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MF Review: Factory JCW Hatch

The factory JCW MINI is a dichotomy of character. On one hand (in stock form) it’s as comfortable over bumps and on the highway as any MINI that’s ever been produced. Yet on the other hand it’s the fastest and most raucous MINI ever. ClearlyBMW tried to create this car to be almost everything to all people. But does that make the new JCW less of a performance car?

If you only look at sheer speed, the new JCW handily takes the crown. It feels every bit as fast as the 2006 JCW GP was with an enormous amount of torque (206 ft lbs of it) available almost instantly in the rev range. Its also got the power too – 211bhp of it. While the GP may have had similar numbers, it’s the new JCW’s power delivery that really sets it apart. And weight is less of an issue as well. With the new R56 chassis weighing around 20lbs less in similar spec, the GP doesn’t quite have the same advantage it used to have.

So that sets the stage. This new factory JCW MINI is the fastest MINI ever made. But is it the best? First let’s look at what BMW did right with this car – the engine. MINI has gone to great pains to compare JCW as a brand to the famed M division under the BMW brand. But you’ll notice that never once do they talk about who actually created the JCW powerplant. However we can finally confirm (after sitting on this information for the better part of a year) that the M Division did have a hand in the development of this new JCW engine. To our knowledge this is the first time that BMW’s Motorsport division has ever had a hand on any MINI development – a big deal to us and surely a big deal to JCW owners.

The drivetrain received a handful of modifications by BMW (not all by the M division mind you). For starters the intake valves and valve seat rings were upgraded with more durable materials to withstand the increased temperature caused by the free-revving engine. The pistons (and this is where M came into the equation) have had their sidewalls reinforced and subsequently the compression ratio has been reduced to 10.0:1. The cylinder head wall thickness has increased to reduce potential stress during peak output.

The engine breathes better due to the fitment of a larger air mass sensor among other additions meaning greater throughput of cold air and a reduction in the loss of throttle power. Induction is also quickened through a larger air intake. Finally a strengthened and larger twin-scroll turbocharger and exhaust manifold are fitted resulting in a pressure increase from 0.9 to 1.3 bar.

The exhaust and catalytic converter was reworked and enlarged to aid the unrestricted flow and reduction in back pressure. All this means a couple of things. Turbo lag is reduced further (already pretty non-existent) and power and torque are increased to 211 bhp and 206 ft lbs respectively. Yet the Works car is rated at the same MPG as the stock MCS while getting 132hp per litre. It’s so impressive that BMW has already announced that this engine will be showing up in the next generation 1 Series due out in 2012.

But how does all this translate onto the road? It’s fast. I mean to say its got power everywhere and seemingly anytime you want it. With the sport button enabled the exhaust pops and snarls on lift-off in ways that would make a stock R53 (’05 and ’06 had similar popping from the exhaust) tuck its tail between its legs. This car’s aural pleasure is rivaled by the GP when you’re talking about factory MINIs. At one point I was behind the JCW (at full throttle) in my own car and literally had the hair on the back of my neck stand-up from the exhaust note. It’s simply unlike anything I’ve ever heard from a MINI. The only downside is that you only really get the full brunt of this from the outside.

Stopping all of this are four-pot Brembo brakes on the factory JCW. They live up to the hype in that they are better than the single-pot set-up on the stock MCS or the previous JCW GP MCS. However more than one of us who drove the JCW and an R56 MCS back to back felt that the stock braking set-up actually had more feel than the Brembos on the factory JCW. It could have been the extra 7,000 miles on them but they seems slightly easier to modulate. That said, if we had to choose one it would be the four-pot Brembos.

With DSC fully deactivated and the car’s Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) engaged, it also has an impressive poise in putting this power down to the pavement. While a mechanical limited slip may have more feel, EDLC proved to be incredibly capable in very aggressive driving (unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to test our press car on the track) and its ability to do its job almost transparently was impressive.

