With the new MINI Cooper S and Cooper now introduced to the public on both sides of the Atlantic, imaginations of MINI enthusiasts seem to be focused on the next big thing, the 2008 John Cooper Works. As we’ve reported over the last year, expect this new factory only version of the JCW MCS is to be a very different beast than the one it replaces. Gone is the ability to have your local dealer put one together for you after the fact. And gone is the subtle look and nature of the modifications. Instead we’ll have a JCW MCS that is more BMW M3 and less “guy in a garage” in it’s execution.

And it all starts with the exterior. Expect a body kit similar to the JCW aero kit in design but more aggressive in overall look. And much like the BMW M3 vs the 3 Series, we hear the JCW MCS will come from the factory specific set of wheels to further differentiate it from the standard Cooper S. Finally, don’t be surprised to see the JCW a touch lower than the MCS due to the possibly inclusion of the JCW suspension as standard.

You can expect performance to take a step up in 2008 as well over the previous car. We’ve been told to expect something a bit more raw and a little closer to the character found on the JCW GP. In fact it’s been BMW’s aim from the start to go above and beyond the 210bhp of the current JCW and reach something closer to 215 – 220bhp.

But plans and execution are two different things. Word is that the folks in Munich have been struggling to get the power and reliability out of the new 1.6L Turbo. With the old iron block supercharged Tritec mill, a simple reduction pulley, higher performance supercharger and inter-cooler made it relatively easy to turn up the wick and get 40-45 more bhp. However with the ultra high-tech Turbo engine in the R56 already well optimized for performance, the answer isn’t as easy. Because of this, MINI may be going old-school. Reportedly one solution currently on the table is to bore the 1.6L out to a 1.8L and increase power the old-fashion way – with a larger engine. Keep in mind though, nothing has been finalized yet so consider this simply one potential option at this point. (This last rumor has now been proven incorrect.)

One side effect of all this however, is the very serious threat of eventual JCW production delays. Details are very sketchy at this point, but if things progress as slowly as they have been over the last few months, 2008 JCW production could very well slip from fall of 2007 to Spring of 2008.

Naturally we’ll have more on the 2008 JCW in the weeks and months ahead.