Posted Dec 21st 2012 11:58AM
It looks like 2012 was certainly the year of the MINI for Autoblog Canada. After a trio of press events and more than few press loaners, we were behind the wheel of nearly every conceivable body style and trim offered. Earlier this year we had a chance to flog the Cooper S Coupe, then Cooper S Roadster and later on JCW versions of both two-seaters. While we enjoyed our flat-out drive of the Cooper S, the test for the JCW was more appropriately conducted on the track, Mosport DDT to be more specific.
We mentioned in our full review of the Cooper S Roadster that we didn't understand why the Coupe and Roadster were two separate cars. While we aren't engineers, perhaps a lot of resources could have been saved to design a retractable hardtop system? Either way, having all of the JCW product together made it clear that the Coupe is fastest around the track and the roadster is close behind. The JCW Roaster is a capable, compact track car, right out of the box on the tires that the manufacturer sold it with.
The JCW gets a bump in power to 208 hp with 184 lb-ft of torque that comes on at an early 1,850rpm and remains flat. While this 1.6-litre is well-suited for this vehicle, it does run out of thrust in the upper rpm range but such is the curse of small frame turbo cars. Make no mistake, if you keep it in the band, this MINI will offer all kinds of thrills but at the expense of practicality. The JCW Roadster was quick but the JCW Coupe was the only vehicle driven that we could put pressure on the lead car piloted by a pro driver.
- The 1.6-litre twin-scroll mill found in everything MINI, is amped up in the JCW and propels the roadster from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 6.6-seconds with a 237 km/h top speed. The crisp sound and backfires afforded by the 'Sport' button gets top marks in our opinion.
- The JCW suspension is well tuned for the track. With minimal understeer, we actually flicked the wheel occasionally to get the rear end to join the party. We pounded the apexes hard and the suspension soaks right it up and the light-by-modern-standards 1270 kg (2772-pound) MINI corners flat.
- Brakes in the JCW are very effective for extended laps with barely noticeable fade. Hit with blazing red paint, these calipers clamp down on 316 mm rotors up front with 280 mm rotors in the rear.
- The attractive 17x7-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in a 205/45R17 Dunlop SP Sport run flats. Tires have some decent grip for at least five laps but naturally we'd prefer lighter non-runflats on a 208 hp car.
- The electronic power steering is well-weighted and provides some decent feedback. We weren't affected by torque-steer and there are many electronic aids at work on the JCW roadster. Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Brake Assist, Hill Start Assistant, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) and Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC).
- Super easy to raise and lower the convertible top. And when up, the wind noise isn't distracting, plus both heat and audio stay within the cabin.
- Although our time on track with the JCW Roadster was a blast, we would make some bold changes. We'd definitely choose this open-top over the claustrophobic Coupe, but they really should be the one-in-the-same, a retractable hardtop model. Not sure this is a bargain at $39,900 and there are many cars that will outrun it in this territory.
- Excellent fuel economy when not boosting every where with 7.8 L/100km City and an impressive 5.6 L/100km Highway. On the track, it sipped back quite a bit of premium fuel needed by the 10:1 compression turbo mill.