EDLC works when the car is accelerating hard out of corners or tight bends. It electronically slows the spinning inside wheel to enhance grip and ensure that all available power is transferred to the road through the wheel with greatest traction. In contrast to the way DSC and DTC manage power delivery to the wheels, EDLC does not intervene with the loss of engine power, meaning the driver has more control.

However the EDLC is different enough from the feel of a traditional LSD that some might miss the mechanical quality of the latter. Limited Slip always had a feel of pulling and shooting you out of corners in a satisfying way. Think of EDLC as an F1 style traction control (before it was banned) in the way it manages power back and forth between the front wheels with such speed and intelligence that its almost mind boggling. Combined with the new DTC (an exclusive Dynamic Traction Control system) the JCW manages its power as effectively as possible considering its stock suspension set-up (more on that in a sec).

Yet there are several ways that the US-spec JCW disappoints. Obviously there’s the torque-steer issue that even stock R56 MCS drivers are aware of. Personally I don’t find it a huge downside to the experience. The car has lots of torque and as expected one of the usual side-effects of that is torque steer. I’d personally rather have the power and subsequently the responsibility to self-modulate and control the car myself.

Then there’s the look of the car. Unlike other markets, the US spec JCW doesn’t come standard with the JCW aero-kit. We’ve heard several reasons for this and surprisingly price isn’t the only one. However it’s hard to believe that this entirely different model (that commands a $6k premium) doesn’t look distinctly different from a $21K MCS.

However to us the most glaring issue I found with the car was the suspension choice. As MF readers probably all know, MINI has decided to equip the factory JCW MINI with the stock MINI suspension. While it feels like it may be a little more aggressive than the stock suspension on the standard MCS, it still feels inadequate for what should be a truly special car. To put it plainly, if MINI expects JCW to mirror the M Division with an enthusiast-like philosophy they needed to make the JCW suspension (currently only a dealer installed accessory) standard on this car. Sure it’s a little more harsh than the stock or even sport suspension but it’s one of those lines in the sand that JCW should have drawn. Driving this JCW and a MCS with the JCW suspension back to back really highlighted this difference. Frankly it left me wanting more out of this factory car. Sure there is a playful nature to the stock suspension with its lift-off oversteer. But there is simply too much lost motion and ultimately lost performance as compared to a more aggressive set-up like the JCW suspension.

Price is also not a strong point of this car. While there is some argument to be made that the total package (including the brakes) makes it an honest value, it’s alarming how quickly the MSRP can rise when just a few options are added. Our press car was very lightly equipped with just cruise, color line, stripes, sunroof, auto climate control, bluetooth/iPod adapter) and still came in at $31,800. Yes that’s $100 more than a stock 2006 JCW GP without the aero-kit, JCW suspension and added cosmetic bits that made that car so special.

Make no mistake, the new factory JCW MINI goes and stops better than any factory MINI yet. It sounds better and has more technical wizardry as well. Yet I can’t help but feel that MINI missed the mark a little with this car in its stock form. The interior and exterior styling (on the US Spec at least) doesn’t offer any of the distinction that an M Car would much less what the GP had. But worse in the eyes of the enthusiast, the factory JCW isn’t created with an eye towards the total package because of the lack of a more aggressive suspension.

So is the new JCW worth the price of admission? Our press car came lightly equipped at $31,800 – again $100 more than a GP. But is this car equivilent to a GP? In some ways yes. It’s easily as fast, sounds arguably as good and stops better. It also has less drawbacks with four seats and a real stereo. In the end it’s all down to personal preference. If you want the fastest MINI and don’t mind dropping $6,000 plus to get it, the new JCW is your car. However for me I wanted to love this car not only for the way it made every drive feel special but also for the sacrifices it demands from the driver – a la a true BMW M car. While it does have many of the attributes you’d hope for, it just never really moved me like the GP or even my previous JCW accessory equipped MINI.

