What's in a badge?
More than just a badged special edition, the 2009 Mini John Cooper Works bumps the power and handling to a level above the standard Cooper S.
The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine breathes easier through a John Cooper Works sport exhaust and, with the help of tuning, outputs 32 more ponies (208 hp) and 15 more foot-pounds of twist (192 lb-ft of torque).
Zero to sixty
Sixty miles per hours comes from a stop in 6.2 seconds before eventually reaching a top speed of 147 mph, but straight line performance isn't the purpose of a Mini, especially one like the Mini JCW. Where the JCW Cooper shines is in the turns.
12.4-inch Brembo brakes bring the Cooper to a stop over and over without fade.
The Mini's interior is almost TOO quirky with odd design treatments. The huge center-mounted speedometer integrates the audio controls with the exception of the volume control, which is down below the with the climate controls.
At the track
Around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the JCW Mini performed admirably. The little coupe displayed surprisingly little understeer, taking the turns as if on rails.