MINI John Cooper Works review filed by Rachel Franco.
Driving around town in the 2016 Mini John Cooper Works, the most powerful production MINI ever made, well, all I can say is WOW.
Why do I like this car so much? Basically it’s a street legal go-kart, and I’m not even kidding. With the option of 3 driving modes; green, mid and sport (which actually states on the dashboard display that it is the closest to an actual go-kart experience), the urge to flick it into sport and have some fun is overwhelming at times… in fact, most of the time.
The MINI John Cooper Works is like a drug – you just can’t get enough, and I think I’m addicted.
With a 170kW Twin Power 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, I was hooning… I mean driving, around in the automatic version. This didn’t detract from the fun at all. But with a little petrol tank (just under 50 litres), especially in sports mode, it chews through fuel pretty quick.
That’s why I think this car is perfect for people living in the city where trips are usually short and sweet, and not urban fringe-dwellers like myself.
I must admit, initially I wasn’t that enamored with the dash, but the more I drove it the more it grew on me. The main dash display looks a bit like an old school jukebox, with colour changing lighting around the circular display based on what program you’re in (media, GPS etc.).
It’s a bit of fun, but not really necessary. If you like circles, you’ll love the MINI interior.
Everything is in easy reach, but with a lot of knobs and switches it looks a bit more complicated than it should be. Thank heavens for the digital speedometer as well as the traditional version, where the speed increments are displayed much smaller than I’m used to.
I found it a little harder to see at a quick glance what speed I was doing, so I appreciated having both. And, you know, I like to know how fast I’m going as I potentially get done for speeding.
The exterior is classic MINI on steroids, with large air intakes at the front and a twin centre exhaust at the back. I had the British Racing Green version, with black stripes, red roof and red and chrome highlights.
There is no missing the John Cooper Works MINI on the road.
The cabin is well appointed, if a little snug. The finish is exceptional; it felt high end and not plastic and cheap. That may have something to do with the BMW components throughout this car. Starting at a smidge under $50,000 (or from $47,400 for the manual) I think it’s great value for the high spec vehicle that you’re getting.
Now, at just shy of 5’3” I’m on the vertically challenged side, and even I found this car cozy. I drove with a male friend who at about 5’10” and broad found it cramped. I feel like it’s trying to cram everything in – yes, I love a centre console and armrest as much as the next person, but if it ain’t gonna fit then it ain’t gonna fit.
Personally, I’d rather sacrifice something like that for a little extra room. And bags not being in the back seat - even with two smaller people in the front, you’d be lucky to fit in a couple of small children or some yoga devotees.
Did it pass my airport pick up test? Well, yes and no. The boot space is minimal (deep vertically rather than horizontally) and with such little room in the back seat, you’d really only be able to take yourself and your luggage to and from the airport.
Having said that, a MINI owner I spoke to has been carting around a drum kit in the back of his, so if you fold the back seats down and are good at Tetris then you’re sweet.
It feels solid, like it’s glued to the road. Braking and steering are really tight, and it handles beautifully, particularly when cornering and at speed. I was anticipating it being a hard ride, but it surprisingly wasn’t, even in sport mode.
It accelerates without missing a beat, and boy is it quick. Before you know it, somewhat frustratingly, you’re at 60km/h. I wish I had a racetrack nearby to just fang around on.
I really want this car. Do I need or should I have this car? No. Honestly, I’d lose my license in the first week of driving it out of the showroom, and I really hate public transport.
But having driven sensible cars my whole driving life, maybe it’s time to start having a bit more fun, and for me this car certainly puts the fun back into driving.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 MINI John Cooper Works
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 170kW and 320Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
Safety: Four stars
Warranty: Three years
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: From $47,400