The new Mini Cooper JCW will undercut the $49,900 Audi S1 when it goes on sale in Australia around the middle of next year.
Mini Australia national manager Kai Bruesewitz told CarAdvice the new John Cooper Works hot-hatch would be priced from “around $48,000” in three-door six-speed manual form, very deliberately slotting about $2000 beneath key rival Audi’s recently released pocket rocket.
The production version of the Mini JCW is all but confirmed to be unveiled at January’s Detroit auto show, debuting exactly 12 months after the British brand initially teased the John Cooper Works concept.
“We have seen the concept car, and from what I’ve heard the production model is pretty similar to the concept,” Bruesewitz said at the launch of the new Mini 5 Door.
“We can expect a stronger differentiation from the JCW to the Cooper S from a visual perspective, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
The new price point will represent a circa-$2500 price drop compared with the previous Mini JCW, which started at $50,400.
“It should be no secret that with the improvements in the price positioning for Mini One, Cooper, Cooper S, we won’t leave the John Cooper Works where it is today,” the local boss said.
“JCW is only an engine variant, however for us in Australia with the high share of JCW engines in our line-up it’s very important for us, we are really looking forward to that.”
Bruesewitz said while the three-door version is confirmed for production, Mini was yet to make a final decision on a 5 Door JCW.
“I would love to have one but at this stage we are not sure,” he said.
Such a model seems almost certain to get the green light, however, given the relative simplicity of transplanting drivetrains and mechanical components from the three-door to the larger hatchback.
Bruesewitz said five-door, all-wheel-drive Audi S1 – which he admitted was a “good car” – would be the closest rival for Mini’s new-generation three-door, front-wheel-drive JCW when it arrives in mid-2015.
Rumours have linked the upcoming hot-hatch with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine used in the BMW 225i Active Tourer, with which the Mini shares its UKL platform. That engine produces 170kW and 350Nm, which would represent a significant boost over the old 1.6-litre JCW (155kW/260Nm) and the current 2.0-litre Cooper S (141kW/280Nm) and align it closely with the S1’s 170kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo.
More details on the Mini JCW will be revealed in the lead up to its anticipated unveiling at January’s Detroit show.