The new John Cooper Works is even more fun to drive with the 6-speed manual transmission.
IF you love working a clutch pedal and changing gears yourself, the manual version of MINI’s most powerful model can be your automotive soulmate on both road and racetrack. Some of you reading this may not have driven a car with a manual transmission. Even fewer people drive one daily. This is because the default gearbox you get with most of the cars in Singapore is an automatic, with two pedals in the driver’s footwell. It’s no secret that three-pedal cars are fast disappearing from our roads.
Well, I drive a “manual transmission” every day. For this petrolhead at least, it’s enjoyable exercising my left leg/foot for the clutch pedal and using my left arm/ hand to row through the gears. So it is with some satisfaction that I get to test a hot new MINI JCW with manual transmission. While the 6-speed automatic John Cooper Works (JCW) is a joy to drive, the 6-speed manual version is even more joyful, because you have full control of the gears, and the gearbox slips sweetly into any of them. On the Mallorca circuit where I drive the manual JCW, it’s streets ahead of the auto version if you want to play hard with the most powerful MINI in history.
The new JCW is powered by a delectable 2-litre, 16-valves turbocharged motor that punches out 320Nm of torque from just a little above idling speed. Maximum twisting force is delivered all the way from 1250rpm to 4800rpm. But the JCW is not merely about torque or power (231bhp between 5200rpm and 6000rpm). The chassis has received highly eff ective tweaks that include lightweight suspension components, Brembo brakes and a stiff er spring/damper setup compared to the Cooper S. The front-wheel-drive MINI JCW takes to the track like a pro, with the grip, poise and traction to humble a V8 racecar. It is so easy to pilot the JCW on a racetrack and have fun while doing so. The manual gearbox adds to the experience.
Playing with the JCW engine’s 231bhp and 320Nm is more satisfying with the manual gearbox than with the automatic.
The car’s front-end grip is only a problem if you get really aggressive (or untidy), but ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged MAX POWER 231bhp at 5200-6000rpm MAX TORQUE 320Nm at 1250-4800rpm POWER TO WEIGHT 191.7bhp per tonne GEARBOX 6-speed manual 0-100KM/H 6.3 seconds TOP SPEED 245km/h CONSUMPTION 14.9km/L (combined) CO2 EMISSION 155g/km PRICE INCL. COE $205,300 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge) even then, standard Electronic Diff erential Lock Control (EDLC) takes care of excessive wheelspin.
Lift your foot off the accelerator suddenly in mid-corner and the JCW tightens its cornering line, with a mild flick of its rear end that doesn’t threaten to develop into oversteer. Also standard on the JCW are Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). In my opinion, the best way to drive the manual version of this automobile on the track is to switch off all the electronic aids, which you can. The manual John Cooper Work is available on special order, but it costs the same as the automatic variant, and the buyer has to wait at least two months for delivery. Even at over $200,000, MINI’s new three-pedal pocket rocket boasts a fun-per-dollar quotient that’s hard to match