JCW MINI to Get Standard Suspension

Since the JCW kits were officially released at Geneva a few weeks back, MINI enthusiasts have been clamoring for more details on the cars and the rational behind some of the decisions. Initially we reported the car would come with the stock suspension offered on the normal MINI Cooper S. However some disbelief on the part of MINI enthusiasts coupled with some questionable translated press releases made things less than clear.

However based on MINI sources we can now definitely confirm that the new JCW MINI will come from the factory equiped with the “standard” suspension. That means if you want the optional sport suspension you’ll need to order it as part of the sport package or as an a la carte option. The same goes for those wanting the ultimate suspension choice, the JCW dealer installed suspension kit. Like the JCW aero-kit and the JCW accessories, it’ll have to be ordered as an accessory from your dealer and installed after the car is delivered.

Why did MINI choose it’s softest suspension for it’s sportiest model? We’ve been told that the answer is in who is buying the car. For the last couple of years the average MINI owners has been subtly shifting and more general consumers have been coming into the fold. This has led MINI to look at the new JCW as less of a complete package and more of a clean slate that allows owners to tailor the car to their specific needs. The upside is that it doesn’t force anyone to pay for options they don’t need and it allows the car to be more accessible to more people. The downside of course is that the stock JCW isn’t truly as sprty of a car as it could have been.

Inside the JCW MINI will come standard (in the US market and elsewhere) with the anthracite headliner and the piano black dash. Exclusive on the car will also be the a 150 mph speedometer and an illuminated shift-knob.

Other exclusive items included will be the JCW 17″ wheels and the new four piston JCW brakes. However both will be available as dealer accessories later in the year.

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  • lavardera

    Well thanks for clearing that up once and for all.

  • mnicpt

    So for those of us who want the JCW as it should be, (a BMW M-like car), we get to pay the exhorbitant dealer install fees. I’m ok with it being a clean slate, but it would be nice to have the suspension, aero kit and the like to be factory installed.

  • mike

    Is this the MF April’s fools joke? 🙂

  • Mac

    the shift knob is not illuminated – its just red 😉 further there will be works badge on the dashboard

  • Craig

    MINI will also be offering a gold badges and an air ride suspension as factory options on the JCW.

  • Volker

    First off, I don’t trust anything I read today. Second, if it is an Aprilfools joke, it could be funnier.

    The factory MINI Cooper S JCW is incomplete because the general customer is now interested in their brand ? What are they sniffing in Munich ?

  • newmarek

    I seriously want to buy this car. And I can understand why they didn’t include the suspension (something that my wife will acctually be happy to hear), but I can’t help but feeling like this isn’t the best value. I wish they gave us an upgraded seat option, sat nav or anything really. Just one more perk is all I really need to sway me. I just feel like when I buy this car I am going to be doing something dumb and best friend with a mazdaspeed 3 is going to laugh at me for buying a car that is slower and way more expensive then his.

  • eager2own

    Yep, either a joke or tomorrow we’ll be reading about the fact that the MCS JCW will not come with a Turbo unless you order it a la carte because the MINI buying public is priamrily interested in maximizing mpg.

  • rhawth99

    In response to average (and below average) Mr. and Mrs. Ugly American now making up 90% of all MINI buyers, MINI announced today that the JCW MINI will come with a specially detuned turbocharged engine that outputs an amazing 140 hp! Combined with the 10 speed automatic transmission (the only transmission available), the JCW MINI will return an amazing 55 mpg highway and 45 mpg city. Suspension changes include softer shocks and springs supplied by Tata Motors of India. As befitting of a vehicle with such sporting pretenses, the bucket seats will be replaced by bench seats produced by GM.

    Soft purple light rings will surround the instrument cluster as well as the automatic gear shift knob and gently bath the interior in soothing purple majesty. Neon purple light rings will glow brightly below each rocker panel as well as around each license plate. Of course, a large fart can will replace the standard exhaust tips.

  • dave

    the said explanation for this doesn’t really make sense. the only reason that makes sense is bmw being on the cheap. cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap. cheap. it makes as much sense as giving the m3 standard suspension from the 320d. cheap cheap cheap cheap. did you guys know that bmw made less $ than audi last year even tho more bmw’s were sold in the us? it’s ‘cuz of the exchange rate. audi sold fewer cars, so lost less $

  • Frank

    Do you people even like MINI? You sound like a bunch of whiners!

  • rhawth99

    April Fool’s Frank!

  • IZZY

    Sad news from MINI.

    I expected a JCW car that was special like a ///M Car.

    Now I need to get a JCW spend a fortune on options to create a true JCW. Then when i need to sell the car the dealer will not give me my money back for those options!!

    Looks like i will just go for a ///M Car.

  • cct1

    What a shame, and what a missed opportunity…Let the base Cooper and S be the “clean slate”, and give the hardcore enthusiasts a hardcore car–which should have been the JCW–should have had a different look, and balanced performance upgrades instead of what we got (The traditional U.S. approach of throwing more HP into the car, ignoring handling).

    I don’t necessarily want the JCW to be accessible to the masses–I want it to fill a performance niche rather than a status niche, which I fear will be the end result of this.

    Maybe, just maybe, there will be something special, more limited–more GP like, down the road.

  • Mark DeRosa

    The suspension should have been tuned for the cars power and braking.

