MF Reader Review: JCW R56 Engine Kit
The following review written by long time German MF contributor Alexander Lipphardt. Alex is also the owner a JCW GP, making his opinion especially relevant to the new R56 JCW Kit.
As a longtime MINI enthusiast I today had the chance to test-drive the brand new and highly anticipated R56 JCW tuning kit. In germany these kits will be available in the next 2 or 3 weeks or so and I know quite a few MINI dealers (and especially R56 owners) out there who are still waiting for the final delivery Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so I was pretty lucky to take one of the first ever fitted kits (#22) for a spin.
So….where should I start then? Maybe right from the start: It was a Pepper White Cooper S going for close to $40,000 which had almost everything fitted you can currently find on the “MINI Extras” list: Navigation, Leather, Sport Button, JCW Aerokit, JCW Brakes, JCW 18″ JCW Suspension, JCW Wheels etc. In other words, a real nice and mean lookin’ machine!
Fitting the kit took some 6-7 hours and “flashing” the ECU took almost a full day as every R56 needs to be updated with the latest software (and re-booted) before the modified JCW engine software gets uploaded onto the ECU. So you can expect a 2 days job altogether! This is a real pain for every mechanic as flashing a MINI ECU nowadays takes ages compared to the good old R53 MINI where it was just a question of more or less minutes doing this. Further the Works software comes on a CD which is particularly related to the VIN so it is impossible to upload the software onto other ECU’s Ã¢â‚¬â€œ interesting idea!
Visually there is no real difference between the standard R56 exhaust and the JCW exhaust besides the bigger JCW exhaust tips. Its a “non-cat-back” system (as you can see on the photo) compared with the old R53 JCW exhaust. Same thing for the manifold which is not “polished” or anything like that Ã¢â‚¬â€œ just made from more heat resistant material to manage higher engine temperatures.
Thats about enough thoughts on the plain JCW parts. Now it gets interesting Ã¢â‚¬â€œ what is it like driving the Works kit I compared to my JCW GP? Is there a huge difference in terms of performance, sound, handling, power and…..FUN??
So here I go: Sat down, turned on the engine and I really was wondering if that JCW exhaust sound would finally be meaner, or more aggressive as this is something I particularly miss on the new R56 models. From the inside: compared to a standard R56 MINI there is little if any real difference. Maybe a little “deeper” when in neutral or “idle” position. Of course the engine just had a few miles on the clock so I really wonder how the sound may change once it’s broken in? From the outside the change is not bad at all. But you can judge for yourself:
[ Engine Cold ] (Quicktime / High Quality)
The funny thing I noticed is that the exhaust sounded better when it was cold.
[ Engine Warm ] (Quicktime High Quality)
So…. lets drive! I was sitting on the co drivers seat in the beginning. First impression of a passenger after flooring gears 1 and 2 with “Sport button” turned on: this machine is really really moving and kicking forward without having any major traction problems Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a nice surprise! We did not hit the famous german “Autobahn” to do some top-speed testing but I have no doubt that the new Works will run straight down to 240 km/h and more based on my time with it.
The brakes are also just perfect Ã¢â‚¬â€œ maybe not “enough” for driving 20 laps on the “Nordschleife” but in normal conditions this set-up is just more than sufficient. The JCW suspension is also just perfect and allows for excellent handling. The car could have been slightly lower but thats just a personal opinion.
Coming back to the sound question. Wonder what the new R56 Works sounds like at speed? Check these out:
[ Pass 1 ] (Quicktime / High Quality)
[ Pass 2 ] (Quicktime / High Quality)
Now it was my turn to drive. I clearly have to admit: the new Works is bloody fast and the engine is clearly better than the standard R56 version. You get serious power and torque starting from 2400 rpms `till the high 6000Ã‚Â´s. There is never ever a feeling of being underpowered. I also believe that this kit will beat any R53 JCW! But still…..there was something I personally missed. I mean: hey, I am sitting in a Works! It’s just that when I floor my Works GP I always get this feeling that I’m about to take off the ground. I start to sweat, the supercharger is whining beautifully – especially at 4500 rpms and the exhaust sounds like a F-16. Its just pure adrenalin. Maybe I’m a little to “MINI old-school” for missing all of this?
I think it’s the fact that, compared with the old Works generation, the performance and the power-curve of the standard R56 and of course the new R56 JCW is different. This is of course related to the Turbo and I know that comparing the power-curve of a supercharger with the power-curve of a turbo is like comparing apples to oranges Ã¢â‚¬â€œ totally different character and totally different concept!
So what’s my conclusion? Well, if someone would have asked me directly after the ride how the new Works performs I probably would have chosen three words as an answer:
Very powerful understatement!
No question, the new JCW Kit I is really worth every cent and after driving it for the first time, I expect the Stage II JCW Kit to be nothing less than a rocket!
Alex Lipphardt (Macmini from www.newmini-technik.de)
PS: Thanks to my MINI dealer (BMW Hansa) for making this ride possible!
We’ll have our full (and official) review of the kit in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Written By: MF Reader
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