In considering the JCW, you have to ask yourself what you see as important in a MINI. On one hand you have slightly used GPs floating around. On the other hand you have the stock MCS. Then you have the MCS with the JCW engine and suspension kits. It’s truly a tough decision and I’m not sure that the factory JCW is truly the car many of us were waiting for. While there’s little question that the new JCW will be the most sccessful JCW car yet, it just isn’t quite the full package it could have been in stock form.

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Written By: Gabe

  • eager2own

    As expected, an outstanding and-I think-well balanced review.

  • Mark

    Nice review. I have to disagree with you in terms of the suspension and other available ad-ons. While this car is somewhat “M” related, it’s nice that it’s not “M” priced. $32000 is a hefty price to pay (and I’m sure many readers have played online and built a $45000 car) it’s not the $75,000 of the M3. It gets great gas mileage, and it’s much more of a viable daily driver. If you want a suspension upgrade, there is certainly one available. Some people aren’t crazy about all the enhancements that MINI has available, so I think being able to get the ones you really want (via dealer install) is a cool way to go about it. I’d love to park one of these in my driveway, even stock!

  • http://blog.kurtcollins.com Krut

    One glaring omission is the acknowledgement of the 4 piston Brembo brakes.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Nice review. I have to disagree with you in terms of the suspension and other available ad-ons. While this car is somewhat “M” related, it’s nice that it’s not “M” priced. $32000 is a hefty price to pay (and I’m sure many readers have played online and built a $45000 car) it’s not the $75,000 of the M3. It gets great gas mileage, and it’s much more of a viable daily driver. If you want a suspension upgrade, there is certainly one available. Some people aren’t crazy about all the enhancements that MINI has available, so I think being able to get the ones you really want (via dealer install) is a cool way to go about it.

    An M3 starts at just over $50k. A 335i starts at just over $40k. In those terms I would say that expectations of this JCW should be of an M type of package.

    One glaring omission is the acknowledgement of the 4 piston Brembo brakes.

    There’s more info in there now. I had written it for our JCW vs MCS JCW review that will be on the site soon but decided to throw it into this one as well.

  • David

    I’m on the fence about this factory JCW car. I expect to be placing an order at the end of January ’09 for an MCS. On the one hand, it’s difficult to justify the extra $6,800.00 CDN the JCW car commands over a similarly equipped MCS. (although that difference is not apples to apples, what with the better brakes and more powerful engine, DTC/ELDC, etc.) It seems to me that a lot of fun can be had with a standard MCS (this coming from an R50 Owner) and, that if one wishes, the stage 1 JCW kit can be added down the road at substantially less cost. The fact the suspension of the factory JCW is not much (if any) different from any other MCS does not play in to my particular decision, but I do agree the factory car should make a statement in this area, like it does in most of the key dynamics areas. Should the factory car look much different? Not necessarily, there is something to be said for a subtle “sleeper” look. The JCW cross spoke wheels look great, and of course, provide clearance for the large front brakes. But, at 23 lbs. each, the term “light-alloy” wheel is a bit of a misnomer, and I fear that (great looks aside) I would be tempted to change these out for a true lightweight wheel. But then, there’s the other hand… the hand(s) that grip the steering wheel of the top performing MINI available, with an engine that sounds great and makes serious power, with brakes that may save your life, and with a price tag that, while high, is much less than any M car, barring a used E46. The debate rages on…

  • cct1

    Mark, I’d respectfully disagree. I think this car is a near miss, and I’ll bet they’ll get it better on the next generation. That’s not to suggest that a substantial number of people won’t buy it and love it, but it’s still not quite what many of us were hoping for.

    Throwing more horsepower and torque in a car is all well and good, but the MINI has always been about handling more than power–and this is where BMW missed the mark. Many of us were salivating over the JCW, figuring if BMW was truly going for an ‘M’ version of the MINI, the handling would reflect that. It doesn’t. They did improve the brakes, but you’re not getting the full benefit of even that improvement without upgrading the suspension and the tires. And I’d love to see what the ediff does to the rear brake pads on the track, but I doubt we’ll ever see a mechanical LSD on a MINI again.

