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MF Review: JCW Suspension at the Track

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

Parts Availability

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.

Written By: Gabe

  • lavardera

    video?

  • Victor

    It is true that the dampers, bump stops are different. The way bars are .5mm larger then Stock Sports suspension (Witch is 11.58% stiffer in the front and 8.7% in the rear over factory sports, which is a large improvement over stock setup). Coupled with the springs this is a good street/OEM setup. I think it is a better value then the factory sports.

    nice review, nice setup.

  • lasersailor

    video password?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    video?

    I’ve specifically decided to not post any videos of the track-time on MF at this time.

    video password?

    I see you’ve found the video on my “other” site :) I recently took off the password protection so you should be able to get to the post without the password.

  • nervous

    I know nothing of track driving – looks like fun. Do you drive with your windows down?

  • lavardera

    fantastic – thank you. I suppose its time for those new tires now.

  • MiniMark

    Other site? Pretty please.

  • lavardera

    you can find it if you just think ABOUT it

  • MiniMark

    I’m just in from a hard days graft and can’t be arsed. I don’t even know Gabe’s last name. How about you email me at limericklad_2000@yahoo.com and let me know? Pretty pretty please with sugar on top.

  • MiniMark

    It’s ok, found it.

  • Jon E

    I took a look at the video. Looks like great fun. It would be really interesting to be able to listen to conversation and instruction that was occuring. The MCS really held it’s own against some other pretty capable cars. I’m impressed. The long straight appeared to be the only place on the track where the MCS was slightly less capable. Of course the driver has a lot to do with the demonstrated ability on the track. I intend to soon be the proud owner of a new MCS and will have to take a look at what some of the local clubs have to offer in the way of similar events.

    Gabe: What wheels and tires were you using? Do you change out your wheels & tires for these events, or do you run on your street tires? If using street tires, were they shaved? I would think that street tires with full depth tread would take quite a beating at an event like this.

  • Jon

    From the pictures on Gabes Flickr looks like he ran on his normal street tires, 18 OS Ultralegga with Kumho SPT’s, does look like the tires took a bit of a beating but nothing to bad.

    Very nice run Gabe, really look forward to pushin the new R56 around the track. Looks like the JCW kit is a winner for sure by what the video shows.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Gabe: What wheels and tires were you using? Do you change out your wheels & tires for these events, or do you run on your street tires? If using street tires, were they shaved? I would think that street tires with full depth tread would take quite a beating at an event like this.

    I ran my standard road Kumho Escta SPTs. I don’t see the point of shaving street tires as they’ll be shaved by the pavement soon enough ;-)

  • snid

    Looks like motoringfile might need to do a newbie’s guide to HPDE events soon. I’d volunteer to help / provide some video footage of the base Cooper on the track.

  • 1825vine

    Need more hint to find the video.

  • Jackson

    hi! I Fixed the JCW suspension Kit but exclude the spring. Was told the spring doesnt reduce the height.any comment?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Yes – the spring does reduce the ride height by .5cm. You can see the difference here: before / after

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    hi! I Fixed the JCW suspension Kit but exclude the spring. Was told the spring doesnt reduce the height.any comment?

    Yes – the spring does reduce the ride height by .5cm. You can see the difference here: before / after

    Need more hint to find the video.

    Hint.

  • Jackson

    YEs i saw it, but my dealer say the JCW spring is the same height as the original. Do you have the part number so that i can refer to my dealer? Thanks alot dude!!

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    YEs i saw it, but my dealer say the JCW spring is the same height as the original. Do you have the part number so that i can refer to my dealer? Thanks alot dude!!

    Your dealer seems to be misinformed. Here’s the official MINI USA release we posted last month: JCW Sport Suspension Officially Released

  • Jackson

    Ok let me update them on the spring! =p Thanks alot Gabe!

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  • Dr Obnxs

    What about front camber? Is the R56 hobbled out of the box like the R53 with near zero front camber?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Pingback: JCW Suspension Kit? - MINI2 - MINI Forum

  • Augie

    Great review Gabe! I just recently upgraded my 2008 MCS to this suspension and I couldn’t be happier! To me, it feels like a perfect compromise vs. the standard stock suspension. I thought the standard suspension was fine until I really pushed it then I discovered it’s limitations. I would highly recommend the JCW suspension to anyone that drives a bit more spirited and/or visits the track at least 1 or 2 times per year. A+ for me!

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  • Halifax

    Hi Gabe, What tire pressures do you recommend for the JCW on the track? I run Nitto NT01’s … I know that it’s personal preference and trial and error, but I would appreciate a hint as to where to start. Thanks!

  • Pingback: JCW Suspension Kit? - Page 3 - MINI2 - MINI Forum


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