July 15, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Car Review - Mini Cooper JCW 2013

Make/Model: MINI Cooper John Cooper Works 2013
Colour: Black with red roof
New?: Demo, had 5400km on the clock
Engine: 1.6l Turbocharged
Power/Torque: 155kW (208 BHP) @ 6000 rpm / 280Nm (207 ft/lb) @ 2,000-5,100 rpm (overboost)
Average Fuel Consumption: 6 - 8 l/100 km (Highway - City) (I did get 800km on 50L tank)
Performance: 0-100km/h in 6.5s, 238 km/h top speed
Owned: Jul 2013 - Current

Riiiight... Moving from a 400bhp+ Mustang to a MINI Cooper JCW is quite a change. These cars cannot be more different. One is a large, unrefined American muscle car, the other is a tiny, refined British go-cart. I've driven it now for more than half a year, so I think I am in a better position to give an unbiased review.

The MINI is very small and agile, it is really nice to drive downtown. Getting a parking spot is very easy, turning is easy and the steering is incredibly accurate and direct compared to the Mustang. Throttle response is ok but not stellar due to the turbo lag. Brakes work really well due to the Brembo fitted break pads. Acceleration is good - it definitely feels fast. Obviously it does not have the explosive power of the Mustang, but you never really feel you need more power when driving in the city. On the open road I miss the Mustang's ferocious power. The manual gearshift is one of the best I have ever used.

Unfortunately it is not all roses. The boot space is very small. Sure, when the seats are folded down it can carry a lot of stuff, but then you cannot have any passengers in the car. There is some torque steer. The accurate steering is also a source of great frustration. You have to constantly perform micro adjustments of the steering wheel to keep the car going straight. This gets tiring on long roads. The seats - Recaro racing seats - do provide great stability in the corners, but on a long road the leg space and seats do not make for a comfortable ride. Coupled with the hard suspension and run flat tires - you will need to plan several stops on a long journey to stretch your legs and butt.

Some minor irritations are seat belts that are hard to get at (they tend to get stuck between the chair and the door), the passenger's seatbelt buckle that bangs against the door when not in use, the windscreen washer fluid that sprays overly vigorous causing the sticky fluid to cover the side windows, a very broken satellite navigation system that never routes you via the most efficient route regardless of setting (it will happily choose a 46 km trip on highways over a 10km trip also on a highway if both takes the same duration to complete).

Oh, if you have Sirius XM, make sure not to use your spare key. I used the spare key the other day to charge it, and much to my dismay this kicked the satellite in Preview mode. Trying my main key afterwards did not help - the system had reverted to being unsubscribed, and this is usually a 15 minute long phone call to get re-activated.

All in all - I like the car a lot. But I will not be keeping it after my lease expires.

Update: I recently took the car on a 1700km round trip to Banff. Although the car behaved itself very well, it is not a long distance tourer. No place for my legs to rest against and after the trip my back was killing me.

Mini Cooper JCW Front
Mini Cooper JCW Front
Mini Cooper JCW Rear
Mini Cooper JCW Rear