The market penetration for Mini’s John Cooper Works (JCW) performance models in Australia sits at about double the global average — a similar situation to that enjoyed by parent company BMW Australia’s M Division.
Mini’s JCW sales are currently running at about 10 per cent of its total in Australia, equal to about 230 units (from a year-to-date brand tally of 2318 units, up 6 per cent). That’s a higher proportion than any market worldwide of a similar, or greater, volume scale.
Moreover, sales of JCW products worldwide are running well ahead of target, meaning production is maxed-out and supply issues are becoming a factor — despite “really bullish” initial targets, according to visiting Mini global senior vice-president Sebastien Mackensen.
Mini offers JCW derivatives of its Hatch and Convertible, and recently Clubman wagon and Countryman crossover SUV derivatives, all priced from $48,100 before on-road costs out to $57,900 — and all with 170kW turbo engines with between 320Nm and 350Nm of torque. Not cheap.
It’s another example of European performance sub-brands performing well above average in Australia, despite our low speed limits. BMW M, Audi Sport, Mercedes-AMG, Renault Sport and Volkswagen’s GTI/R products all enjoy proportional success here that makes other regions around the globe weep.
The success of Mini’s JCW product offerings prompted us to ask Mackensen if a dedicated standalone Mini sports car could materialise. The company axed the Coupe, Roadster and Paceman a few years back because of cannibalisation, but could a range expansion of a different sort work?
For example, who could forget the already iconic Mini Superleggera Vision bespoke roadster concept from the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.
“Tricky question,” Mackensen said. “I would say we are always looking at what could be options in the market, I wouldn’t like to close ourselves out to anything.
“… Is there any plan to do the Coupe and Roadster again? I would say no — but that doesn’t mean we have to stand still for the next 10 years,” he said, though adding that any theoretical production Superleggera would be super low-volume.