YOU HAVE TO hand it to BMW; the Bavarian giant really knows its target market when it comes to the Mini. And it plays hardball to get those sales, offering multiple modernised versions of the traditionally British hatch. Compared to that other retro remake, the now departed Volkswagen Beetle, it’s hard to argue that the new Mini hasn’t been a plus-sized success.
It’s BMW’s thorough knowledge of its USP that makes the Mini popular. And it doesn’t just subtly lean on nostalgia, it whacks you in the face with it. Even after 20 years and in its third generation, the throwbacks are hard to escape. Its cutesy face has received a nip and tuck to look more aggressive while the Union Jack is proudly displayed within the tail-lights, just in case anyone forgot the old country.
Proof that there was a Mini niche uncatered for is the inclusion of this variant, the Cooper S JCW Sport. Essentially, it looks like a full-fat JCW with 170kW and 320Nm, but runs on the skim milk of a Cooper S with 141kW and 280Nm from its BMW-sourced B48 engine. Except for some red accents, it’s hard to tell the two apart. And that’s the point. It gains the JCW aero package, including a chin spoiler, side skirts, oversized rear diffuser with central exhaust and a rear wing. It even runs the same 17-inch alloys and optional stripes.
It’s available as a three-door and five-door, with the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder powering the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. However, all this extrovert sportiness comes at a price. And for its $53,200 three door sticker you could buy a sorted hot hatch from another brand, or even the JCW itself. However, Mini has always played in a boutique class of its own where what’s underneath the clamshell bonnet, usually, plays second fiddle to the statement it projects.
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