Caught in the classifieds: 2013 Mini Hatch JCW
In previous renditions of our ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ segment, weíve featured both a Lotus Elise S and a Caterham Seven. Although brilliant little sports cars, neither the Lotus nor the Caterham have any practical amenities or usable features. Theyíre extremely compromised vehicles, great at doing one thing and one thing only. Being quite rare, theyíre much more difficult to own and maintain than something like a Ford Focus, which is a given.
So, for this weekís highlight, I wanted to find a car which bridges the gap between sports cars like the Lotus Elise and practical, boring economy cars like the Ford Focus. Although I looked at half a dozen viable candidates, in the end, it all boiled down to one car which offers the best of both worlds: the Mini Hatch John Cooper Works. This particular example is listed on our site for just £13,500 and it has less than 36,000 miles on the clock. Itís a mint condition Mini then, but I didnít choose it just because of its mileage. In fact, I chose it because itís probably the single greatest enthusiast car you can genuinely drive every day.
The road-going JCW is loosely based on the JCW Challenge car, so apart from significant drivetrain upgrades it doesnít differ too much from a normal Cooper S. That being said, it does have a slightly bulkier body with wider arches, a different bumper both front and rear, as well as JCW-bespoke wheels which render it immediately recognizable to any petrolhead.
The massive hood scoop is a dead giveaway that this isnít an ordinary hatch, as is the lower front splitter and the twin-exhaust central outlet in the back. If you look hard enough youíll spot the JCW badging on the front arches and the rear hatch too. This particular JCW is finished in a deep shade of racing green and is complimented with red accents in the form of a red roof and red rearview mirrors. Itís also got two black stripes running down the bonnet, paying homage to Miniís racing heritage.
Inside, the JCW isnít all that different from an ordinary Cooper S. You get more supportive seats and a few JCW emblems here and there, but for the most part, itís just a Cooper S wrapped in a JCW body inside. That being said, the quality of the cabin is super. The materials are premium and fit and finish are second-to-none. It not only looks great, but it feels great. I love the fact that they kept the central speedo even after all these years but you still get a rev counter behind the steering wheel so you donít have to look to your left.
A Mini Hatch is never going to be the most practical thing ever built, but donít be fooled by how compact it looks from the outside. Inside, the Mini has decent space for four full-sized adults and a small luggage compartment for a few bags or the weekly shopping. Getting in the back isnít difficult since the doors are relatively wide and the B-pillar is parallel to the front seats, and speaking of seats, I have to say how comfortable and plush the ones in the JCW are. Because the JCW rides quite harsh, which weíll get to in a bit, Mini made sure to make the seats both comfortable and supportive, so you never feel jiggled or thrown around on rough or bumpy roads.
Engine and Performance
As I said, itís a performance variant based on the JCW Challenge car, so itís a lot more potent than a standard Cooper S. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine had its boost turned up from 13 psi to 19 psi, and subsequently, the compression has been dropped down to 10.0:1. The end result is 208 horsepower and 193 lb-ft of torque. Under heavy acceleration, the engine can boost torque output to 206 lb-ft. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. The sprint to 60 mph takes 6.2 seconds and flat out itíll nudge 147 mph. Mighty impressive stuff for a Mini hatchback.
Raw figures donít tell half the story though, because the Miniís greatest strength lies in the way it drives. Mini also gave the JCW stiffer suspension, Brembo performance brakes, a tweaked exhaust system, brake ducts, and BMWís excellent dynamic stability control (DSC), as well as their Dynamic Traction control system (DCT) and Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC). Thatís all a fancy way of saying the JCW will absolutely demolish cars with three times its power on twisty A and B roads.
The front end is super immediate and responsive. Thereís absolutely no dead zone in the steering which super direct and precise. Like most electric racks it doesnít have the best feedback, but it feels alive and eager in your hands. People criticize front-wheel-drive cars for being too safe or boring, but theyíve obviously never driven a JCW before. You can genuinely choose your line and adjust it with the throttle and the brakes. If youíre being aggressive with it you can even get lift-off oversteer.
The engine loves to be revved out, but it has chunks of torque down low. I still maintain this is one of the easiest cars to drive quickly on a twisty, narrow section of tarmac. A rear-wheel-drive performance saloon wouldnít be able to keep up because the JCW has so much traction and it instills so much confidence in its driver, that itís remarkable how easy it is to find yourself in jail-time landing speeds.
Model: Mini Hatch
Trim: John Cooper Works (JCW)
Why you should buy one
The ride is harsh, perhaps a bit more than it needs to, and the JCW is still too small for a large family of four. If youíre looking for a practical car which also happens to be quite quick, is affordable and easy to run, look no further though. The JCW successfully bridges the gap between cars like the Lotus Elise and a normal Ford Focus, and I would argue itís the best of both worlds if you donít have enough money to own several cars for all your needs. Start your search for used Mini Hatch cars for sale right now at DesperateSeller.co.uk.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 9 out of 10