MINI Cooper 2021 john cooper works classic, MINI Clubman 2021 john cooper works classic, MINI Cooper 2021 jcw gp

Mini John Cooper Works range review

There's plenty of history behind the John Cooper Works name, and now you can maximise your Mini experience with JCW options across the range!

As fun and engaging as every Mini is to drive, it’s fair to say that some of us might want just a little bit more. This is where Mini’s performance arm, John Cooper Works (JCW), comes in.

What is JCW you ask? Well...

Back in 1961, British Motor Corporation teamed up with English racing legend John Cooper to produce a sportier version of its new compact car, the Mini.

The first Cooper featured a bigger, more powerful engine with twin carbs, a shorter-ratio gearbox and better brakes – and just 1000 were commissioned to be built. The very next year, a factory-backed or ‘works’ team Mini Cooper took first place in the British Touring Car Championship – winning seven of the 10 rounds.

The Cooper and even more powerful Cooper S were a runaway success – that initial 1000 cars turned into some 64,000 Mk-1 Coopers and an additional 19,000 Cooper S sales.

John Cooper continued to work on road and race Minis throughout the 1960s, with John Cooper Works cars achieving three wins in the famed and gruelling Monte Carlo Rally, and even in the Australian Touring Car Championship at Bathurst.

When the ‘new’ Mini Cooper was launched in 2003, a JCW kit was initially offered as an option. But in 2006, the first fully JCW-tuned car, the Mini JCW GP, arrived, and in 2008 the first new Mini JCW model was released as a three-door hatch.

The current John Cooper Works range spans five models in the Mini line-up. Before we get started on the range, here are the details of the most basic Mini you can buy, a three-door Cooper Classic, for comparison.

2021 Mini Cooper Classic
Engine1.5-litre (1499cc) three-cylinder turbo petrol (B38A15M1)
Power100kW @ 6500rpm
Torque220Nm @ 1480–4100rpm
TransmissionSix-speed manual or seven-speed automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1130kg
Power to weight ratio88.5kW/t
0–100km/h claim7.9 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)5.5L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)211L/731L
Turning circle10.8m
Footprint (length x width x height)3821mm x 1727mm x 1414mm
Wheelbase2495mm
Price (MSRP)$35,150

With that context set, here's how the JCW cars stack up...


Mini Cooper JCW three-door hatch

This is now the third-generation Mini John Cooper Works hatch, which resembles the 1960s original Mini Cooper by door count only.

Whereas the original car had 47kW on tap, this one has a 170kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. That's 29kW and 40Nm more than the 2.0-litre turbo engine in the regular Cooper S.

Cars are available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, and like the classic Cooper is front-wheel drive.

It might be the entry point to the JCW range, but make no mistake – this thing is an absolute hoot to drive. It feels taut and balanced and sounds terrific!

The best bit – you can make it your own with hundreds of combinations thanks to a choice of 10 exterior colours, four roof colours, three racing stripe colours, and a multitude of upholstery and trims. Plus, if you prefer the wind in your hair, the JCW hatch is also available as a convertible...

2021 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works
Engine2.0-litre (1998cc) four-cylinder turbo petrol (B48A20O1)
Power170kW @ 6200rpm
Torque320Nm @ 1450–4800rpm
TransmissionSix-speed manual or eight-speed automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1235kg
Power to weight ratio137.7kW/t
0–100km/h claim6.3 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)6.9L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)211L/731L
Turning circle10.8m
Footprint (length x width x height)3874mm x 1727mm x 1414mm
Wheelbase2495mm
Price (MSRP)$53,700–$61,300

Mini Cabrio JCW

The Mini Cabrio John Cooper Works shares the same engine and drivetrain as the hatch, but also features a powered soft-top that can raise and lower in 18 seconds.

It has the same powertrain, and is also available with a manual or automatic transmission.

The near 100kg weight penalty for the folding roof and extra bracing gives the Cabrio a slightly slower 0–100km/h sprint time (6.5sec to 6.3sec).

2021 Mini Cabrio John Cooper Works
Engine2.0-litre (1998cc) four-cylinder turbo petrol (B48A20O1)
Power170kW @ 6200rpm
Torque320Nm @ 1450–4800rpm
TransmissionSix-speed manual or eight-speed automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1334kg
Power to weight ratio127.4kW/t
0–100km/h claim6.5 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)6.3L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)160L/215L
Turning circle10.8m
Footprint (length x width x height)3874mm x 1727mm x 1414mm
Wheelbase2495mm
Price (MSRP)$59,250–$66,900

Mini Clubman JCW

But – a compact three-door hatch isn’t for everyone, so if you want your Mini with a few more doors – the Mini Clubman John Cooper Works has six.

