Part 2: On the Track
In our previous review of the JCW Suspension Kit we focused on performance as it related to public roads. Today we’ll be giving our final evaluation of the kit as it relates to the track.
At the track the JCW Suspension really comes into it’s own. Gone are the pains of the rougher ride and constant concern about bottoming out the front defuser. You’re simply left to appreciate how flat and entirely controllable the car is in corners. It’s also (as it is in stock form) very easy to control with the throttle and eager to rotate. The net is a feel of complete confidence that is only let-down by the lack of ultimate grip in most road (non R-compound) tires.
The track that the suspension was tested on (Putnam Park just outside of Indianapolis) only has one low-speed (3rd gear) corner so the ability of the kit to increase traction coming out of corners wasn’t really a factor. However, in the high-speed corners the extra control and feel (especially in the rear) was quite noticeable. Putnam has a series of “S” turns that can either be a beautiful flowing experience or a transition nightmare. The JCW suspension kit allowed for less roll and in turn more control especially in this area of the track. I was able to make one particular transition without even a tap of the brakes that most cars (including some MINIs) seemed to feel necessary.
If all the track time proved only one thing it’s that the JCW Suspension kit remains the most underrated OEM performance modification out there. The fact that the kit is designed to work as a whole and for a specific car (based on the weight of the options chosen) seems to give it a fluidity on the track that can be missing from some aftermarket set-ups. It’s seemingly unflappable and always eager for the next corner.
I can’t help but feel that the JCW badges given to the JCW engine kit is as appropriately applied to cars with this kit. In some ways it seems a bit more true to the MINI heritage.
Our previous testing of the suspension occurred only on public roads and the score suffered for that. 3.5 (out of 5) is the lowest we’ve ever ranked a JCW product. However with the pain of install component and install costs behind me and the track experience fresh in my mind, I feel obligated to re-visit the score. While I think the 3.5 should stand for the road portion of the test I feel a new, track specific score is in order.
MF (Track) Score: 4.5 (out of 5)
You can read part one of this review (tested exclusively on public roads) below:[ R56 JCW Sport Supension (Road Review) ] MotoringFile
The JCW Suspension is available now at all MINI dealers.
Parts List Clarification: There were a few questions in the previous review about the specific parts that make up the kit. First off yes, all parts are indeed different than anything you can currently get at the factory. This has been confirmed by MINI USA. Secondly the sway bars are (front) 24mm and (rear) 18.5mm in size – both larger than either the sport or standard suspension sway bars.
The JCW suspension was tested on a 2007 Cooper S and was driven at Putnam Park just outside of Indianapolis.