MINI John Cooper Works cars have always been exciting, hardcore and hilarious good fun. They’re hot hatches for folks who value fun and excitement over things like comfort and luxury. Typically, a John Cooper Works MINI has suspension stiff enough to jar tooth-fillings loose and an exhaust note to wake neighbors. However, MINI has just created a new version of the John Cooper Works specifically for enthusiasts fond of the race track — the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge.
To make the MINI JCW Challenge even more hardcore and more track-oriented than the standard JCW, MINI added Nitron Dampers, a Quaife front differential and a manually-adjustable ride height. This allows the JCW Challenge to simply attack corners with ridiculous grip and speed for a front-wheel drive hatchback. The people behind this car actually raced MINIs, so they know exactly what’s important for track use and what isn’t. So this new MINI JCW Challenge is a proper track-munching monster.
While it doesn’t actually get any more powerful, as the 2.0 liter turbocharged 228 hp engine remains unchanged, the Challenge is much faster around a circuit thanks to its far superior handling dynamics. The Challenge isn’t designed for straight line speed, but for being the most fun, exciting and track-ready car in its class. And it’s not ready to compromise any of the track-handling prowess for comfort, luxury or even any options really.
Only being sold in the UK, the JCW Challenge will cost £32,000 and will come only with Silver paint, cloth seats, no sat-nav and a manual transmission. Clearly, fun is valued over comfort.
According to Alex Goy, of CNET’s Roadshow, the MINI JCW Challenge nailed its target objective. Only being able to sample the Challenge for four laps around Goodwood, Goy was able still able to get a feel for the new JCW Challenge and could tell that it’s a proper track toy. The steering is heavy and the ride is stiff. Its exhaust barks with ferocity and is far to loud for residential areas at night.
No one would call the standard MINI JCW sloppy, as it’s a pretty tight and nimble car, even on track. But in comparison with the JCW Challenge, Goy says the standard car feels soft and and jittery at high speed. In the Challenge, there’s no body roll and it’s far more composed through corners.
While four laps of Goodwood isn’t enough to get a proper feel for the car, it’s enough to know that’s in a genuine upgrade over the standard MINI JCW for track use. While it might not be a good car to drive everyday on the street, thanks to its rock hard suspension and ultra loud exhaust, the MINI JCW Challenge certainly tough to beat if you’re planning on tracking it.[Source: CNET Roadshow]