Named after old-school Mini’s tuning house, the 2022 John Cooper Works models take the standard Hardtop and convertible Coopers and crank up the heat. Both body styles house a 228-hp turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood, but only the Hardtop provides a manual gearbox. Convertible buyers will have to make do with an eight-speed automatic—a transmission that costs extra on the Hardtop. The JCW team also massaged the car’s suspension to enhance the Mini’s already agile chassis. These upgrades make for good fun on a twisty road or racetrack, but the ride may be too stiff for daily commuting. Rival sport compacts such as the Hyundai Veloster N and Volkswagen Golf GTI may handle and ride better than the JCW, but neither of those is offered as a convertible, nor do they have the same curb appeal.
What’s New for 2022?
The rowdiest Mini receives several styling upgrades for 2022, including a different grille, redesigned front and rear bumpers, and new wheel designs. Inside, a larger 8.8-inch infotainment system is now standard and features an updated interface. Lane-departure warning is also included in the equipment list, and a digital gauge display replaces the old analog unit.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Mini Cooper JCW is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 228 horsepower. The sole transmission for the convertible is an eight-speed automatic, whereas Hardtop buyers get a choice between that or a six-speed manual. In our track testing, a JCW convertible with the slushbox made the dash to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. But the Hyundai Veloster N did the same run in 5.4 seconds, and an automatic-equipped Volkswagen GTI managed it in 5.8 seconds. Relative to the standard Mini Cooper, the JCW brings features such as Brembo brakes, a more aggressive suspension, and an electronically locking front differential. All this combines to help it deliver precise handling that’s a treat for enthusiasts. However, this Mini’s firm suspension can make the ride unpleasantly choppy on rough roads.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The JCW’s fuel-economy estimates vary based on body style and transmission. The most fuel-efficient combo is the Hardtop with the eight-speed automatic. We haven’t tested a JCW model on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route yet, but during our time with a JCW Hardtop, we observed 25 mpg in mixed driving. For more information about the Cooper JCW’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The JCW’s cabin boasts high-quality materials plus whimsical design elements like the circular framing that houses the infotainment system’s touchscreen. Relative to other subcompacts, the Mini doesn’t rank highly when it comes to utility. Back-seat legroom is tight; most adults will feel cramped. In the Hardtop, this Mini provides nine cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats and 34 cubic feet with them folded. (The convertible is even worse, offering just six cubes of trunk space.) For reference, the Chevy Sonic hatchback competes in this class and provides 19 cubic feet with all seats in place and 48 cubic feet with the rears folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Mini JCWs come with an 8.8-inch infotainment display with SiriusXM satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, and Bluetooth phone and streaming audio. The list of optional equipment includes a premium Harman/Kardon sound system, in-dash navigation, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, and wireless charging for your devices. Unfortunately, Android Auto capability isn’t available.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The JCW comes with driver-assistance features that can help you avoid accidents. However, blind-spot monitoring isn’t included in the lineup. For more information about the JCW’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control