    Car 29200 Color 500 JCW Suspension 1800 installed

    The minimum price for the car will be 31500 without a single additional option.

    29000 was my breaking point so I will keep my R56 JCW dealer car.

  • MINIme

    I just spoke with someone very close to the Colorado project and word is “the SAV will not only have AWD, but will also come standard with all the JCW upgrades, as well as the JCW suspension and body kit. The R60 is purported to have 255 HP and weigh in at a mere 2000 lbs, despite it’s less than MINI size.” He indicated that, “MINI does not want to waste all the technology on the current platform” and that “the current R56/JCW is just a beta test mule for some of the equipment that will be standard for the R60.” He also said to look for a MSRP on the R60 of one horses ass.

    Good day!

  • MINI is missing the point here, and their best chance to really define JCW as a separate model as they are deciding to make it. It was the perfect chance to give an R56 the handling of an R53, maybe with tighter steering as well. Oh well.

  • Jon

    I can say with no humor that Mini has lost my business. I believe my view on the R60 has been offered and Mini has pretty much turned its back on its current community with what I think is a completely lame and weak reasoning for this car.

    I can safely say the R53 is the last new Mini I will ever own! The base fact is I spend as much time as possible on the track and there are a ever increasing number of vehicles out there that have the combination of unique looks and superior performance to the Mini. Good job Mini on throwing a wrench into your fan base with your sad choices on the Factory car.

  • nervous

    Approximately what is the install charge (US) of the $1,295 JCW suspension?

  • lavardera
    It was the perfect chance to give an R56 the handling of an R53, maybe with tighter steering as well.

    Heh? The R56 has better handling than the R53. Doh! Its another april fools..

  • cze33r

    Quote: “For the last couple of years the average MINI owners has been subtly shifting and more general consumers have been coming into the fold”

    I have no problem with is, but get them into a Cooper or stock Cooper S, the JCW factory car should be for the enthusiasts among us who will appreciate it for it’s engineering not just because it’s the most expensive MINI you can buy.

  • Frank

    Jon, you’re a wrench! MINI wasn’t started just to make you happy. It’s goal is not only to make the MINI better but also to make money. It’s not like they aren’t giving you the option to get an upgraded suspension. At the same time they are giving people with other life styles a chance to enjoy the MINI.

    P.S. The R56 already handles better than an R53.

  • Mozza

    Hmmm, as an aside I’m not seeing anything from MiniUSA mentioning the upgraded Hi-Fi that they’re getting in England, or the door sills for that matter. By the way Mac an official email from a Mini executive to the NY auto show staff which I happened to have forwarded to my inbox contradicts what you’re saying about the illuminated shift know. I hope you’re right about the logo on the dash though. Here’s the actual email sent from a Mini, notice it seems they’re still deciding on whether to include the JCW spoiler apparently!

    Differences between JCW kit and JCW model: Higher strength Pistons (different alloy), crank shaft, upgraded turbo with ?? PSI (8bar = 11psi on stock S) 208 vs 189 HP, New JCW logo (no S logo on car), piano black dash, anthracite headliner, alcantera steering wheel NOT standard, illuminated shift knob, spoiler may or may not be standard, specific 17 inch wheels with only performance tires, brakes 12.4 front rear 11 4 piston Brembo brakes, only on 2009, July 14th for JCW models, suspension same as Cooper S, side marker is unique, no LSD (has EDLC electronic Differential Lock Control)- brake system will simulate a LSD, DTC dynamic traction control (like DSC, but not as obtrusive during agressive driving- also better in snow as you can power out of the snow)- first on the 135

  • Jon

    Well Frank, have whatever view you want on my personal view. The base fact is though that I am not the only one that feels this car came in short of expectation as what you can read on a variety of posts since the specs on the Factory came out.

    Still think Gabe hit this idea perfectly.

    “I understand the idea behind not making the JCW Aero-kit standard on this car, but I don’t like it. This new JCW car needs to be special. It needs to look special and it needs to have almost a mystic quality about it. Sure the wheels are nice and the faux side vents look unique, but it’s just not enough.”

    I have no doubt about the R56 handling but still prefer the interior of my R53 and the howl of the supercharger, to draw me away from this I personally would need something more than just another Mini kit car.My issue isn’t with the cost, but more that no matter how much anybody spends this car will look just like every other Mini on the street.

    Maybe Mini wants to hide it since the performance gains are quite tiny over the JCW kit on the street. 😉

  • Andre

    “Maybe Mini wants to hide it since the performance gains are quite tiny over the JCW kit on the street. ;)”

    Or maybe its for the mini performance enthusiast and any old cooper s could get the brakes, badges, wheels, and aero kit and look just like the JCW putting the JCW aero kit wouldnt make a difference in the styling to do that it would need exlusive things like the GP

    Also this totally has to be april fools I know it was hard to interpret but in all the press releases they talked about a tuned or sport suspension, this totally takes it away from becoming the enthusiast MINI sports car everyone wanted

  • Mozza

    Jon we get it, you think the JCW suspension and at the very least the JCW aero(preferrably a unique aero) should have been included and I like many happen to agree with you. The problem is you’ve stated your opinion numerous(at least 20) times now and we all know where you stand so I don’t see the point reiterating the same stuff over and over. If you’re hoping that the more you say it the more the likelihood of someone who works for MINI seeing your complaints is then I really think you’re barking up the wrong tree. If you don’t want to buy the car then don’t buy it, end of.

