The MINI John Cooper Works and Fiat Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari are spicy, special little hatches.
SCARCER than hen’s teeth and cuter than day-old chicks, Singapore’s punchiest MINI hot hatch and funkiest Fiat pocket rocket are seldom seen in the open and never spotted together – until now. Both turbo tots are based on regular three-door hatchbacks (2-litre MINI Cooper S and 1.4-litre Fiat 500), but their technical enhancements and special equipment make them highly irregular. Their prices are high, too, with the new John Cooper Works (JCW) listed at $193,000 and the 695 Tributo Ferrari costing $200,000 back in 2010, when it was showcased during the F1 Singapore Grand Prix week.
You can walk into the MINI showroom today and order a new JCW, but you’ll be walking in circles if you wish to buy a mint 695, which is a limited edition rarer than a Ferrari 599. One has popped up before in the local pre-owned market, but the handful of 695s originally imported into Singapore (three reds, three yellows and one blue) have remained elusive since their arrival. Some of them might have left the country by now. This particular red 695, a lefthand- drive unit, was taken out of storage temporarily for this chilli padi cookout with the JCW. The Italian number looks worse for wear beside the shiny Briton, but is mechanically sound.
MINI’s most powerful motor enables the new John Cooper Works to work hard and play even harder.
This venomous “scorpion” gives a big sting that belies its small 1.4-litre size.
On paper, the JCW is faster, sprinting from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds and hitting a top speed of 246km/h, compared to the Abarth’s 6.9 seconds and 225km/h. At a standstill, though, both runners are equally racy, thanks to their red paintwork, red Brembo brake callipers, “airy” alloy wheels (17-inch on the 695 and 18-inch on the JCW) and purposeful exhaust tailpipes (two pairs for the 695 and one pair centrally mounted for the JCW).
The greatness of redness, from thread stitches to leather patches, continues apace inside the cockpits. Both have been given sporty front seats that provide the driver and codriver with rally-ready support, but those in the 695 are even sportier because they’re carbonshelled Alcantara buckets beautifully made by Sabelt.
JCW’s “Cooper S+” cockpit is less enchanting than the 695’s, but more comforting.
Any driver can feel like an unstoppable “scorpion” king inside this cabin.
More carbon fibre can be found on the Abarth-modified dashboard, where Ferrariinspired transmission buttons have replaced the gearlever, and the stylish paddle-shifters play an active part in the driving. The JCW’s specially designed gearlever is a pleasure to hold and its wheel-mounted paddles are a joy to press, but they’re less memorable than the transmission novelties in the 695. Completing the 695’s hot-seat magic are aluminium pedals and Jaeger instrument meters. All these red hot chilli padis are sure to burn rubber and tongue. Burn, babies, burn.