Hot Mini John Cooper Works returns with petrol power

2 months ago - 21 May 2024, autocar
Hot Mini John Cooper Works returns with petrol power
Golf GTI rival to race at the Nurburgring 24 Hours next weekend, before reveal in autumn

The hot new John Cooper Works version of the petrol-powered Mini hatchback has been revealed in camouflaged competition form ahead of its official debut later this year.

The overhauled hot hatch is making its first outing at next weekend’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race. It will be entered into the loosely regulated SP 3T class by Mini motorsport firm Bulldog Racing and wear a camouflage livery inspired by Paddy Hopkirk’s Monte Carlo Rally-winning Mini Cooper S from 1964.

The full reveal – along with official powertrain specifications and production details – will happen in the autumn, said Mini, but already it is apparent how the hot hatch will be made visually more aggressive than the standard car.

Bespoke styling cues include a much more prominent front grille flanked by a pair of new air intakes, a chunky rear diffuser – which will be toned down for the road-going car – and an upturned roof spoiler.

There will also be a performance version of the second-generation electric Mini Cooper, but this new British-built petrol car will effectively be a heavily updated version of the previous John Cooper Works. It will keep its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine but probably gain a boost in power over the previous car’s 231bhp to keep pace with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

As with the old car, it will use a performance-focused chassis with uprated springs and dampers, together with various components that have been lightened and strengthened with the intention of enhancing responsiveness and agility.

The brakes are likely to be beefier and the previous JCW’s electronically selectable two-way adaptive dampers could return as a no-cost option.

Like the Golf GTI, the hot Cooper will only be available with an automatic gearbox, Mini having ended manual production with last year’s John Cooper Works 1to6 special edition.

The petrol-powered JCW will arrive in dealers later this year, with the electric version following in 2025. The EV model is thought to use a single motor with greater reserves than the 215bhp and 243lb ft of the Cooper SE.

Mini has yet to confirm if the madcap GP moniker will return for an extreme, track-honed version of the new JCW, but it is highly likely that the new five-door Mini hatch – due later this year – will be given the JCW treatment, too.

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