  • Great post! Well actually – it’s the comments I’m enjoying 😉

  • PS: Can’t get bigger images – clicking the image gives next, not bigger 🙁 and clicking “link” leads to broken page

  • GregW

    By making things optional you are creating a situation where the owner can say its a JC Works car even with the minimalist amount of options. How do you compare a works car with a JCW gear knob with that of a car with full modifications when it is still called a “Works” car?

  • Jon

    Very well stated Greg, the question will be what is a Factory JCW. We will see everything from a competent track day car to basic model with less than ideal handling. For my view this just leave the car with no clear definition what it is.

  • Bob H.


    You’re wrong. Jon is not a wrench and MINI was started to make him happy. How is it we keep getting the basics wrong? Geesh… On a lighter note, I did hear MINI will install the illuminated JCW shifter for $1195… 🙂

  • Can’t get bigger images – clicking the image gives next, not bigger 🙁 and clicking “link” leads to broken page

    Either your ISP is blocking Flickr (some places of work do this) or Flickr was momentarily down. It currently works here.

  • lavardera

    No, its not Ian – I’m getting the Oops message when I try to click through to Flickr too. Something is hosed there.

  • Yes, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbridger/ gives “Oops” … You’re not set up as private or something on Flickr, are you Gabe? (PS: Not blocked – at home, and I can get to other Flickr contacts)

  • Yes, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gbridger/ gives “Oops” … You’re not set up as private or something on Flickr, are you Gabe?

    For the record it’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/bridger/ (if you really want to see my vacation photos)

  • Jon

    Nice shots Gabe btw

  • nuvolari

    Can we get back on topic, please?

  • Jon

    Just got off the phone with my MA to get my money back that I have had down on the Factory car for almost 14 months and have given up my #1 spot for the Factory car at my dealership. Time to look for another toy.

  • Doug
    We will see everything from a competent track day car to basic model with less than ideal handling. For my view this just leave the car with no clear definition what it is.

    Nail, meet head.

  • mowse

    Frank. IMO as an owner of an ’07 stage one JCW with JCW suspensions and a ’05 MCS with standard S suspension, the R53 “feels” like it handles much better. Perhaps on a track the R56 may post better handling stats(does it?)but it does NOT have the beloved “go cart” feel. Ifelt since the MC and the MCS R56 allowed the “blank slate” options, the factory JCW should have had the suspension,bodykit,as well as other doo dads. Go ahead and charge us for it but at a bit of a discount(vs ala carte). I originally thought this was a bargain until I learned the wheels were merely 17″ vs proper 18″ JCW wheels which I dropped 3k for. BTW, this being an open forum, I back Jon’s right to voice his opinion as often as he wishes.

  • For the record it’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/bridger/ (if you really want to see my vacation photos)

    Then that’s the problem – the gallery links are to “gbridger”

  • Once again BMW shows how money hongery it is. A JCW car with a plushy suspension. Back in the early 2000’s JCW meant something Now BMW has screwed it up as well, Thank GOD for ALTA!

  • Then that’s the problem – the gallery links are to “gbridger”

    Oh you mean the “link” in each photo. In the future please email me directly via the contact link so it doesn’t take away from the conversation here.

    BTW clicking the image is always meant to give you the next image.

  • IMO as an owner of an ‘07 stage one JCW with JCW suspensions and a ‘05 MCS with standard S suspension, the R53 “feels” like it handles much better. Perhaps on a track the R56 may post better handling stats(does it?)but it does NOT have the beloved “go cart” feel.

    There’s a big difference in a car having 10% more steering feel and a car that handles better. The R56 handles better in every measurable way. Better yet it has a propensity lift-off over-steer (something an R53 could only do with aftermarket trickery) making the car more toss-able and in turn more fun.

    Both cars are great but we need to try to be fair to each of them despite our own preferences.

  • Jon

    Firmly agree that the stock R53 doesn’t handle as nice as the stock R56, which I still think is better in many ways. They are however very different cars in many ways, but both are way to soft and need serious aftermarket loving.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think the R56 is a very good car. I have just been waiting for a factory performance car from Mini, and while the John Cooper Works Cooper is a decent base to build one on I am less sure that its anything incredibly desirable.

    I really think this was a opportunity for Mini to take a serious attempt at developing a class leading car. Just about everything I read about the Mini in magazines and on the web centers around performance. Its a topic that is huge topic on all the Mini boards. It does seem Mini really hasn’t figured this out. I think a part of the reason is with developing a true performance Mini could step into the performance world of BMW, something I think they don’t want.

  • nuvolari

    Jon, just curious, what do you think of the R60 “Colorado”?

  • Jon

    That it will be a successful car, especially in the states with our SUV obsessed owners. 😉

    However lets just hope its fully developed and not left as a kit car as they have left the Factory JCW.

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  • Andre

    OK just got on here on the 2nd and really want to know something…. WHO DROPS A BOMB LIKE THIS ON APRIL FOOLS DAY, it gave me atleast alil hope the story was b.s. I realy wanted this car but just to make it in the realm of performance it goes into the same price range as the 135i which is hella faster, i dont get it value isnt their and now the handeling, MINI’s iconic trate doesn’t come stock idk

  • nuvolari

    idk indeed, Andre.

