As with any high-performance MINI, the initial release of information on the new John Cooper Works car has been met with plenty of mixed opinion within the MINI community. While MINI has gotten quite a few things right with this new car (the engine modifications, the brakes and the wheels are hard to argue with), there remains some notable and consistent complaints from quite a few MINI owners. The most prominent seems to center around not making two JCW accessories standard on the car: the JCW suspension and the JCW aero-kit. The thinking is this; why create a totally separate model if you’re not going to make it look really different? And secondly why create a thoroughly reworked car with an upgraded engine and braking system without touching the suspension?

It’s a valid argument and one that makes sense when you look BMW’s M division and its products. But the argument MINI seems to be making is that the JCW MINI is still a MINI and in turn a blank canvas for owners to express themselves. That means owners can choose their own suspension and choose whether or not they want to lose some subtle with the JCW aero-kit.

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.

Furthermore, the new JCW kit needs a suspension equal to it’s new found power. The UK press release on the new MINI JCW does mention a specially tuned “Sport Suspension” standard on the car. However there’s no word on if this is just some lip-service to either the standard suspension or the optional sport suspension that have been available on the R56 since launch. Even if it’s the latter, I still believe it’s a mistake to not offer the JCW suspension as standard on this car. Yes the JCW suspension isn’t as easy to live with as the stock set-up. But a car like the JCW MINI needs to demand a certain level of commitment and in turn respect from potential owners.

Undoubtedly both of these additions would add some cost to the car. And that’s really the rub here. At over 28k, the JCW MINI is already pricey. But if you add $2k for the options mentioned, you’re talking about a MINI that starts at $30k. Admittedly that’s just too much to ask for a base price of a non-limited edition MINI. My thoughts? If they could add both of these options and sneak the car just under the $30K mark then I think MINI would have themselves a winner and a brand builder for JCW.

All this aside we do believe this car will be a success and should easily be the fastest factory MINI ever created. And since this isn’t going to be marketed as a GP replacement, the blank slate approach seems to suit it rather well.