Earlier this [month](http://www.motoringfile.com/2015/04/16/2015-mini-john-cooper-works-first-drive-live-on-periscope/), we had a chance to take the F56 John Cooper Works for a quick spin. Unfortunately, test-driving such a car in Boston traffic at 5pm is not the best setup to get a good feel of the most powerful MINI in the current lineup. However, friend of MotoringFile and GP2 owner, John, took the new John Cooper Works for an extended test-drive. Here are his impressions.
Power delivery was impressive. Throttle response was instantaneous. This car has plenty of power and big torque. Shifts from the sport/auto transmission were equally quick. While in sport mode the JCW would downshift aggressively while braking. It was quite entertaining. Exhaust note was sporty. The “Active Sound” electronically enhanced exhaust note was noticeably deeper and louder on the JCW, to the point where you were aware of it being artificial.
The large 4 piston Brembo brakes were impressive. Marginally better than the R56 JCW brakes, if not quite up to the level of the GP2. Good feel overall, with decent feedback.
The F56 has BMW-like ride and carved-from-granite solid feel. The additional power and braking capability were somewhat let down by the 17″ all-season tires on the demo car, along with excessive ride height. I lost grip more than once during “spirited” driving in the twisties. Buyers may want to consider 18″ wheels and summer performance tires to better match the rest of the JCW performance package. I would definitely consider lowering the car, possibly with coil over suspension, and upgrade the rear sway bar for better balance.
The F56 JCW shares most of the same fundamental features inside/out with the Cooper and Cooper S models. This demo was Thunder Grey with Chili Red roof. A very sharp color combination, though I may be biased. The JCW-specific cloth seats were comfortable. JCW rear wing looks good. Wheel arch flares are molded into the arches, not the tack-on versions found on the GP2.
Overall, this is a car worthy of the JCW badge. I know people have a range of subjective opinions on the looks of the new car, I won’t go into that. As a driver’s car, with a few small tweaks this will be a fun car for anyone to own.