  • Dr Obnxs

    What all the bitchers and moaners are forgetting (except one) is that the exchange rate is hitting european car sales square in the nuts. Last I checked, it was $1.58 dollars to the Euro… So At that exchange rate, my $25k 02 MCS should have been just under $40k. Keeping options out of base cars means that they will be price competitive in the market, or at least a viable purchasing option. Not moving some Mini (Clubmass, Crossman) production to spartenburg now seems in hindsight to be one of the dumbest moves in the world. So what that Magna Sytar or whatever has experience. That doesn’t mean squat if a large chunk of your target market can’t afford the freakin car!

    Jon, you get my respect for sticking to your guns, but you’ve got the market savvy of a brick. If the car has staying power, you’ll be like the (hypothetical) guy who gave up his place in line on the original Mustang Shelbys because they didn’t come “complete” from the factory…. Go ahead and root for a “niche” or “halo” car that will sell in incredibly small numbers without some serious subsidies from the factory. Heck, throw out the subsidies, and have them sell only a couple $45k factory JCW cars… You’ll get what you want, and the company won’t grow. Where will BMW money go then? But I forgot, if Mini tanks by not building what the market wants, you’ll get even MORE exclusivity! Sorry, I’m just a dumb-ass.


  • Impulsive

    This car is a FAILURE by any measure. Like Jon, it is OFF my list of potential purchases.

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  • Jon

    Heyya Matt, believe me that I hear where you are coming from. I have seen a number of 37k+ optioned cars leave both my local dealerships. I have see a few optioned 40k cars, and I know more than a few that have tacked on many thousands of dollars with performance upgrades. I honestly believe that a 38k+ performance Mini would sell well IF it were built to hold with other cars in its price range. I do believe BMW would never allow this because of the 135i.

    My problem with this is just this, how successful would the M cars be if they were built with the same ethic? What is a Factory JCW, ordinary looks with slight performance increases with a soft suspension?? In many ways its a muddied as what is a JCW kit, is it a bare bone car or is it an option heavy car. The base issue is they are treating this car exactly like a kit.

  • Alan Smithee

    A failure by ANY measure? Other than the various $50k+ Lotus models, how many new cars in the US market weigh under 2,600lbs and have over 200hp?

    It may be a failure in your opinion, but for some of us it is exactly what we want. Yes, at least the $500 sport suspension should be standard…it doesn’t cost BMW any more to make…but as was stated by somebody else, our currency is weak, and most people serious about performance will yank the suspension anyway. Marketing doesn’t want to alienate 75% of buyers by making a stiff JCW setup standard. A bummer for sure, but it is understandable.

  • Volker

    Matt, I have to disagree with you on the currency issue. You compare it like you have to convert your US$ into Euro, go over there and buy the car. Of course that would be killer with the current exchange rate, no argument there. But lets not forget that they always need to include the market in this calculation. Before the Euro, the price for a car could gap as much as 40% or even more throughout western Europe. It worked essentially like the grey market works for Cameras. Manufacturers weren’t happy with you bypassing your local dealer and going to Portugal instead, so they declined the warranty etc.

    What I wanted to say: the manufacturers are used to the currency issues and I think their process looks a little bit like this:

    -I need to run my factory close to full load to stay efficient. – Having costs in Euro, I prefer selling for Euro. – How many units can I sell in Europe (for Euro)? – If I sell for US$, I will get less Euros because of the exchange rate. – I can live with getting less as long as I don’t pay more for production (+costs) than I get from sales. – If I could sell more cars for Euro than for US$ I would be stupid not to do it, in that case I will reduce the number of units I export to the US market and assign the units to Europe instead. – If I play with the idea to increase my prices in the US I’m running into the risk to lose sales to the competitors that are able to keep lower prices (domestic or foreign that produce in the US). – If I use my earnings from Europe and exchange them to US dollar (to pay my chinese manufacturers which are still being paid in US$) I’m making a nice cut that covers easily the numbers I lose with sales in the US.

    So for them it is more like taking the good with the bad. And they love to do that anyway if you look at the last quarter numbers. BMW was only in the green because of MINIs + 26% or so… BMW alone was -1.8% I think.

  • Jon

    I still think the biggest bang for the buck with the R56 is the JCW kit. Only slightly down on HP, near identical on torque and can be fully equipped for a tad over the factory car. I am sure Mini will sell plenty of these cars, though a large number of people looking for performance will go elsewhere.

  • Volker

    I think I made my descision. As I’m gonna put a lot of extras into my next MINI anyway, I will go with a R56, get some extras (leather etc., nothing with engine/performance), get the Aero kit and live with less hp or go 3rd party/dealer kit. If MINI would have included the Aero kit for the base price I might have gone with the JCW, still put some extras in and take the more hp as a nice to have.

  • Not a bright move, MINI! Put on the uprated brakes and suspension, and give us some better seats. Is this a drivers car or a boulevard cruiser? Leave off the flashy shift knob-that’s another pure gimmick too.

  • Brian

    THe Factory car, in My opinion should have been:

    Engine kit + Aero Kit + Plus JCW suspension + Seats.

    Brakes could have been listed as an option for those who track the car alot.

  • Alan Smithee

    Brian…at what price? $29k? Very wishful thinking.

