Part 3: One Month Review
With a month behind the wheel of my 2007 MCS and the JCW Suspension, I wanted to go beyond initial impressions or track day feedback and touch on day to day livability. One of my early criticisms with the kit was the surprisingly harsh ride – even worse than what I remembered on the R53 kit. In fact it was the ride and cost that lowered the overall score of the first review to a 3.5 out of 5. Perhaps somewhat telling, the track review (which took comfort out of the equation) garnered a 4.5 out of 5.
However since that time,my experience with the car and specifically the suspension has made me rethink the that initial 3.5. For starters, a few days after the review I realized that my dealer had mistakenly set the tire pressures at 40 psi. This was hugely detrimental when it came to the ride of the car and the unsettled feeling over broken pavement. Lowering that figure to something more reasonable (36 psi in this case) immediately made the suspension much more livable day to day with no performance downsides. Even better, the car felt controlled and in command over the same broken pavement that was previously so unsettling.
In addition to dialing down the tire pressures to normal numbers, the suspension also settled in after the normal break-in period. This has given the car more ability to soak up road irregularities all while delivering an aggressive feel. In total, these changes have made the car much more livable day to day while losing none of the performance.
One thing to watch out for with the suspension kit is ride height. While 1 cm doesn’t sound like much of a drop, it’s enough make the car bottom out on a daily basis. This is specifically the case with those who have the JCW Aero-kit. While the kit lowers the ground clearance on both the front and side of the car, it’s the front air-deflectors that take the majority of the impacts. In fact I’ve taken enough of them that my driver-side deflector finally gave up somewhere on Sheridan Rd. just north of Chicago last week. Luckily replacements are all of $9.
Of course the downside of the kit continues to be the dealer installed cost of the kit. This is especially true considering what aftermarket set-ups you can get for the money. JCW suspension kit parts and install costs can range anywhere from under $2000 to well over $2500. However with suspension, you tend to get what you pay for. With the JCW kit, MINI has developed a suspension that is as usable on the road as it is on the track. The kit gives improved control, easier modulation at the limit, sharper turn-in, and less body roll. All while remaining tolerable on less than perfect roads.
Is it worth it? For me the answer is a resounding yes. As much as I love the JCW engine kit also on the car, it’s the JCW suspension kit that gets me up early for morning runs. It may be costly, but no other system is so tailored to your specific MINI and in turn so well-rounded.
MF Long Term Rating: 4.0 out of 5
[ MF Review: JCW Suspension (part 1) ] MotoringFile
[ MF Review: JCW Suspension At the Track (part 2) ] MotoringFile
The JCW Sport Suspension kit is available from the following MotoringFile sponsors:
For some context, here’s a peak at how the entire MF Rating system plays out:
5 – Perfect and a must have.
4 – Excellent with little downside.
3 – A Solid buy with some trade-offs.
2 – Okay, but there’s room for improvement.
1 – Why am I reviewing this?