MINI John Cooper Works: Meet the super Coopers

Two John Cooper Works editions of the latest MINIs share the heart of a champion

SINGAPORE — What’s in a name? Nothing less than the legendary might of British motorsport, when that name is John Cooper and it’s affixed to the latest cars from MINI.

The MINI name itself is synonymous with go-kart handling and boundless excitement behind the wheel, but the John Cooper Works editions of these cars might be the ultimate expression of what MINI embodies — perhaps no more so than the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman...

and the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.

At the core of these two exciting cars is a powerful new engine that puts no less than 306 horsepower at the driver’s disposal. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is: that much sheer power propels the new JCW Clubman from 0 to 100km/h in a scintillating 4.9 seconds, and the JCW Countryman in only 5.1 seconds.

And for the first time in MINI history, these production models can show you what life is like at 250km/h — and that’s only because a speed limiter kicks in. In the compact sports model segment, these two literally lead the pack.

MINI technology, maximum performance
Many things define a John Cooper Works MINI, but the starting point of every one is the heart of a champion. Specially tuned for the John Cooper Works models, the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine features MINI TwinPower Turbo technology that enables it to surpass its predecessor dramatically. It has 75 more peak horsepower, while maximum torque has increased by 100 Nm to 450 Nm.

To make sure the power is reliably and consistently produced, the new engine has a cooling system developed with racing know-how, and to make sure that it’s also a thrill for the ears it has an exhaust system tuned to emit the most distinctive and exciting sounds.

Who was John Cooper?
Who was the man whose name adorns a British icon? John Cooper (pictured below, right, with his son Mike) is best known as a racing driver and engineer, but was a carmaker in his own right, starting up the Cooper Car Company with his father after World War II.

It made nimble single-seater racing cars, and its greatest legacy is the idea of putting engines at the back of the car to improve handling balance. No one did it in Formula One racing before he did, and now it forms the template for every F1 car. Cooper himself downplayed the innovation, saying he did it out of mechanical simplicity since his cars used chain drive from motorbike engines.

But Cooper’s association with Mini began when he realised the sporting potential of the little cars. By turning them into rally-winning machines, he became forever associated with fast, agile versions of cheeky Minis.

He remains a celebrated figure as the father of the motorsports industry in England, and advised BMW on the new Mini until his death in 2000 at age 77.

The impressive new engine comes with a new 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission, with a mechanical differential lock on the front axle and an ALL4 all-wheel drive system for unsurpassed traction. On loose or slippery surfaces where other cars might struggle, the John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman thrive.

Driving pleasure isn’t only measured by stopwatch, of course. The chassis technology of the new MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman has also been comprehensively enhanced to a new level of performance.

The fine tuning is everywhere, from new suspension carrier bearings that improve the front wheels’ camber angles, to readjusted spring and damping systems. The DSC stability control system and the power steering have also been precisely calibrated to give these cars an extremely agile character.

Both models have a newly developed precision strut for the engine compartment, which connects the right and left spring strut domes, along with new strut braces in the undercarriage to further strengthen their bodies. That’s because a rigid core leads to more precision behind the wheel. 

At the same time, electronically controlled dampers means that with a quick flick of the MINI Driving Modes selector, you can instantly choose between a sporty ride or more comfortable one.

Hold your horses
As any skilled driver knows, just as important as going quickly is the ability to stop quickly. Accordingly, the new John Cooper Works MINIs have a redesigned sport brake system that now has large discs of 360mm millimetres at the front and 330mm discs at the rear wheels. Special cooling ducts ensure that the brakes can withstand heavy stops repeatedly.

Given how the brakes are mighty large (and mighty), both models wear 19-inch John Cooper Works light metal wheels in the Circuit Spoke 2-tone design, which fill the wheelarches nicely but also show off the eye-catching, red-coated brake calipers at the front, bearing the John Cooper Works logo.

Just as the brake calipers blend design and function perfectly, the Clubman and Countryman receive a clutch of special styling touches that also add to their performance.

For example, the large air inlets on the front of each car vehicle feed the engine and brakes with hearty doses of cool air, while carefully designed side skirts and rear aprons with integrated diffuser elements help to control the airflow around the cars, making them more stable. It’s the same with the roof spoilers, which are sculpted to reduce aerodynamic lift at high speed. Even the wing mirrors — aerodynamically optimised, naturally — get the JCW touch.

Getting the Works
The John Cooper Works treatment doesn’t stop at the contrasting paintwork that sees the roof and mirrors painted red, nor the logos in the radiator grille and on the tailgate.

The highest performance MINIs are also distinguished by the honeycomb pattern in their front grilles, which in the case of the John Cooper Works Countryman comes with a racy red surround, while a red cross-member stretches across the John Cooper Works Clubman’s grille.

Inside them, there’s also an abundance of racing flair, starting with the John Cooper Works sports seats upholstered in a Dinamica/Leather combination, along with Piano Black interior trim, an especially sporty steering wheel and a distinctive John Cooper Works gear selector.

It’s all topped off with an anthracite headliner, which adds a dark touch that only enhances the racy feel of each car’s interior.

Which of the new John Cooper Works cars is best suited to you? The six-door Clubman promises style and versatility, while the Countryman embodies ruggedness in a useful size. Either body comes with breathtaking performance and striking appearance when the legendary name of John Cooper is attached.

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