    IMO, for $29k it should be engine kit, brakes, sport suspension, wheels; expensive seats and JCW suspension as factory options. I can’t stand the concept of wasting raw materials taking brand new parts off a brand new car, and using BMW’s mechanics of questionable competency at inflated rates to do it. With this set-up BMW’s bottom line on the car wouldn’t change much, and the JCW would have at least some handling improvement over the MCS, without alienating those that won’t see the track.

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  • Mowse

    Alan. You think Mini would alienate 75% of factory JCW buyers by forcing them into a stiffer suspension? I would venture to say they are alienating(not necessarily preventing)100% of the JCW buyers by offering a stock suspension. Is there ANYBODY out there who is considering a stage one or two JCW and not getting at least the $500 upgrade if not JCW/aftermarket???

    Gabe, you contradict yourself regarding the steering feel/handling of R56/R53. Again, IMO the R56 JCW does not restore the “go cart” feel of stock (much less JCW) R53 suspension.

    Kinda thought everone agreed on that.

  • Gabe, you contradict yourself regarding the steering feel/handling of R56/R53. Again, IMO the R56 JCW does not restore the “go cart” feel of stock (much less JCW) R53 suspension.

    I’m at a loss for where you see a contradiction. The area where the R53 inherently feels 10% better is the steering – not the suspension.

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  • mowse

    I’m referring to your comments from over a year ago that stuck with me. I was dissapointed at the time as it wasn’t the news I was hoping to hear. I bought a ’07 Jcw anyway and while I agree it’s a great car it just didn’t quite give me the same visceral thrills the R53 does. Sorry, this rap is really overdone and I shouldn’t have gone here. Apologies to all. I can’t help still be curious about the factory JCW and I’m sure it will be very fast as the stage one is very fast. A used one might find it’s way into my garage someday.

  • goat

    Just another voice, and one recently coming from an R56 with JCW suspension. In my experience, on the R56 the JCW suspension is NEEDED for any semblance of “go kart” handling. Shocking as it may be for many mini owners/prospective owners to accept, the R56 base suspension flops all over the place. Many mini drivers are perfectly happy with the base suspension, but many are also coming to the mini from driving rather average-handling automobiles and so find even the base suspension a revelation.

    But as an NB miata owner (with upgraded suspension on the miata too) coming to the mini, the base suspension is a far cry from even “adequate”. The R56 sports suspension? Much better. But truly impressive? Wasn’t to me. The JCW suspension (or its aftermarket equivalent) was a NEED, not a WANT. Others here who are handling-oriented will agree (and have done so, in posts above).

    The R53 is a different animal. Even the lowliest R53 Classic up here in Canada gives a satisfying flat feel through corners in a way the new car doesn’t. Up the level to the sports suspension and you are set… a car that turns-in sharp and tracks wonderfully. Take it up a notch further and the JCW is flat-out brilliant (again, referencing my 2006 JCW), and yes, I do find it better handling in FEEL than my R56 with JCW suspension was.

    Perhaps it is all due to the steering feel, perhaps it is the lower cg from the measurably lower ride height of the R53 (even without JCW, but particularly with the JCW). But whatever it is, there is a distinct difference that nearly any honest driver jumping from one car to the other will notice. For sports driving, twisty backroads driving, in other words, the kind of performance driving where a car like a miata pastes a grin because it just makes it SO EASY and SO SATISFYING, that is what people expect from a mini as well. But my experience through both test drives and vehicle ownership is that the R56 won’t approach that feel until you spec JCW suspension.

    Yet here the factory is going to sell their “best” mini with their “worst” suspension… the negative feedback from the performance drivers who have been the minis strongest supporters since 2002 launch is fully justified. And for those folks who own R53 factory JCW’s and so have a car with JCW suspension, JCW engine tuning, JCW brakes, aero kit, and JCW interior trim, etc. to set the car apart both dynamically and aesthetically, the R56 factory JCW falls rather short.

    But all is not lost! 🙂 I think many of us are closely watching to see what the mid-cycle refresh brings to the R56 (and to the E90)… my experience is BMW does eventually listen to its more knowledgeable, and therefore critical, enthusiasts. BMW seems to be a bit hard-of-hearing lately, mind you, but I see signs of hope in the 1 series and in what the R56 CAN be with all the right options ticked and a few styling changes! 🙂

  • the negative feedback from the performance drivers who have been the minis strongest supporters since 2002 launch is fully justified. And for those folks who own R53 factory JCW’s and so have a car with JCW suspension, JCW engine tuning, JCW brakes, aero kit, and JCW interior trim, etc. to set the car apart both dynamically and aesthetically, the R56 factory JCW falls rather short.

    Bingo. When BMW acquired the JCW name, many of us were under the impression that an “M” type Cooper was the goal. That’s why the JCW is disappointing. It’s not that its a bad car, its just that its another MINI built for the masses, where many of us were hoping for something geared more toward the enthusiast. The JCW represents a compromise–what many of us were hoping/expecting was a no holds barred, uncompromised nod toward performance. That is why this won’t be my next car, but a GP like variant of the R56 may very well be–if it’s ever produced.