    As for adding on, you could do a stage I, JCW suspension, and brakes and overall have a better balanced car for the track than the currently configured stage II JCW. I’d rather have a car ready to go WITHOUT having to do much, if any, improvements (And the M3 is a car that is ready for the track out of the box–yes, it can be improved further, but the gains are those of diminishing returns rather than huge improvements), and the JCW isn’t there in its stock form.

    The GP is still king (wish I would have bought one), but I’d wager the next generation will take this things into consideration.

  • Bob H.

    Thanks for an objective and well balanced review. IMHO, the JCW works car is an enthusiasts car, not nessesarily one which appeals to the the average person who considers buying a MINI. Additional performance always equals more $$$$’s. More power is great; but better suspension is well,…way way better. Having had an ’03 S (with sport suspension) and at present owning a ’07 S with JCW engine upgrade, I can appreciate the better overall ride quality of the ’07 with stock suspension. Having said that, the JCW suspension is next on the radar screen for me…

  • TC

    I can understand wanting to draw the mass appeal with the stock MCS suspension, but make the sport or JCW suspension a factory option. It is a waste of money and resources to have the dealerships do it and stick the “beloved” consumer with one useless suspension setup to deal with. Same goes with the aero kit.

  • http://www.dickdavid.com dickdavid

    Great review.

  • JonPD

    Gabe as normal an excellent review, several of your reviews are some of the best that I’ve read about Mini’s over the years. Could just be me but reading your prior review of the dealer R56 JCW and this one I got the feeling of a little more passion with the dealer kit. Think this is likely because it was your personal car you were reviewing at the time.

    I completely agree with cct1’s comment about this car being a near miss. I have had the pleasure of tracking both my GP and the new JCW Mini. Without a doubt the JCW Mini feels every bit as fast as the GP, if not faster. The four pot brakes are very nice and more sure footed on the track. Having said that the GP is so much better through the corners, the base R56 suspension is better than the base R53 but really not suitable for the potential performance of the JCW Mini. The exhaust note of the JCW is very nice, although while driving the car its somewhat muted, however the engine sounds are pretty much boring. Every time I get in the GP and stock R53 I feel that I am wedged between the sounds of the supercharger and the exhaust, pound for pound its still one of my favorite soundtracks.

    My biggest problem still with the JCW Mini is that if you park one in a cluster of R56’s 99% of most people will see just another Mini. I can bury the GP in a fleet of Minis and it still stands out, I really think they should have built on the strengths of the GP with this car. This boils down to making the current JCW Mini something I would not bring home, if they spent the money building a true performance Mini I would purchase it without hesitation. I don’t see this car even as a performance car as its hit on only two of the three things that make a performance car starting,turning,stopping.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Gabe as normal an excellent review, several of your reviews are some of the best that I’ve read about Mini’s over the years. Could just be me but reading your prior review of the dealer R56 JCW and this one I got the feeling of a little more passion with the dealer kit. Think this is likely because it was your personal car you were reviewing at the time.

    As much as you try to remove any bias from reviews, it can be hard to take away simple life experiences you’ve had. In fact I think that personal preferences are some of the best things that drive sites like MF. Without it we’d have Consumer Reports.

    That said I tried to look at this objectively through the eyes of someone looking to buy one. On one hand you have slightly used GPs floating around. On the other hand you have the stock MCS. Then you have the MCS with the JCW engine and suspension kits. It’s truly a tough decision and I’m not sure that the factory JCW is truly the car many of us were waiting for.

    Now that said it’s incredible and in my mind only really missing two things: JCW suspension and the JCW aero-kit. With those included this car becomes what most of us would have hoped for.

    BTW I add a bit more on the aerokit and the objectivity. Some of this I had already written for the other piece on the JCW vs the MCS JCW (coming soon).

