Cooper's works ethic

In the 18 months since the original John Cooper Works kit went on sale, more than 6000 Minis have had their performance boosted by the world’s most famous Mini tuner. 

We ran a Cooper S Works as a long-term test car and it divided opinions; some adored it and yet others didn’t feel it was fast enough for the money.

I’ll freely admit I was in the latter camp, but the manner in which this new Works car howled down a leafy Sussex B-road near Cooper’s garage has changed all of that.

On top of the original Works package there’s a new air filter with an extra intake flap that opens above 4500rpm, injectors that allow more fuel to flow and an ECU tweak that all add up to an extra 10bhp, resulting in 210bhp at 6950rpm.

The key is not only the extra willingness to rev and better throttle response, but the matching of the extra performance with the revised Mini’s gear ratios. It still needs working to extract its full potential, but you no longer suffer a trudge around the rev counter waiting for the power to arrive.

It’s now a gloriously frantic affair, goading you into driving in classic all-out Mini style. A louder exhaust complements the increased induction noise, although the supercharger scream dominates.A range of John Cooper accessories is on the cards, including suspension, brakes (much needed), seats and trim.

Our car had the upgraded suspension that banishes body roll and works well on smooth surfaces, if less so on rough roads. It also exaggerates the problems of deploying 210bhp through the front wheels, so expect a limited-slip diff to appear soon. The seats, by the way, are brilliant.

At £2999, plus 10 hours labour, on top of the £15,180 price of a Cooper S, the Works kit is far more expensive than the offerings of independent tuning houses. But it has the warranty, the name, and this time the performance to really justify itself.

Adam Towler

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