  • Jon

    Just very sad that Mini choose to blow their first bite at the apple, I think it will be a very long time until Mini recovers a decent reputation among the large number of performance oriented Mini drivers for its choices. I am sure as more and more writers test the base car up against its competitors they will be reflecting back to this car for many years when looking at new JCW products wondering exactly what they are going to be testing a partially built car or a performance car.

  • Impulsive

    Alan Smithee, as stated by cct1 and Jon, there are enough reasons that they’ve lost me. And that may not matter if there are two more to replace me but that doesn’t negate the failure that is the new factory JCW car.

    I don’t want the rims they are forcing me to buy … leave the crown spokes on … why am I forced to spend more money on rims that will make no difference to me on the road.

    I want the ride height lowered … the car looks ridiculous with a wheel gap that is a joke … and if the price difference is non-existent if using the sport suspension, since it doesn’t cost BMW any more to make, then give the car sport suspension with a lowered look … another deficiency that I have to address by spending money to buy aftermarket springs when appropriate factory springs could have been engineered and built AT THE FACTORY, saving money by not having to buy two sets of springs and paying labour twice.

    I do not want the upgraded brakes … I am not tracking the car … why am I forced to pay for brakes I don’t need? Leave the ‘S’ brakes on and I can spend my money elsewhere.

    If you don’t get the fact that it’s a failure by any measure, you’re lost.

  • Alan Smithee

    “…if there are two more to replace me that doesn’t negate the failure that is the new factory JCW car.”

    Actually, if they lost you and two replace you, that is an out-of-the-park success.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m a hard core enthusiast. I hit the track every weekend I can, and have for over a decade. Been a member of PCA and BMWCCA since I was a teenager, and have owned every high-performance version of BMW’s smallest from the 2002tii to the E46 M3. They lost me with the E90/E92…too heavy and too ugly. Bought a 997 to replace the last M3, which is what I currently take to the track. So, yeah, I understand that the JCW could be more performance-oriented, and it sure would be great if it had every available performance enhancement in the Mini/JCW parts bin.

    However, I also understand the global economy, BMW executives’ incentives to beat MB and VAG in terms of profit and overall sales volume, and the success of the Mini brand thus far. The car we really want would sell to very few people, and sad as it is, BMW wants the JCW to sell to as many as possible. So the price point stays under $30k, and the car doesn’t crash over potholes. And with plenty of MCS transaction prices well over $30k over the last six years, Mini knows there will be plenty of people paying $35k for JCWs…opting for nav, sunroof, stripes, and other non-performance items. And some will line dealers’ pockets buying JCW suspensions, steering wheels, CF trim, etc.

    But the R56 is new in its life cycle. I’m sure there will be another GP-type model. It will probably start at ~$35k, and sell in very small quantities to hard-core Mini fans.

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  • JFS

    Impulsive, Well stated, I echo your post.

  • But the R56 is new in its life cycle. I’m sure there will be another GP-type model. It will probably start at ~$35k, and sell in very small quantities to hard-core Mini fans.

    You can think about it this way. To re-create the GP all you need to do is add the suspension and JCW body kit and have (in reality) a more complete car in terms of performance upgrades. Granted we all wanted this car to be special off the bat but it’s not like it can’t be a helluva a car.

    I do not want the upgraded brakes … I am not tracking the car … why am I forced to pay for brakes I don’t need? Leave the ‘S’ brakes on and I can spend my money elsewhere.

    So the fact that MINI basically didn’t talk to you about what you wanted before they created this car means you won’t be buying one? I’m sure you have a better rationale but that’s how it comes off. Honestly there was no way they were not adding larger brakes to this car. That’s how BMW works… if you add power you add brakes.

  • BSUCardinalfan

    I still say that the cost issue is moot, and more to the point, they are passing huge gains on to the dealers.

    the difference between a factory ‘standard’ suspension and a factory ‘sport’ suspension, in terms of cost at the factory, is zero. It is still four springs, four shocks/struts, and two swaybars. Even the $500 adder for the sport suspension is pure profit for MINI.

    Even putting the JCW suspension on at the factory would only be a slight increase, due to the fact that YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO PAY FOR THE STOCK PARTS. They could do this for under $1000, easily. But with this scenario, they get to sell us two suspensions, and the dealer gets to charge us several hundred dollars to install the JCW stuff, and we get to take some ornaments home for the garage.

    I’d be at least slightly happier if the JCW suspension and aero were at least factory options. I absolutely refuse to pay a dealer to take brand new parts off of my car to put other brand new ‘factory’ parts on it.

    but, overall, if this car is going to have the softest possible suspension standard, I really think the people running the JCW brand need to have their heads examined.

  • Jon E


    I agree completly. Your comments focus on the one thing that bothers me most about MINI (but not enough to keep me from buying). I took delivery of a 2008 MCS a couple of months ago. The local dealer wanted over $2400, plus realignment cost, for the purchase and installation of the JCW suspension. I purchased elsewhere and had a reputable local German automotive shop do the install. Total installed cost was $1490 plus an alignment at a local speciality shop; however I still have the complete original suspension, which is effectively brand new, that I now need to try and sell. More than likely it will continue to take up precious space in my garage for the next several years. There is the same issue with respect to the dealer installed JCW engine kit (which I may opt for or may decide to go aftermarket for my performance upgrades). If they offered these options as “factory installed” I wouldn’t be looking at the aftermarket options.

