Sources at Car and Driver are saying that MINI chief and former BMW M division boss, Dr. Kay Segler, has very real aspirations to finally turn the John Cooper Works into the stand-alone, performance skunkworks that frankly, we’ve always wanted it to be. We’ve heard this from MINI before, but with Dr. Kay at the helm, will the dream finally come true? What could this mean for future JCW MINI models? Details after the break.

First of all, Dr. Kay wants to push JCW beyond packages and accessories and produce stand-alone MINI JCW models — just like BMW’s M cars.

Once the JCW Countryman arrives, MINI will offer John Cooper Works packages for all of its models, but Segler wants to further differentiate JCW products in the future. This means that cars wouldn’t so much be equipped with the John Cooper Works package, but rather positioned as standalone models.

Mini already considers the standard JCW powerplant—a turbocharged 1.6-liter four making at least 208 hp—a “unique” engine, and not a standard Cooper S mill with more boost. But we interpret Segler’s remarks to mean that the John Cooper Works engine will come in for additional work in the future; that could mean it will get some unique internals, or that the displacement will be increased. Segler’s sentiments also suggest that more hard-core, limited-edition models like the upcoming new-gen MINI GP could be produced.

Could the next generation MINI GP be the first in a whole generation of stand-alone JCW cars? That’s a thrilling prospect to say the least. But if the John Cooper Works does start producing independent models, will any of us mere mortals be able to afford one?

Even though Minis have a real penchant for getting absurdly expensive with options and accessories—see our $46,244, ex-long-term JCW convertible as a prime example—Segler says the company will be careful about pricing future John Cooper Works offerings. Take a note from the relatively reasonable pricing of the BMW 1-series M and M3 GTS, we’re told. Considering that the 1-series M was something of a bargain at $47,010, that’s encouraging.

That’s highly encouraging. What good is a line of halo cars if they can only sell a handful? But perhaps the best thing that would come from a more dedicated JCW would be cars that much more highly tuned for performance. If past MINI models are the guidepost, two examples come to mind. The 2006 JCW GP, and the JCW version of the new MINI CoupĂ© (which was designed as the “default” version of the car). Both cars are examples of MINIs that have been developed with a lot of focus. The result in both cases is a car with that little bit more — that little extra bit of feel, performance and refinement. If JCW gets to package each of its models this way, the result is likely to be really, really good.

[Source: Car and Driver Blog]