  • JonPD

    I agree Gabe that if they would have put the aero and suspension on this car I would have taken first delivery at my dealership for sure. I still say though that I try to imagine the M division making a car that blends into the others made by BMW their buyers would object. I think a majority of people that open their pocket books deeper for special cars more or less demand this. The example case of this is the GP which even while blocks away stands out and screams “hey there is something different here”.

    I was at a point of buying either a dealer JCW, JCW Mini, or a very low mileage GP. I was pretty much amazed at the price point of the dealer kit and very tempted by it, however the moment I laid hands on the GP there was no doubt that this was the car for me. If I were looking at buying a new car today I would go instantly for the dealer fitted kit. I can’t help to feel somewhat let down by knowing I am buying the ultimate version of the car only to have to spec it to make it what it should be.

  • CiaoBoy

    I agree that it is a glaring omission to not put the JCW suspension on the car. I equate that to an M3 with the 414hp V8, but with the base suspension of a 328i or 335i. That’s just not right. We would feel the same way if the M3 came with the stock 335i brakes, and likewise, if the JCW came with stock MCS brakes.

    Buyers who want to upgrade to the JCW suspension will now have to pay for the labor to swap out the old suspension and they will have the leftover suspension parts as well.

    At least it’s better in the sense that Mini allows the car to come with the base suspension and did not force the sports suspension on its buyers. On the R53 JCW, buyers had to pay a bit extra for the sports suspension package, even if they were planning to swap out the original suspension and upgrade to the JCW suspension. Just a costlier initial investment for something that is going to be removed from the car anyway.

    By the way, “it’s” = “it is”. The possessive form should be “its”, without the contraction.

  • capital

    FWIW the optional JCW suspension (I’ve only ever driven the R53 version) is firmer than that of the e46 M3. I would put it on in a heartbeat though, and I wish my M3 was that firm and controlled..!

    On the other hand, I can understand why it’s not standard. The front scrapes all the time and it very tiring on bad roads.

    The stock JCW should have been delivered with something at least as firm as an M car though for sure..

  • Craig

    I can’t wait until the JCW R57 is available. That exhaust, on a convertible with the top down, will be like gearhead crack. I wish there were more tunnels in my area. ;)

  • http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/2008seleeng1f.jsp?year=2009&make=MINI&model=John%20Cooper%20Works%20Convertible Adam

    Just saw that the EPA has published fuel economy results for the ’09 JCW convertible. (See the link on my name.) Same numbers as the Coupe and Clubman.

  • greg

    What’s with all the gramatical correcting of everyone lately? Is this the Mensa site or a car blog. Lighten up dorks!

    My 2 cents on the Factory JCW. I drove three of them all stock suspension. Embarrassing to think anyone would buy this car with stock suspension. It’s pathetic and dangerous with the power.

    On my (now long gone) satage one JCW I dropped the 2k for the JCW suspension and still have the stock suspension sitting in my garage(for sale cheeep). It should be a factory option vs a gouge to the buyer having to pay dealer labor. Same goes for the aero kit.

    I love the wheels and with the brakes and internal component doodad upgrades (first gen didn’t do that) this isn’t a bad value. Although I came away a tad underwhelmed after my test drives. The smoothness of the R56 power took away the “sportyness” that the R53 had IMO.

    I didn’t feel it was really faster than stage one (Mini claims 0-60 in 6.5 for both models which is double BS) or dramatically faster than the stock MCS. But again, I feel the “smoothness” factor robs the R56 of the road feel/sensation so it’s difficult to tell without a stopwatch. It seems butt dyno resistant.

    Guess I’ll keep my ’08 JCW cabrio until the third gen factory JCW. Maybe not as fast(on paper) as the current JCW but still more fun to drive. Hope they get it right next time.

    Now bring on more reviews of the mazzola powered Mini!

  • greg

    Oh, forgot to mention that not ingraving the tail pipes is WEAK!!!!!!!

