We knew, though, that Mini’s new Cooper-based John Cooper Works (JCW) model was on its way to local shores, and based on the immense capabilities of the previous R50 and R56 JCWs, we looked forward to a highly entertaining scrap for segment supremacy.

Arriving at the CAR office in the same Chilli Red of a previous-generation long-termer from five years ago, the new F56-generation Cooper JCW boasts similar menace to that vehicle. Its front-end features a mélange of functional vents and air intakes of different shapes and sizes in conjunction with a piano-black grille cross member and a smattering of chrome-look trim. More apparent on the JCW than its lesser S-badged sibling is the intercooler that peeks out from behind the lowest aperture; it clearly signals the model’s performance intent.


The profile is enhanced by model-specific side sills and, on our test unit, the wheelarches were filled by optional 18-inch alloys that, though attractive in overall design, drew criticism from the CAR team for the convex contours of the wheels’ spokes. At the rear, a roof-mounted spoiler helps keep the JCW’s backside planted to the asphalt, while a new rear bumper with more vents houses dual tailpipes that exit dead centre (as before).