  • Jon

    It does make me wonder just how successfully the M division would be if they produced similar products holding out until the end to the series to make a true M car. The M series has proven time and time again that if you make a high performance car even with the large bump in price and a huge amount of direct competition at the price point you will sell plenty of cars.

    In a flash when I talk about a M car everybody pretty much knows I am speaking instantly about a high performance tuned Factory car. However with the JCW brand it stands for a moderate performance car that can be kitted together to make a high performance car. What I think may act as a direct example of the JCW brand is how BMW is handling the tii concept so far, optional products and maybe eventually a semi tuned car.

    The new car may not be considered a dealer kit yet Mini is handling this car exactly as a kit car. The problem with this is I when it came to a R53 or R56 dealer JCW was the JCW brand was just another kit for the car like Alta or many other tuners. With them leaving this car so short they are still competing directly against the aftermarket vendors.

  • eager2own

    Jon, you stated earlier “I am sure as more and more writers test the base car up against its competitors they will . . .” That highlights the problem with this Factory JCW: reviewers are NEVER going to test the base Factory JCW — MINI would never provide the car in that shape for review. I guarantee that every “Factory JCW” made available for testing and review has either the JCW suspension or, at least, sport and probably the body kit. Reviewers are not going to be offered a JCW car with base suspension . . . and I think that shows that MINI knows that it would be a joke to call an R56 with the base suspension a “performance package.”

    I keep checking this thread in the hope that MotoringFile finally confirms that this was all an April 1 joke.

    Jon E, the problem of trying to resell the suspension after upgrading to JCW is now worse . . . buyers now have to try selling the base (instead of the sport suspension) on the markplace — not a lot of buyers looking to upgrade to the base suspension.

  • Mowse

    True. I’ve been trying to sell mine since October. No bites.

  • Mowse

    Goat. You echo my sentiments perfectly.

  • newmarek

    A really good idea at this point would be for MINI to create a new option package just for the JCW cars. Then they could put the JCW suspension and Areo kit in it at a discount on the parts. I would be very impressed if they did that. They should also let you change the wheels and take off the spoiler (if they add it) to lower the price of the car. I like those wheels but I would rather they send my car with some winter rims and tires and let me pick out my summer shoes.

  • Eysmahn

    Okay guys, seriously, you all need to stop taking the Factory JCW as a personal insult. MINI is a business, not a charity. MINI didn’t have to build this car at all. They could have just sold a ton of JCW dealer kits that they and their dealers make more money on. Instead they added another level car to their r’epetoire. Like GM has their LS, LT, LTZ, and SS. The Cooper would be like an LS, an S would be an LT, and this new factory JCW would be the LTZ. Perhaps they will make a balls to the wall SS (another GP) but they haven’t yet. And forgive me the reference to the General, but my dad was a GM employee and I was raised on ’em (and it would be the same compared to any car company). This JCW simply put, is not a M car. A GP would be like a MINI M.

    Reading these posts it becomes abundantly clear that the MINI community cannot even agree on what they would like on this car. Some people want the JCW suspension, some don’t. Some want the JCW body kit, some don’t. Some want the wheels, some want the breaks, some want the carbon fiber, some want the steering wheel…etc. Soooo… I guess MINI was correct in going with the blank slate idea. I do agree that it would be nice if MINI made the Aero Kit and suspesion factory options, but I think it’s fair to say that they probably couldn’t feasibly do it. They already build 2 different models at the same plant, which was not intended to build 2 models or produce them in the volume they are. Bottom line the Oxford plant is already pushed to the max and they probably couldn’t afford the room to offer these as factory options. Besides like I said they are a business and they know that if somebody wants the parts badly enough they end up selling the stock ones and the upgraded ones too. And their dealers make a handsome profit installing them too, so why would they cut their own throats?

    I’m personally going to buy a Factory JCW car. I like everything that it comes with, and honestly I’d rather have the standard body kit. I know it doesn’t have the suspension, but it does have the DTC and the ELSD. Two things I did not expect this car to have, but am thrilled that it does. I like the fact that it looks like every other MINI on the road. It makes it a real sleeper car. I guess I’m not a big fan of having a car that screams to the world, more specifically the police, “I’m driving an ultra performance car! Please pay attention to any minor thing I do wrong and ticket me for it!”

    So anybody who cries themselves to sleep at night because the Factory JCW doesn’t have everything they dreamed of, don’t worry. I’m sure MINI will build another halo car, why wouldn’t they? They will likely do it towards the end of the model run just like they did with the MCS JCW GP. And if you don’t have the patience to wait for that, you can just build one right now. Just like you could have done with the first generation before the GP came out. All in all I’m glad this is not another GP. I didn’t like the color scheme of the old GP, I hated the wheels and the body kit didn’t look like it belonged on the car. If I want an ugly car that goes fast I’ll buy a VW R32 or a Civic Type R or soemthing like that.

  • Impulsive

    Truly, I don’t want to sound like an ass here but the entire situation is laughable and the fact that ANYONE is arguing with logic, my logic, is just reinforcing why this failure was allowed to happen in the first place.

    ‘JFS’, CLEARLY understands the logic, as do several others, that what I have presented cannot be argued LOGICALLY without a foundation of maximum profit as the reason for half-assing this car.