  • MikeJCW

    Excellent review! The only real issue I have with the new car is the lack of JCW susp option for the Clubman. My JCW Clubman is due next month and I opted for the base susp after driving base and sport, couldn’t tell much difference. The ride and handling is fine, except for too much body roll. I’m thinking of doing Eibach springs, which will reduce the wheel gap too.

    Gabe, any idea from your sources if the JCW susp will ultimately be available for the Clubman or no (I would guess they won’t put R&D $$ into such a low-volume product)???

  • robble

    hmm…

    Stock Suspension – Free – ok Sports Suspension – $500 – good JCW Suspension – ~$2000+ installed – better Cross Coilovers – ~$2400 installed – best

    How much do you want to spend for suspension?

    I’d rather get a (free) stock suspension and put coilovers on it.

    Spending 32k+ on a race machine? What’s another $2.4k for an awesome suspension?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    FWIW the optional JCW suspension (I’ve only ever driven the R53 version) is firmer than that of the e46 M3. I would put it on in a heartbeat though, and I wish my M3 was that firm and controlled..! On the other hand, I can understand why it’s not standard. The front scrapes all the time and it very tiring on bad roads.

    Based on my time owning an R56 with the JCW suspension I’d say it’s generally about as livable as the optional sport suspension. In some ways I actually enjoyed it more around town.

    Gabe, any idea from your sources if the JCW susp will ultimately be available for the Clubman or no (I would guess they won’t put R&D $$ into such a low-volume product)???

    Heard nothing.

  • Revhed

    With regard to the torque steer issue, it’s one of the biggest dissapointments about my MCS. There are plenty of hot hatches with more torque and less ‘steer’ than the MINI, I wonder why they couldn’t get it right…

    A good write-up though, especially the additional technical details.

  • bobby_vinton

    So why would the inside rear wheel spin in a corner? Methinks ye copied-and-pasted some BMW RWD boilerpate on the E-Diff. MINIs spin their front wheels, from my experience.

    Fully agree with your suspension comments. I drove a JCW Clubman and was more than underwhelmed with the wallow. I would extend the criticism to the steering as well. Even in “Sport” mode it is vague and numb, and felt like a significantly slower ratio than the R53. Talked to a guy at the track recently who swithched from an R53 to R56 JCW. While he liked the new car, he was disappointed in the latest JCW suspension and is planning to upgrade. The R53 JCW suspension was far more hardcore, in his opinion.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    So why would the inside rear wheel spin in a corner? Methinks ye copied-and-pasted some BMW RWD boilerpate on the E-Diff. MINIs spin their front wheels, from my experience.

    I thought so too but that was verified by someone at MINI. I’m still wondering they are wrong.

    Talked to a guy at the track recently who swithched from an R53 to R56 JCW. While he liked the new car, he was disappointed in the latest JCW suspension and is planning to upgrade. The R53 JCW suspension was far more hardcore, in his opinion.

    The rates are all the same – they are the same suspension for all intents and purposes. I’ve driven and track both as well and can attest to this.

  • Rocketmini

    Great Review! My only wish is I had enough money to buy one!

  • Charlie

    Mike JCW, Six months ago MINI had no plans to develop a JCW suspension kit for the Clubman; and I don’t believe their plans have changed of late.

    They made their decision on the sales volume (or actually the lack thereof) of the JCW suspension kit offered for the R-56 Coupe. MINI decided that the volume was so low, it didn’t merit the cost to develop a similar suspension for the for the Clubman. Likely the JCW shocks for the R-56 JCW coupe would work; but the springs would be way too “light” for the rear. Given the small number of JCW Clubmans coming to the USA each year, I don’t think MINI will change their mind about offering a JCW Kit for the Clubman. Too bad

  • bobby_vinton
    The rates are all the same – they are the same suspension for all intents and purposes. I’ve driven and track both as well and can attest to this.

    Huh. Same spring rates and dampening? Again, this was just one man’s opinion, but he logged a lot of track time in both cars.

