Enter JCW – John Cooper Works.
MINI has confirmed that it is developing a fully electric JCW, bringing the iconic name to the EV world for the first time. And we reckon it's an ambitious, yet natural progression for the MINI Electric we know and love. When we tested the MINI Electric we said: “...there is no other electric car at this price point that handles so well. Put simply, it's a great drive”.
In a straight line, the MINI Electric feels as fast as the petrol-powered Cooper S thanks to its linear and instant power delivery. This is despite the fact that it actually takes half a second longer to get to 62mph. You just wouldn't know it, especially as you're never caught out by being in the wrong gear.
MINI reckons it can give the Electric the JCW treatment and enhance the essence of the MINI Electric, and the legendary JCW performance: “With the MINI Electric, we’ve shown how well brand-typical driving enjoyment and electric mobility can be combined,” says Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI brand. “Now it’s time to translate the passion for performance of the John Cooper Works brand to electromobility. That’s why we’re working to develop concepts for electric John Cooper Works’ models.”
Obviously inspired by the current petrol-powered MINI John Cooper Works GP, and quite possibly codenamed the GPE, we'd reckon that MINI will need to do two major things to make a JCW Electric work. Firstly, up the power from the current 184bhp. The petrol version's 302bhp wouldn't really be required – in a FWD EV this would probably leave the wheels scrabbling for traction, but we think 250bhp would be plenty.
Secondly, with more power comes a greater hunger for electricity, so we'd expect that MINI would need to up the overall battery size (while being mindful not to increase weight). At 32.5kWh, the MINI Electric's battery would simply be too small, likely offering 100 miles of range on a good day in something with more poke, and more reason to use that poke. We reckon that a battery with at least 10kWh more would be sufficient if MINI wants to maintain what current MINI Electric does so well – which is delivering lots of fun over shorter distances.
Whatever modifications the JCW Electric ends up with, we're in no doubt they'll get it right. MINI rarely gets it wrong.
For the few who may not know, John Cooper gave his name to the original performance Minis – the iconic Mini Cooper. It's a name that lives in infamy, not least because a Mini Cooper S, at the hands of Paddy Hopkirk, won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964 against all odds, beating bigger, more powerful cars.
Since Mini was bought by BMW and re-launched in 2001 (at which point the brand name turned to all-caps), MINI Coopers and Cooper Ss have been mainstays of the line-up, offering performance options for what has always been a capable chassis. The first 'new' JCW was launched as an option in 2006 and has been followed by new versions as the second and now third generation MINIs have hit the market.
The current JCW GP has 302bhp from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, an eight-speed gearbox and a top speed of 165mph. It's lightyears from the original Coopers, but maintains the original car's giant-slaying capabilities wrapped in a small package.