Plus, the Clubman JCW is all-wheel drive, offering more grip and confidence on tight, winding roads – or racetracks.

Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a massive 225kW and 450Nm – that's 55kW and 130Nm more than the JCW hatch, and more than double the base Cooper!

While a manual transmission is available lower in the range, all JCW cars use the eight-speed Aisin sports automatic transmission.

It feels a lot quicker than the hatch – with a sub-5.0sec 0–100km/h sprint time, and is able to carry so much more speed through bends thanks to the AWD system.

Plus – it’s practical! The miniature wagon shape can easily accommodate long items like a surfboard – just in case you’re in a hurry to catch some swell.

2021 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works
Engine2.0-litre (1998cc) four-cylinder turbo petrol (B48A20T1)
Power225kW @ 6250rpm
Torque450Nm @ 1750–4500rpm
TransmissionEight-speed automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1521kg
Power to weight ratio147.9kW/t
0–100km/h claim4.9 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)7.7L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)360L/1250L
Turning circle11.3m
Footprint (length x width x height)4266mm x 1800mm x 1441mm
Wheelbase2670mm
Price (MSRP)$60,750–$68,950

Mini Countryman JCW

For even more practicality – the same engine and driveline found in the Clubman is available in the bigger Countryman SUV.

The Countryman JCW also offers all-wheel drive in all models, plus a really flexible interior that makes for a sensible family car that doesn’t compromise on the Mini JCW driving experience.

Bigger overall than the Clubman, the Countryman is a titch slower than the six-door micro-wagon, but is still quicker in the 0–100km/h sprint than a regular Cooper JCW hatch.

2021 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works
Engine2.0-litre (1998cc) four-cylinder turbo petrol (B48A20T1)
Power225kW @ 6250rpm
Torque450Nm @ 1750–4500rpm
TransmissionEight-speed automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1605kg
Power to weight ratio140.2kW/t
0–100km/h claim5.1 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)7.6L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)450L/1390L
Turning circle11.4m
Footprint (length x width x height)4297mm x 1822mm x 1557mm
Wheelbase2670mm
Price (MSRP)$61,915–$71,013

Mini JCW GP

And if all of the above aren't enough – there’s also the slightly bonkers Mini JCW GP.

Beneath all those wings and fender flares is the same 225kW/450Nm engine from the Clubman and Countryman, but in the much lighter and aerodynamically enhanced three-door body. Power to weight on this extreme Mini is 182.6kW/t – more than double a standard Cooper!

Ironically, the Clubman JCW is quicker off the mark thanks to its AWD system, but the JCW GP can build and carry tremendous speed through corners, a skill assisted by that enormous rear wing.

The wild carbon-fibre wheel spats add 35mm to the width of the car, and are also made from sustainable up-cycled material – giving the latest JCW GP performance, with a conscience.

The John Cooper Works GP is a strictly limited and definitely collectable model, with only 67 made available to Australia. All are individually numbered, but sadly if you want one, you’re all out of luck – they’re all sold out!

Bottom line, the GP is a stack of fun. You get the straight-line performance from the faster Clubman, but it feels so much more lively thanks to some considerable weight savings. There are no rear seats, and all it has at the back is this racecar-like cross-brace to help stiffen up the chassis.

That race exhaust growls and roars all the way to the redline, and pops and crackles on the overrun. Just wild! I’m shifting gears on these special 3D-printed paddles on either side of the wheel, and the sports transmission is lightning quick as we blitz through the track.

The GP is still front-wheel drive, but features a unique mechanical limited-slip differential to allow the power to transfer to the wheels, especially on corner exits.

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP
Engine2.0-litre (1998cc) four-cylinder turbo petrol (B48A20T1)
Power225kW @ 6250rpm
Torque450Nm @ 1750–4500rpm
TransmissionEight-speed automatic
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Mass (Kerb)1255kg
Power to weight ratio182.6kW/t
0–100km/h claim5.2 seconds
Fuel claim combined (ADR)7.5L/100km
Boot volume (rear seats up/down)731L
Turning circle10.9m
Footprint (length x width x height)3879mm x 1762mm x 1420mm
Wheelbase2495mm
Price (MSRP)$63,900

So, there you have it – a full range of JCW choices for those who want to elevate their Mini experience. Worth noting too, that we may see an electric addition to the JCW lineup soon too!

For me – the Mini Clubman JCW is the perfect balance. It’s fast, fun and handles well, plus I love the cool barn doors at the back!

What’s your pick of the JCW range?

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