  • Braden

    Myself and most people on here agree that the car should come with JCW suspension and aero kit from the factory or at least a factory install option. I really think they should have made it look a little different too, an exclusive color would have been a nice option. :( I have an 07 MCS with the JCW dealer kit and have been craving more performance, I thought the factory car was my answer, but I can now see that it’s not. Mini has missed the mark with this car, I hope that they can solve the torque steer and offer a unique and complete package on the next generation JCW. I hope they do this soon before I trade mine in for a 135i.:-(

  • Dylan

    JCW + Areo kit (if you live in the US) + JCW suspension seems like a great car to me. Perhaps us enthusiasts should just be thinking of the car in those terms and then the negatives become a complete non-issue?

  • rs

    I fail to understand some of the reasoning here. Everyone is complaining about how the suspension should have been upgraded, in spite of the motor upgrade (that’s what it read like to me)? If you did that, what would you have? A CooperS. You can’t have everything and keep it “reasonably” priced. They had to start cutting costs somewhere.

    I would rather pay for a suspension upgrade then an engine upgrade any day of the week. While I wish it did come with an upgraded suspension, I’m quite happy with the car as is. Maybe after I understand the car a little bit better at the track, I’ll know what suspension mods to throw at it. But for now, It’s an amazing little car.

  • Ian F

    While I can understand wanting for a better suspension, if there’s a part of the car that is the easiest to upgrade, it’s the suspension. In some ways, this is MINI throwing a bone to the aftermarket and giving owners the maximum number of choices.

    The suspension on a MINI is so easy to swap out it’s not even funny.

  • JonPD

    Agreed Ian, still have to say though that having to do a suspension upgrade on a new car just rather irks me. I would still have to say I would rather spend 35k+ for a car that I don’t have to rip into on the first day I own it to make it capable.

    Never get me wrong though , I still think they got a lot right on the car for sure.

  • Franz

    Gabe,

    How did the JCW R56 compare to the JCW Clubman now that you had a longer exposure?

  • MikeJCW

    Franz, good question!

    Yes, GABE, could you give a quick opinion on how the JCW Clubman performed versus your JCW Hardtop press car?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    How did the JCW R56 compare to the JCW Clubman now that you had a longer exposure?

    I’ll be writing something later but the quick answer is what you would expect. The Coupe is quicker to turn in, quicker to go and quicker to stop – just like the difference between a MCS Coupe and Clubman.

  • greg

    Funny Braden that you mentioned the BMW 135. One with the sport package is $36k. Many would find this a better value than the JCW. Dependends what you like. 135 pros-it’s much faster. Period. Cons-mediore handling, boring looking inside and out. But I’m sure most people see it as a far greater value.

  • greg

    Whoops. I said “funny” because I finally drove one yesterday.

  • Mark

    “What’s with all the gramatical correcting of everyone lately? Is this the Mensa site or a car blog. Lighten up dorks!” -CLASSIC!

  • dave

    nice review. i’ve driven the jcw clubman and boy was it a blast, even so when compared to my jcw r53. however, the two things that really stood out to me the most were how amazing the brakes were and the exhaust sound, which is best described as wicked

    BUT, while i was a dog all over the old jcw cars, the new ones don’t really get me terribly excited mostly for a very very stupid reason: pedigree. when the original jcw tuning kits came out, i absolutely loved and badly wanted them. they were expensive, but the performance was reasonable and it’s developed and made by the original john cooper garage. that really upped the desirability factor, especially since i’m really into the classic coopers. the new one is developed by bmw. period. has nothing to do w/ the old shop and people. somehow, it’s just not as desirable. for my money nowadays, i’d plunk down for a regular mcs w/ mechanical lsd

  • http://www.mensa.org Mensa President
    What’s with all the gramatical correcting of everyone lately? Is this the Mensa site or a car blog. Lighten up dorks!

    I resemble that remark. Oh, and grammatical has two Ms.