    ‘Alan Smithee’, it is “out of the park” because of the money BMW makes, not because it’s the right thing to do … the swindlers who wrote the derivatives contracts underpinned by subprime loans, sold to banks all over the world who are now writing off billions and tens of billions, may look like champions who hit homeruns by making billions in the process BUT it was the wrong thing to do regardless of the profits involved.

    Further, I want either a BASE JCW with 210hp with NO forced options OR an appropriate full-on, skirted, braked, rimmed, lowered monster … for BMW to choose for me what they want (half-ass) and force me to then add or substitute their choices is asinine.

    ‘Gabe’, go back and read agin the logic behind my post … your argument is looking like primary school grade material. This has nothing to do with BMW building and selling what I want specifically, although what I want will dictate whether I will buy or not … and this car is nowhere near what I want.

    They half-assed this car by: 1. forcing me to buy rims I don’t want which I pay for upfront and then have to pay twice by buying new rims … stupidity; 2. forcing me to buy brakes I don’t want or need and preventing me from reallocating that money elsewhere … stupidity; 3. not lowering the car to imply, or make conspicuous, the fact that it’s a performance upgraded vehicle … not to mention absolutely necessary on a car that looks jacked up ready to go off-roading … stupidity; 4. leaving out an appropriate level of suspension to correlate with a faster car with bigger brakes, but adding rims … stupidity; 5. forcing me to pay for an illuminated shift knob … are you kidding me? … stupidity; 6. making any additions dealer installed options so I can get raped even further … I guess the factory can’t cope with such trivial issues … stupidity.

    Again, either build a BASE version with an upgraded powertrain and nothing more OR build it as it should be. But seeing as how there are enough people posting here that can’t seem to grasp this rudimentary logic and are willing to spend money like they’re bank machines, why would I expect BMW to do anything different than make as much money as they can which ever way they can … fools and their money are soon parted … and I ain’t no fool. Maybe next time BMW.

  • MINIme

    Does anyone see where MINI’s acquisition of JCW was a terrible idea?

    Leave aftermarket tuning to aftermarket companies who specialize in performance! MINI is/was trying too hard to control the performance sector for their cars, or perhaps just capitalize on the JCW name, and now they have gotten it wrong (to some degree). That’s what manufacturers do.

    Manufacturers build for the masses. The problem is, you can’t usually get the type of performance that the hard-core enthusiasts seek and remain cost efficient enough to offer the finished product to the average consumer at what they perceive as a reasonable price.

    Give me a base car and let me utilize aftermarket companies and their wares and I’ll beat a factory tuned car any day! And, so will most go-fast fans. The only benefit to the MINI/JCW marriage is the manufacturers warranty. If you are going to race and thrash your car anyway, who cares? You better have deep pockets…

  • jsc

    This site is about passion. And while MINI/BMW may not be about passion, John Cooper Works was supposed to be. And this car, the first JCW Factory car, was absolutely supposed to be passion incarnate. I’m not drooling, ready to spend my kids lunch money on this thing. I’m fuming. I guess that’s a passion too. But, it is not one that is going to entice me to spend my money on MINI’s halo car. I may be wrong, but aren’t halo cars supposed to have the enthusiasts saying, “…I don’t care, I gotta have this car!!!”?

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  • greg

    “Gotta have it was uttered by many for the ’06 factory JCW. that car came as it was intended to be. Many complained about having to add the sport package but who would have ordered a JCW without those options anyway?

    Gabe, do you have any info on when the deadline for ordering the current convertible is? Gotta grab a “old school” JCW before they’re gone. Please let us know when you know.

  • Jon

    I wouldn’t advised anybody to not buy this car. I just feel that personally its a far cry from being much other than just another kit car from Mini and one that is lacking most of what I am looking for in a Mini. Of well.

    Already have started the ball rolling for another car that comes closer to the build that I am looking for.

  • Andre

    OK everyone needs to try and defend MINI’s logic as if they are stock holders in the company we are consumers and as consumers we would like the best value to satisfy what we want in a car, i personally want a car that screams ” I AM MINI JCW” not neccasarily M, or SS, a JCW which that individuality is why many of us love MINI, but instead we are getting a car that needs to be priced neer the 135i to make the JCW statement and from a pure performance stand point competes pretty closely with a 25,000 speed3 that right now is at 22with employee pricing…. All im saying is that when i get a MINI i want a car with soul that will handle like nothing else in its class, and can do it with a respectable amount of speed, and when i get an enthusuast car i expect something that embodies the enthusiast mentality, in the MINI we do need a clean slate I agree but not in the performance in a performance car, if you want to make the JCW a clean slate you ADD OPTIONS exlusive the the car you add dealer installed products

  • Andre

    ok so im typing this on my helio and ran out of charexters so i just types another 1024charecter response and then accidently pressed back AAAAHHHH!!!!!!

    so ill just say this everyone who wants to say something to MINI e-mail them and send letters (ill put the e-mail list when i get to a pc) its prob to late to handle the current car but just tell them that we dont apreciate the lack of value or their ability to adress either the base model needed for the enthusiasts or the customozations neccasary to satisfy us (would make alot more sense for my responce that was deleted)

  • Andre Salazar

    heres the link to the contact site, I gotta go to class so I didnt have time to find the direct e-mails


  • r56mini

    MINI should add the JCW suspension and Aero kit from the factory and increase the price.

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