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The refreshed MINI JCW is a hot hatch that's now easier to live with on a daily basis.

11 Nov 2021


The thing about car models going through a facelift can be a tad tricky. You either get subtle changes on the sheet metal or just some tweaks on the engine front. Nothing more. Then when you go ahead and try the car, it essentially feels the same as its predecessor, which sort of makes it a moot point.

I mean, a few extra horses here and a bump in torque figures there really do not make much of a difference in real-life driving, unless you're the sort of driver who enjoys boasting to your friends just how much more output your car has.

It's more with the MINI JCW

Rear of the MINI JCW looks sporty and neat
Thankfully, the MINI JCW that you see here in dark sporty green is more than just your average facelift. Yes, design amendments are subtle and it definitely requires more than just a keen eye to spot them. And if you manag to, you'll be glad to know that the broader black mesh grille, more prominent vents and slim air intakes all do well to ensure that the car continues its sporty guise.

But my favourite has got to be the back, where you get refreshed rear bumper, central tailpipes and a lovely red spoiler that goes darn well with the dark shade of green on our test car.

Changes aren't too obvious on the inside as well. You get a new steering wheel with new buttons on it, a cleaner and crisper infotainment system, and a new digital display in place of instrument dials. Our test car also aptly came with niceties like a panoramic sunroof, as well wireless charging for your smartphone.

Cabin is a funky and functional place to be in
Whatever the case, I wasn't too keen on these changes, not because JCWs are known to be driver-focused hot hatches, which means it's all about the driving that's important (it is, obviously, but I still need to review the car fairly), but because I was intrigued with the high-quality physical buttons and knobs inside the MINI.

Intrigued is a big word to use, especially on a car like a MINI but in a time where so many carmakers are inserting mere icons on a screen, the myriad of switchgear is a refreshing and no less charming detail to have and enjoy, especially the large red toggle switch, which fires up the 2.0-litre powerplant.

OMG, just drive the JCW already!

2.0-litre powerplant remains the same as before
Speaking of which, this 2.0-litre unit remains unchanged, which means it's still good for 228bhp and 320Nm of torque. It may not seem like much, with cars like the Hyundai i30 N Performance Pack, Renault Megane RS and Volkswagen Golf GTI capable of much more, but because the JCW is much lighter than these cars, the MINI feels brutally fast.

It manages to scamper responsively from nought to hundred in a respectable 6.1 seconds, with every tap of the right pedal causing the car to lurch forward readily and enthusiastically, accompanied by a burbling exhaust soundtrack that reminds you just how hyperactive this hot hatch can actually be.

In reality, it's more than just about how quick the MINI JCW is. This refreshed version has somehow matured and grown up, displaying a sort of refinement that was never present in previous iterations of JCW models.

Century sprint is completed in just 6.1 seconds
Yes, you still get lighting-quick reactions from the lively and juicy steering and you still experience a firm suspension as the car trips over bumps and ruts but it isn't as harsh and clumsy as before. Even with all the power sent to the front wheels via the smooth eight-speed autobox transmission causing torque steer from time to time, there's never once when you feel like you're losing control.

In fact, there's more fun to be had with the JCW now. It behaves like a tiny ballerina dancing from corner to corner in a rather tidy and confident manner without any hint of lag and understeer.

Hold me closer tiny dancer

Physical buttons are a breath of fresh air
Hence, there's ample fun to be had, this MINI JCW - more so if you're the sort of driver who enjoys driving more than the usual functionalities of a car. However, the bigger set back here isn't so much about the car having an inconvenient three-door body, but more of its asking price of $232,888 (as of 4 November 2021).

It's a lot of money, if you ask me, even if the hot hatch is now easier to live with on a daily basis as compared to before. But hey, at least you know the car now feels a whole lot different from its predecessor, which makes this facelift quite a useful exercise.

Car Information

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Price

: $229,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1998cc

Horsepower

:

170kW (228 bhp) / 6200 rpm

Torque

:

320 Nm / 4800 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) Steptronic Sport

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.1sec

Top Speed

:

246km/h

Fuel consumption

:

15.6km/L

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