27 Jul One Day With a 2015 MINI Cooper JCW
MINI offered me the opportunity to test drive a brand new John Cooper Works coupe for a day. Twenty-fours hours wasn’t a lot of time to really explore and learn all the features of this car, but I did my best to drive it in a bunch of different conditions and see how it faired. The JCW is the performance spec, top of the line model of the Cooper. This car came with pretty much every option on it.
The exterior has unique front and rear lower facias with an array of openings for either sucking air in for chucking it out the back. The dark British racing green paint is accented with racing stripes on the hood and and solid red mirrors and roof panel with a spoiler in the back. The car retains a high level of cuteness from the chunky rounded shapes but it also looks pretty aggressive in person.
The interior has evolved far from the spare functionality of the original MINI. This model showed an increased amount of tech creep from parent company BMW. The infotainment system in particular is controlled by an iDrive-esq rotary knob that has a touch pad on top for handwriting letters and numbers. There’s a lot of interior mood lighting throughout the cabin which can be color adjusted.
Driving the JCW can be done in three modes, Green, Mid and Sport. I spent most of my time in either Green or Sport. Throttle and steering are flattened out in Green mode but not too much to make driving dull. Sport tightens everything up and increases the noise coming out of the exhaust. This is a turbo car but there isn’t much of any lag to speak of and off throttle, there’s a hint of throaty back flow into the exhaust. My only nag is that the steering and suspension didn’t have the same quickness and snap that the previous generation had. The softer ride was nice on the highway but the car didn’t feel as sharp as I wanted.
Overall the MINI was fun to drive and the tech features worked well. Even connection a phone via Bluetooth worked for me which isn’t a good track record I have with cars. One day wasn’t enough to head out and explore some twisty roads in Pennsylvania this time but hopefully another chance will come along soon for a longer road trip.