True Mini fans covet the brand’s wild side, and if these initial shots are any indication, they’re not likely to be disappointed by the new John Cooper Works Hardtop the British marque plans to officially unveil at the North American International Auto Show barely a month from now.
The three-door, not surprisingly, picks up on the basic design cues of the standard-issue Cooper S Hardtop which Mini re-launched last year, with added side intakes designed to let the new TwinPower Turbo breathe easy. At 228 horsepower, it carves about a third of a second off the 0 to 60 launch time of the previous generation JCW Hardtop.
The maker also claims a significant improvement in handling, declaring that, “Technology for the engine, suspension, body and interior have been derived directly from motor racing and define the exclusive performance-oriented character of the new Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop.”
Visually, the JCW Hardtop undergoes only modest tweaks, with unique front and rear bumpers, and revised front air intakes. Those new side air intakes occupy the spaces taken up by the foglamps in the Cooper S. The car gets some useful aerodynamic tweaks. There’s also a new sport exhaust – and the requisite JCW badging.
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As with the base car, Mini benefits from its alliance with BMW, the TwinPower package directly sharing its technology with the Bavarian parent. The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine has 25% bigger displacement, and it produces 228-hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, increases of 10% and 14%, respectively, compared to the prior model. That’s also the most powerful engine ever fitted under the bonnet of a Mini.
That translates into a 5.9-second launch with the 6-speed automatic – which features wheel-mounted paddle shifters – and 6.1 seconds for the 6-speed manual.
The new JCW Hardtop adopts an electromechanical steering system said to be more precise and direct than other electric power steering systems. Meanwhile, the new sport suspension system is designed to appeal to those who, Mini says, “appreciate authentic race feeling.” It features a single-joint front spring strut axle, and a multilink rear. A less aggressive suspension is also available as a no-cost option.
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An electronically lockable differential is standard issue, but for Mini’s first-ever adjustable dampers a customer will have to check the appropriate box on the options list.
The Hardtop is outfitted with exclusive 17-inch John Cooper Works light alloy wheels. They barely conceal a sport brake system jointly developed with Brembo.
Inside, the JCW Hardtop offers newly developed John Cooper Works sports seats with integrated headrests, designed to keep a driver firmly in place even during aggressive maneuvers.
Other standard features include a unique JCW leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, JCW entry sills and gear shifter, and stainless steel pedals. There’s a rotary knob that allows instant changes to key vehicle settings. And a head-up display system is available.
Mini will reveal the JCW during the Detroit Auto Show’s press days. It will reach U.S. showrooms during the first quarter of next year.
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