old Mini.
They also introduced a model bearing the name of a man who helped to make the original car such a fantastic success in motorsport: John Cooper.
Harking back to the old days and remembering the best Mini I ever tested - the Cooper S - it was amazing to step into the John Cooper Works model, which is the sensation of the current range.
This is the car for performance fans who want to be different.
Under the bonnet beats a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine boosted by a twin-scroll supercharger. The engine and transmission are adapted from the Mini Challenge race car.
With wild child tendencies, this car is one sharp performer.
It equals in today's standards what the original Cooper S was in its day.
Back then, the Cooper could attain 100mph, which was very fast for a small car, but today's John Cooper Works model ups the ante to 148mph.
The big secret of this car's exhilarating way of doing the business is its torque factor.
This fastest-ever production Mini develops an impressive 260Nm of torque - a figure that can be extended even further to 280Nm due to turbo boost.
Needless to say that the 0-62mph sprint time is impressive at 6.5 seconds. More surprisingly, this remarkable car also has the potential to achieve 40mpg.
The John Cooper Works is brimming with handling technology, including dynamic traction control, electronic brake force distribution, cornering brake control, electronic differential lock control, dynamic stability control and hill assist as standard.
All this may remove a lot of the edge-of-the-envelope stuff of the old Mini Cooper S when it comes to driving enthusiastically, but it is much safer without blunting this car's edge.
Another big sales pull of this car is the option to personalise. In addition to the Chili pack of extras, this test car was packed with goodies that transformed it into a very individual vehicle.
It's come a long way from the days when we thought our Mini was so different if we planted a clip-on headrest onto the driver's seat.
Limited special edition to mark brand's 50th birthday
TO CELEBRATE their half centenary, Mini are set to introduce the most exquisitely finished, highly specified and desirable model yet to bear the Cooper name.
The Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50 will be finished in John Cooper's signature colour of connaught green.
The special edition model is based on the Mini John Cooper Works hatch.
Its 17in cross-spoke alloy wheels are finished in jet black, the xenon headlamps are encased in black internal reflectors, and lightweight and carbon parts are used for the bonnet scoop, tailgate trim, rear apron, mirror caps and interior dashboard.
Black leather seats are edged in red piping and virtually every option available to buyers of the existing Mini John Cooper Works is fitted as standard on the Mini John Cooper Works World Championship 50.
These include a Harmon Kardon hi-fi system, DAB radio, full Bluetooth with USB audio, navigation system, park distance control, heated front seats and a multi-function steering wheel.
Just 250 will be produced and will be available from September with prices expected to start at about pounds 25,000.
Model: Mini John Cooper Works Engine: 1.6-litre supercharged petrol Power: 211bhp 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds Fuel economy: 40.9mpg CO2 emissions: 165g/km Warranty: Three years/unlimited miles Price: pounds 21,225 On sale: Now
TORQUE PLENTY: Back in the 1960s heyday of the Cooper S, the car could achieve 100mph. This thoroughly modern version can now reach 148mph
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jul 17, 2009|
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