MINI John Cooper Works (2015) Review

MINI John Cooper Works (2015) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The MINI John Cooper Works is officially the most powerful MINI hatch ever, which is a fact that might be enough to win it admirers all on its own.

Very quick and outrageous fun, yet still emits a reasonable 165g/km and has potential for 40mpg, available as hatch, convertible and Clubman.

Doesn't like uneven surfaces, money spent on expensive options not likely to be seen again.

The John Cooper Works badge guarantees plenty of excitement when it’s attached to any MINI. With this hatch model, it means a 231PS turbocharged motor that gives access to 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 153mph. That’s potent stuff for any hot hatch and the MINI backs it up with the sort of handling that has you seeking out the long way home every time. Of course, being a MINI, there are downsides such as the cramped rear seats and small boot, so it’s not the most practical car in its class.

Yet even with its 231PS power output set to one side, the JCW is still one of the most entertaining, characterful and well-made hot hatches on sale, let down only by its high price and less than impressive practicality.

The JCW is differentiated from the lesser Cooper S by its bolder, more aggressive styling. There are unique alloy wheels, large red brake calipers, plus a big roof spoiler and a JCW-specific front bumper. At the rear there’s a new twin-exit exhaust tuned to deliver a characterful exhaust note, complete with a crackling, popping overrun.

A mild update in 2018 introduced some emissions-improving technology to keep the JCW as clean and green as possible. It didn’t affect engine power or performance, which remain the same as before, but there were some cosmetic upgrades.

They included new 17-inch Track Spoke alloy wheels and Dinamica faux suede and leather for the seats. You can also have the JCW as a Convertible, Clubman or Countryman, though it’s the hatch that works best for those keen on the sharpest handling and driving fun. 

Performance is impressive in any of the JCW models thanks to its power and turbocharged shove. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 6.3 seconds and top speed is 153mph, but it’s not all about straight line pace as the Cooper JCW enjoys great handling and feels perfectly at home on a twisting B-road.

The steering is nicely weighted and, while definitely on the firm side, the suspension treads the line between ride quality and a fun drive very well.

Fun though it may be, the MINI Cooper JCW isn’t without its flaws. The cabin, while very well-finished and attractive, is somewhat cramped. This is particularly true in the back, which is too tight to be comfortable for adults or teenagers. The boot is on the small side too, though it is still enough for shopping trips.

But the biggest problem of all is the price. £23,050 is steep and that’s before anything has been picked out of a huge options list. It’s more than a Ford Fiesta ST costs, which is every bit the dynamic equivalent of the MINI and comes with a roomier cabin. As a result, you really have to want a MINI John Cooper Works over and above any of its rivals to see past these sorts of flaws.

However, there is so much fun to be had, delivered in such a charming way, that the MINI Cooper JCW is still very easy to recommend if your budget stretches far enough. And it also has the cache of that John Cooper association and heritage that no other hot hatch can call on.

What does a MINI John Cooper Works (2015) cost?