Mini is no longer a synonym for a small car.  

Over generations, it has grown significantly in size, power and price and the John Cooper Works is the maximum Mini you can get for your money.

If you don’t consider the other spin-offs in the Mini range of collectibles that is. It maximises the veritable 2.0lt turbo petrol motor of the regular Cooper S and massages another 40bhp and 40Nm of torque to give it the requisite thrills on the track.

Mini (India) had enough of these sharp tools to go around all the car nuts assembled at the Madras Motor Race Track. After learning all about the perfect racing lines and clipping the apex, it was time for hot laps and with 231bhp on tap and an exhaust burbling with personality, it didn’t disappoint! On the track, the extra power over the standard Cooper S certainly helped in getting out of a corner faster but it was also the new 8-speed gearbox and stiffer suspension that impressed with rapid changes and massive grip.

Some of the graphics on the 8.8in touchscreen have a more grown-up feel to them but there’s denying the instant smile the handling and chuckable nature of this chassis brings to your face. Even though only the front wheels are driven, there was never any torque steer and in fact, you can even get the tail out if you really stand on the throttle. The Mini as always, is maximum fun. But, at a cost…

Mini John Cooper Works Hatch : Union of the bratty Brits

You won’t be lambasted if you fail to tell the 2019 JCW from the 2018 model, but the queen surely will sneer if you miss the new Union Jack tail lights. In fact, the theme continues on the inside as well with an optional trim that gives you another illuminated Union Jack pattern right on the dash. As is common with the brand, it’s the optional extras on top of the base price that really make the Mini more personal. On the JCW, thankfully a lot of the kit is standard such as the Head-up display, Harman Kardon hi-fi, rear-view camera, sports transmission and more. But still, check all the boxes and you could rack up to ₹8 lakhs worth of goodies that you won’t be able to live without once you see them in action!

Mini John Cooper Works Hatch: Sound out

Part of the John Cooper Works attitude is the sport exhaust that’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand up instantly. It used to be controlled by a Bluetooth remote earlier but since this is the proper JCW car and not just a mod or kit, it’s built into the Sports mode of the drive mode selector. Power comes on quick and the solid brakes bring you back to nought with equal aplomb. Stiffer suspension compared to the standard Cooper S means we had a riot on the track but that doesn’t translate well for the war zone that is Mumbai streets so we shall reserve our comments about ride quality until we have a review car in the city.

Mini John Cooper Works Hatch: Always in style

Although circular has been the preferred motif inside the Mini since 2001, the designers have done a great job of refining the content that is shown up in the circular elements. A new 6.5in touchscreen is standard and you can upgrade to a bigger 8.8in display too. Go-kart graphics and quirkiness aside, the system works extremely well and the new gear-selector is a welcome change. The toggle switches that made the Mini interior so iconic still remain and the overall fit and finish is of the highest order, making you feel like you got your money’s worth.

Mini John Cooper Works Hatch: Initial Verdict

While the Cooper S is no slowpoke, the JCW takes it to a higher level of track-worthiness. It’s noticeably stiffer, louder and dearer. If you can afford and justify the cost of the Cooper S, might as well go the whole hog!

Where to buy Mini John Cooper Works Hatch first drive: