Mini Coupé John Cooper Works
Thursday 17 November 2011
Price: from £23,795 (Mini Coupé range starts at £16,640
Engine capacity: 1.6 litres (211 PS)
Top speed (mph): 149
0-62 mph (seconds): 6.4
Fuel economy (mpg): 39.8
BMW's reinvented Mini has been a raging success since it was introduced in 2001. The standard hatchback has been joined over the years by the Clubman estate, a convertible, and, more recently, the Countryman, a larger four-door crossover with optional all-wheel drive. Now, a fifth car, the Coupé, joins the line-up, and it seems likely to be as popular as the others.
Most modern Minis seek their inspiration from the 1959 original or its variants. Just consider the big central speedometer, a trademark of Minis old and new, or the side-hinged double rear doors on the Clubman, which echo those of the original Mini Traveller estate. But as the range has expanded, BMW has begun to try its own variations. There was no precedent for the Countryman in the pre-2001 Mini line-up, although it now accounts for about a quarter of all Mini sales.
There was no Coupé in the old Mini range either, although the new car's "notchback" tail recalls the Riley Elf and Wolseley Kestrel versions of the old Mini and it has a forerunner of sorts in the Mini Marcos, an independently produced kit car that used Mini mechanical parts in a coupé body.
As the custodian of the brand since 2001, BMW has written a fair bit of Mini history itself, and the new Coupé also shares certain characteristics with the Mini John Cooper Works GP, produced in 2006 and the sportiest of all modern Minis. Like the GP, the Coupé has no rear seat and aims to provide an intense driving experience, an aim in which it succeeds magnificently, and it this above all that makes the Coupé a terrific car.
It's not perfect, of course. The squashed "helmet-style" roof looks distinctly odd, but my guess is that most people will end up liking it. Although the low roof-line doesn't seem to affect headroom too much it certainly restricts visibility.
That's especially true at the back where the view through the tiny letterbox window is obstructed by the rear spoiler that rises from its resting place in the boot-lid at speeds of more than 50mph. I suspect that Coupé owners are going to have a rear window full of spoiler most of the time because it's an eager machine. The John Cooper Works version has 211 horsepower, which means it has real bite, even at speeds well beyond 100mph on German autobahns.
My only reservation is that while it's a great car when you're in the mood to press on, it might be a bit wearing when you feel like driving in a more relaxed fashion.
The good news doesn't stop with the launch of the Coupé. BMW will shortly introduce the Mini Roadster, which shares much of its design with the Coupé, and the Paceman, a three-door car that's based on the Countryman's platform but looks a lot better. There's even a chance that the wonderful Rocketman, a concept car not much bigger than the 1959 Mini, might make it into production. I'm not keen on the Countryman but a strike rate of seven out of eight is just about as good as it gets.
The competition: The Ford Puma and Vauxhall Tigra are long gone, so the Mini Coupé competes mainly with the larger Audi TT and Peugeot RCZ.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
Overly-controlling parents cause their children lifelong psychological damage, says study
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Star Wars BB-8 droid toy is real, should be impossible
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...
£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...
£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...