Super Cooper: New MINI John Cooper Works is the best yet

The new MINI John Cooper Works is superb but expensive
The new MINI John Cooper Works is superb but expensive

Only BMW could take a car called the MINI and take it to the max.

And that is exactly what they have done with the most powerful production MINI ever built – The John Cooper works.

For those of you not in not in the know, John Cooper was a co-founder, along with his father Charles Cooper, of the Cooper Car Company. 

John himself became an auto racing legend with his rear-engined chassis design that would eventually change the face of the sport at its highest levels, from Formula One to the Indianapolis 500.

However, it was his development of the British Motor Corporation Mini - the Mini Cooper – that he is most famous for, and his little pocket rockets were adored by both rally racers and ordinary road drivers. 

Before John Cooper’s death, the Cooper name was licensed to BMW for the higher-performance versions of the cars, inspired by the original Mini, sold as the MINI. 

John, along with his son Mike, served in an advisory role to BMW and Rover’s New MINI design team.

And the latest MINI to proudly sport his name on the back, will certainly appeal to hardcore fans.

At the top of the queue, will be the MINI enthusiasts who must have the latest pocket rocket in their collection. 

The other potential buyers are the ones with racing in their blood, or those who have access to a proper race track – because that’s where this beauty truly belongs.

Fitted with a 2.0-litre MINI TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine this pocket rocket is blistering quick.

And, as two MINI nuts we have to admit this is possibly one of the best hot hatches we have ever driven.

However, unfortunately for both of us, and many like us, it has been priced way above our pay grade.  

With a starting price of €36,180 and up to €50k when you add on the must-have extras, we don’t expect to see many of them on our Irish roads.

Although there are much more affordable hot-hatches on the market like the Opel Corsa OPC reviewed on the opposite page, there are few that can match the kart-like experience that this John Cooper Works offers. 

Acceleration from 0-100 kmh takes just 6.3 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission – an improvement of 0.2 seconds over the previous model – and an even more rapid 6.1 seconds with the optional six-speed Steptronic sports automatic gearbox, which includes launch control.

We tested the automatic gearbox with paddles on our week-long test drive, but we both agreed that we would much prefer a manual gearbox in a  gem like this.

All versions of the MINI John Cooper Works have automatic engine stop/start so that fuel consumption and emissions are completely eliminated when the car is at standstill in traffic.

And, even better, is that it can be stripped down to drive around town like a pussy cat as opposed to the puma when you open her up.

But what’s the point in having a beast like this and driving around like Miss Daisy. I couldn’t but help myself from putting the foot to the floor just to hear t  he bang from the exhaust.

Overall the Works has everything you would ever want in a hot hatch but I can’t see myself paying that kind of cash for it.

There are  much more affordable options if you are in the market for a hot hatch – but they can’t match the MINI in the handling stakes.

Model: MINI John Cooper Works
Price: From €36,311 
(€48, 220.59 test car) 
Tax Band: B2 (€280 per year) 
Fuel Economy: 5.7 litres/100km (claimed)
Top speed: 246km/h
0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds
Boot space: 278- to 941 litres