Tasked with building something to serve as the official safety car for the 2021 FIA Formula E World Championship, Mini has delivered a vehicle that bridges the gap between the raucous and rowdy John Cooper Works model and all-electric Mini Electric. While one-offs aren’t usually all that interesting to your average consumer, the Mini Pacesetter seems to be providing the automaker with a space to test some of its theories about how a JCW EV might take shape and will likely foreshadow such a product.
The manufacturer has even acknowledged this, though it’s a little early to expect an electrified version of Mini’s flagship performance model. Despite looking like it’s ready to compete in a series of its own, the Pacesetter uses an unmodified motor lifted from the Mini Electric. That means about 180 horsepower and a smidgen over 200 foot-pounds of torque, which would have been outstanding on the featherweight original. But the last few decades have forced Mini’s products to become comparatively portly, requiring the brand to shave as much weight off the Pacesetter as it could.
No brand is immune from putting out special editions to honor its heritage, and so it is with Mini. The company is launching two – the 2021 Mini Cooper 1499 GT and 2021 Mini Countryman Oxford Edition.
The former is meant to be a homage to the classic Mini 1275 GT, while the latter does not, as far as we know, come with a tweed blazer with elbow patches.
In conjunction with the 24 Hours of Nürburgring this past weekend, Mini presented a lightly-disguised John Cooper Works GP well before its scheduled on-sale date in 2020. With more than 300 horsepower on tap, the new JCW GP is almost half a minute faster than its predecessor around the Nordschleife.
While development tuning is still in process, the JCW GP lapped the “Green Hell” in less than 8 minutes. While that is impressive for any front-wheel-drive hot hatch, it will inevitably be compared to the 7:43.80 that was set by the Civic Type R. Whether it reaches that figure or not, it shares outlandish design style and boy-racer looks with the Type R.
Even though Mini has issued teasers for the new batch of John Cooper Works models for months, we’ve been disinclined to take the bait. It’s not that there’s something wrong with JCW cars; there just wasn’t a lot information to be gleaned from those announcements.
We were waiting for the company to confirm the rumor that the 2020 model year would see an upgraded powerplant to serve as a bit of a game changer for the brand — which is exactly what Mini did this week.
Mini’s largest model is about to get the most powerful engine currently available to the brand from its parent company, BMW. The company will offer up its 2018 Countryman as the latest John Cooper Works model, adorned with polarizing paint jobs and a powerful 2.0-liter turbo.
While the idea of a performance crossover might seem like an oxymoron, as well as being a bit impractical — especially considering Mini already makes a quicker and more nimble JCW Cooper with the same engine — there’s a precedent of the concept working.
Having been a player in the small car category since its 2001 reboot, Mini now seeks to take on the burgeoning premium sporty compact segment with this, the new John Cooper Works Clubman.
Before 2011, if you were looking for a hot hatch but wanted something MINIer than a Cooper, your options were limited to the less than smart Smart BRABUS. With fuel costs on the rise and fuel economy targets looming, MINI and Fiat are hoping to tempt “sporty” shoppers into something smaller and more practical. This week we have the MINI answer to the question: why doesn’t MINI make a heavier John Cooper Works (JCW) without back seats? We kid, we kid. But in all seriousness, why would you buy the MINI Coupé instead of the four-seater JCW Cooper, JCW Roadster or even the sexy Italian we tested last week?
There it was: a honk, a pair of grins and waves from two middle aged women in a MINI Cooper. It was time to find out whether these MINI fans approve of my epic (patent pending) Mehta parking lot swagger, or if the allure of the John Cooper Works MINI had reduced them to smiles. After all, the JCW is more than just a serious piece of hot-hatch kit, it’s wake-up call for the non-believer: spend some time in this car and you’ll have no choice but to learn just how crazy people are about their MINIs. And in this cult of the cutesy and subcompact, the John Cooper Works is king. But does any of this actually justify parting with $33,000 for a tiny, front-drive car?
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