From this week's edition of Autoweek:

The John Cooper Works performance pack for the Cooper S arrives Stateside in April, offering 200-hp and 177-lb-ft in exchange for (gulp) approximately $4,500 when you include installation cost. Other Mini tuning kits exist, of course, several of which promise the same (or more) power for less cash. But the 'Works' package is the only one that comes through Mini dealers, with factory approval and full manufacturer warranty support.

…The JCW Cooper feels only marginally different to the standard Cooper S in urban crawl. Its exhaust note is slightly raspier'a pleasing 'bup-bup-bup' on the overrun' and the supercharger's whine marginally more nasal. The throttle response?already attack-dog keen on the S' is sharper still. Other than that, you?ll wonder if the hole in your account has been worth it.

That is until you get onto empty country roads where this Super Cooper's case improves dramatically. In the middle of the rev counter, a fat seam of can-do torque makes for serious, any-gear overtaking punch (bringing to mind the '60s British bumper sticker: ?You've Been Mini?d!?).

…At the top quarter of the rev range the JCW is better yet, losing the standard S's slight breathlessness. Acceleration has an addictive exponential feel: it pulls harder and harder all the way to redline. With the quick shift of the six-speed transmission lending support and the supercharger's charismatic wail shouting encouragement, it's not long before you've hit 100 mph'and the very real prospect of a night in the gray bar hotel.

The standard chassis bits are more than up to handling the 37 extra horses. Torque steer isn't an issue, certainly without ridiculous first or second gear acceleration over big bumps. The extra power helps to balance the chassis on faster corners if you adopt the age-old front-drive technique of fast-in, fast-out: throw it in at an optimistic speed, accelerate until the front starts to nudge wide and then throttle back into a big, fat zone of exploitable neutrality. It would be an exceptionally well-driven Porsche Boxster that manages to pull ground over the Works S through a sequence of bends.

There you have it. The JCW isn't the right choice for everyone, but if you have the green it's a supurb package. One note, desptite what Autoweek says, the JCW kit for the standard Cooper will not be available in the US.

You can download the MCS JCW brochure in the files section of this website.
Here are the specifications I've heard (note Autoweek's pricing info is different):

  • ON SALE: April
  • PRICE: $4500 (plus 8-9 hours of installation)
  • POWER: 200hp+, 177lb ft
  • CURB WEIGHT: 2700 pounds
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.3 seconds (est.)
  • TOP SPEED: 141 mph (mfr.)