  • Ken Lucas

    Gabe: You confirmed that BMW’s M division was responsible for the JCW engine. Is Mike Cooper involved in any design or development aspects with BMW these days? I haven’t seen or heard about Mike Cooper for sometime now.

  • bobby_vinton
    …they were expensive, but the performance was reasonable and it’s developed and made by the original john cooper garage. that really upped the desirability factor, especially since i’m really into the classic coopers. the new one is developed by bmw. period. has nothing to do w/ the old shop and people. somehow, it’s just not as desirable. for my money…

    +1

  • SFRedMCc

    I really do like the red and black color combination. I may even paint my roof black sometime in the future when I’m ready for a change.

  • theMan

    After owning the car for 3 months I have no regrets from paying the premium, even without the aero package and an M quality suspension :). The power is incredible and the suspension is really not that bad. I have tracked the car and I had no problem getting it to go where I wanted it to go. I can only imagine how this car will handle when I drop in a coilover suspension. And honestly I don’t mind not standing out, looking pretty isn’t going to cut seconds. Though I am going to add an R-Type sticker which should shave about 3 or 4 seconds, and will definitely up the fear factor. Also, If it was truly an M car I would be getting 21 mpg rather than 35. Stop complaining and drive, no car will ever be perfect, but this one comes pretty darn close, of course that is only my humble opinion. Let me know how my grammar and spelling is…….or is it are ;)

  • Mike

    Gabe,

    Excellent review. I bought my 09 JCW (black with silver hood stripes) complete with the JCW aero kit, driving lights and the sport suspension. So, it looks really good – but it was spendy. I agree that they ALL should come with the JCW aero kit as standard. I understand the comments about car needing the JCW suspension to optimise handling performance, but I also realize that for people that use the car as a daily commuter (like me) the ride quality is also important. I didn’t want to take a risk that it was going to be TOO hard or TOO low. I might make upgrades at some point but for my taste I think the compromises are just about right with the sport suspension. I still touch the front spoiler an awful lot. It has the exhaust sound, the quick steering, the minimal body roll. A great drive. The MINI is a FWD car with a short wheelbase, and it has certain limitations due to it’s design configuration. If you are not running the JCW at racing speeds on a track those “imperfections” (Porsche 911 owners will certainly agree)become “qualities” that give the car a unique character. The JCW makes me smile every day.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Totally agree Mike. At the very least the Sport Suspension should have been standard on this car. BTW your set-up sounds great!

  • JonPD

    Mike I think your comment was the best so far in the comments here, though I still believe that the car should have come with the Aero and suspension as default additions. I still personally tend to believe that the car should have come with the JCW suspension, but your comment shows that Mini surely knows their perspective owner base better than I do :).

  • greg

    M Prez… you and your pals should sell your Minis and get mensastral cycles.

    I’d venture to say most peoples spelling errors are due to the fact that they bust out a quick post while in the middle of work or drinking.

    I only have so much time to concentrate as I am busy here as fry manager. I actually am a good speller. I do have a ninth grade education you know.

  • MarkD

    I am happy with the balance of my R56 Cooper S with JCW Suspension and Tuning Kit. I agree with the Review completely. The JCW Suspensions ride quality is so close to stock, which is what I had before, it is not even worth considering as a drawback. The JCW Suspesion lowers the car a little and gives the car a more aggressive look than a stock R56. That is what an M suspension does. The M cars always look clean but only slightly lower than their non M counterpart. What a shame they missed the mark with this one glaring omission. I would not trade my JCW Cooper S for a Factory JCW unless it had the Suspension.

  • JonPD

    Can also say that my GP doesn’t look like its in store for a new stablemate anytime soon. Since Mini doesn’t really seem to want to product a really stout performance car likely will hold out for the Mini D and will keep any eye open on the i-development. Still think the new car is 85% spot on seems like they left it in a place that is not clear exactly what they were shooting for. To each their own however.


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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MotoringFile Reviews

Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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