2021 Mini JCW review, test drive

Hormazd Sorabjee

2021 Mini JCW: What is it?

As part of the mid-life cycle update, Mini has made some adjustments and adjustments to its iconic hatchback and convertible models to keep it as fresh as possible. The revised 2021 lineup includes mini 3-door, convertible and JCW variants, all of which were launched in one go last month.

2021 Mini JCW: What’s new outside?

The external changes are very small and it is difficult to find the difference, especially if you don’t have the previous Mini as a reference. The styling update is subtle, centering on the revised nose, so that the wider grille extends down to the bottom of the front bumper, which is new along with the rear bumper. JCW models are more sporty than ordinary Mini models, with more prominent vents on the bumper, and all-black mesh-finish grille. The fog lamp housing in the bumper has been replaced by a slender vertical air intake, the appearance is more sporty, and the side indicators are now LED units. The iconic Union Jack taillights have not changed, but the rear bumper is new and includes fog lights.

JCW has a wider grille, more prominent vents and black decorations.

The wheel arches have been redesigned to use a newly designed and larger 17-inch alloy. You can reach 18 inches on JCW, but it is best to stick to the standard 17 inches on Indian roads. There are a series of new colors, and the roof offers three-tone options.

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Although these 18-inch wheels are available as options, you’d better stick to standard 17-inch wheels.

2021 Mini JCW: What’s new in it?

The cabin is similar to the model before the refurbishment, but with new interior colors and more equipment. A notable change is the larger 8.8-inch infotainment touch screen (previously only operated by the iDrive controller) and (optional) 5.0-inch digital instrument display. The refreshed Mini JCW is equipped with a lot of standard equipment, including LED headlights, rear view camera with parking sensor, ambient lighting, traction and stability control. Harman Kardon Hi-Fi audio system, sports seats and steering wheel, these are options for ordinary hatches and convertibles, and are standard equipment of JCW.

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JCW has a stylish cabin that complements its quirky appearance.

Our test Mini JCW has complete specifications, equipped with panoramic sunroof, front parking sensor, hands-free parking and wireless phone charging options. Matching the stylish appearance is an equally stylish cabin, which is not particularly spacious. But after all, this is a mini car. Although the cabin is small, it is not uncomfortable (if you are not sitting in the back), the seats are surprisingly spacious, and even tall people can find a very comfortable position. There is not much space to store your things except for a door pocket of moderate size. The glove box is small, and the small room on the center console and armrests is also small. In fact, a large smartphone like my iPhone 12 Pro is not even suitable for the new wireless chargers of the 2021 model series. Of course, the trunk is small, but this is not a car you will travel around with a lot of luggage.

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The panoramic sunroof is available as an optional configuration.

However, Mini is not small in terms of luxury goods. The cabin quality can be comparable to the largest luxury cars, and the overall feel-good factor brought about by the blend of high-grade plastics and finishes, wonderfully damped air-conditioning and sturdy, thick switchgear are still important parts of the car’s charm. The dashboard design has not changed, but it is still refreshing in a car with a series of high-quality physical switches and buttons, not just the icons on the screen. We just like the big red toggle switch for the starter, which can start the hoarse-voicing 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

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The red toggle switch of the starter switch is a nice touch.

2021 Mini JCW: How does it feel to drive?

We chose the most popular model of this 3-door hatchback, Mini JCW, to see what new excitement it offers. JCW (for John Cooper Works) is to Mini what AMG is to Mercedes, which is essentially an internal adjustment department that produces high-performance derivatives of various models in the Mini product portfolio.

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The 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine can produce 231 horsepower and 320 Nm.

The Mini series is powered by BMW’s 1,998cc B48 engine, which can generate 192 horsepower in the 3-door hatch and convertible, while the JCW can significantly increase it to 231 horsepower. In absolute numbers, this may not look like a lot of horses, but in this small car weighing only 1,275 kg, it is enough to accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 6.1 seconds. But JCW feels faster than it actually is. The engine reacts responsively at low speeds. In fact, its reaction is a bit too sensitive for city driving. Even if the accelerator pedal is slightly depressed, it will lean forward and require careful adjustment of the right leg in traffic jams. In addition, the 8-speed automatic transmission does not like traffic and will shake a bit at low speeds, but it has no turbo lag, strong low-end torque, fast shift transmission and fast engine speed, plus compact size and super agility The maneuverability makes JCW a weapon in traffic.

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In terms of handling, JCW is precise and extremely agile.

This is a car like no other. It is instant responsive and has lightning-like responsiveness, but at the same time requires a lot of attention and will not let you relax. To be honest, the roads of Mumbai are not the best playground for this hyperactive baby. You have to pay attention to potholes, which can easily squeeze the thin rubber band 205/40 R18 tires. The 2021 Mini series can be equipped with adaptive dampers, but our test JCW did not. The suspension is too stiff and the travel is very small, so on a rough bit, it will wobble and hit sharp ruts.

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The standard suspension is too stiff and the travel is very small.

The truth is that there are few roads where you can really enjoy Mini JCW in India. The ideal habitat for JCW with a perfectly balanced chassis is a flat, winding (and open) road. Although all torque (of which 320Nm) is delivered through the front wheels, there is almost no understeer. In fact, lifting from the middle corner can neatly tighten your lines, allowing you to rotate from vertex to vertex with the technique of a ballerina. JCW’s driving style has a certain degree of precision, which you will not find in any other popular hatch, and this pleasant handling is an important part of its appeal.

2021 Mini JCW: Should you buy one?

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The price is 4.55 lakh rupees (ex-showroom, India), and you need a certain commitment to buy things like JCW. As a daily hatchback, it’s a bit too exciting. This is a car the owner needs to take care of, not the other way around. But it’s hard not to be attracted by the charm of JCW. There is nothing more vigorous or attractive than money. If you can find the way, you will cherish its value.

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