Although they made their official world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show earlier in March, the MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop and MINI John Cooper Works Clubman took their U.S. bows on Thursday, March 20th at the New York International Auto Show. The two new performance-oriented trims, which will be available this summer, feature upgraded powerplants as well as suspensions, exhaust systems, manual transmissions, electrically power-assisted steering, and high-performance brakes developed by British-based John Cooper Works and inspired by the shop’s fifty-year racing history.
In the 1940s, John Cooper, who was trained as a toolmaker, teamed up with his father Charles to create the Cooper 500 Formula 3 race car and form the Cooper Car Company. As a result of his success on the racing circuit, Cooper was tapped to create race-oriented versions of the British-made Mini, starting in the early 1960s. Mini Coopers, as they were dubbed back then, proved popular for decades. Today, the relationship continues, as John Cooper Works, now under the direction of John’s son Mike Cooper, has recently merged with MINI and will create high-performance versions of the popular sub-compact car. The two new MINIs just announced are the first to appear under this relationship.
The John Cooper Works Hardtop and Clubman both pack a 208-horsepower, 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine under their hoods. The engine can drive the Hardtop from 0 to 60 in just 6.2 seconds, while the larger, cargo-oriented Clubman takes 6.5 seconds to reach 60 mph. Both trims top out at 147 mph.
The engine in both trims links to a specially modified six-speed manual transmission, and both the John Cooper Works Hardtop and Clubman ride on a sport-tuned suspension and exclusive 17-inch light alloy rims with high-performance tires. In addition, both come equipped with a Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system that incorporates Dynamic Traction Control, the first for a MINI. When the driver deactivates the DSC system, Electronic Differential Lock Control kicks in, providing enhanced stability and cornering ability during aggressive driving. This latter feature is exclusive to the John Cooper Works trims.
Both trims will be created at the factory rather than at the dealer using kits. Of course, the enhancements will boost pricing for both trims by a few thousand dollars, when compared to the standard trims on which they’re based.