Mini John Cooper Works Concept
It’s a good thing Mini builds small cars, because its lineup is pretty darn crowded. With the three-door hardtop, convertible, coupe, roadster, Clubman, Paceman, Countryman, and John Cooper Works iterations of all of those sharing showroom space, the brand certainly isn’t hurting for variation. Alas, a new Mini hatchback is upon us, meaning it’s time to get ready for most—if not all—of those Mini variants to be overhauled over the next couple of years. First up: a high-po three-door. Set to roll onto Mini’s show stand in Detroit next month, this concept previews the next in a line of JCW variants that have appeared since BMW re-launched Mini in the early 2000s. When this concept eventually makes the transition to production, it will be the largest three-door John Cooper Works yet. That’s because the third-gen Mini has grown a bit, by 4.5 inches in length, and it’s a little more than an inch wider, too. Mini might not have contained the car’s footprint, but it did carry over the current JCW’s look almost entirely intact. The concept features a familiar red-and-black exterior trim package, with a red roof, door mirrors, hood stripes, brake calipers, and fascia accents, as well as a blacked-out grille and rear fascia. For the show car, Mini also went all-out on the main body color, a striking shade called Bright Highways Gray; it boasts a hand-polished surface layer that’s finished with clear coat. We can’t speak to its luster from the photos, but we can say that it plays nicely with the contrasting red- and black-colored trim. Functional JCW elements include more-aggressive front and rear fascias that swap the standard hardtop’s fog-light nacelles for brake ducts and add a rear “diffuser element.” There’s also a roof spoiler, rocker-panel extensions, and unspecified “body components” that are designed to smooth the flow of air around the C-pillars. The car rides on a handsomely chunky set of 18-inch five-spoke wheels, and JCW badges adorn the grille, fender signal lamps, and the dual exhaust outlets.Although Mini goes to great length waxing poetic about the JCW’s exterior design, it’s relatively mum on mechanical details. The concept features a sports exhaust system, but there’s no mention of what engine breathes through those (presumably freer-flowing) pipes. Mini does say the concept will feature “an unmistakable engine soundtrack,” but that’s entirely unhelpful. The 2014 Mini Cooper is powered by a 134-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, while the Cooper S gets a 189-hp turbo 2.0-liter four. The predictable route is for the JCW to repurpose the bigger 2.0-liter—with more power, of course—although a high-output tri-holer would be an interesting option, and would sound “unmistakable.” Expect a six-speed manual to be standard, and an automatic with the same number of cogs to be available as an option.