The first thing you'll notice is that it's loud. Unlike conventional sports exhausts, the Pro Tuning kit JCW system comes equipped with a Bluetooth remote that allows the driver to open and close the exhaust valves on the move. With them closed, the volume is similar to that of a standard Cooper S, but with them open, the noise is more reminiscent of a Jaguar F-Type.
Unsurprisingly, flap-open mode is reserved for track use, but even with the exhaust in standard mode it’s still a wonderfully characterful system, popping, cracking and gurgling off the throttle. Combined with a rather antisocial blow off value, the 210 feels rather extreme, even when you’re just cruising around town.
However, once you're out onto country roads it quickly becomes apparent that despite the added noise, the 210 feels just as refined as the standard Cooper S - it's good enough for us to agree with Mini that the 210 really is the range sweet spot. The added power endows it with rapid real-world pace, but it’s not enough to overwhelm the front tyres. No official 0-62mph times are quoted by Mini, but we’d estimate it's somewhere around 6.4-6.5sec.
Aside from the variable dampers, the chassis is standard Cooper S, which is no bad thing. We’ve always been impressed with the regular car’s dynamics and the same is true here. Body control is tight, there’s decent front-end bite and there’s enough throttle response to adjust the car’s line mid-corner. Feel from the middle pedal is also excellent, even if the 210’s rear end can get a little squirmy under hard braking.
Switching from Normal to Sport mode increases throttle response and damper stiffness, but there’s little noticeable difference in cornering ability. You also have to contend with overly heavy steering, which masks front-end feel rather than clarifies it. As a result, we found it was better to leave the car in Normal mode for day-to-day driving.
Interior wise, unlike the limited-run £30,000 210 Challenge Edition that we tested a couple of years back, Mini has opted to keep the Works 210's trim level fairly basic – a choice we’re glad about. This way, the entry-level price remains reasonable, but buyers who want optional extras can upgrade to the trim level they desire.