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Mini John Cooper Works in the super test

Rossen Gargolov
Mini John Cooper Works in the super test
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E s is this recurring question on birthdays or Weddings, which are often held as soon as the other person learns something about my job: 'Which car can you recommend me?' Most of the time you have known the person you are talking to for what feels like tenths of a second, you don't know anything about their taste, their bank account, the intended use of the recommended car, and now you should simply recommend 'the perfect car' to them between snacks at the buffet. Sometimes this can end in annoying discussions. In short: the perfect car simply doesn't exist. There is only one thing I know for sure today, dear friends of the Mini brand - I cannot recommend the Mini John Cooper Works of the current F56 series to sports drivers.

You couldn't really believe your eyes at the first contact. And that should be the new JCW? A full 16 centimeters longer, 4.4 centimeters wider and a wheelbase 2.8 centimeters longer - this Mini is everything else, just not 'mini' and not 'MINI' either. Visually, he tries to continue the design language of his predecessor, which unfortunately only succeeds half-heartedly. Yes, how? At that moment you almost feel sorry for the designers, because it was certainly not their idea to turn the petite New Mini into such a grown-up one. In addition to stricter pedestrian impact regulations, there are also economic reasons. Identical parts and platform strategies are also finding their way into Mini. The Mini will soon be sharing its architecture with future BMW 1-series models.

For the undoubtedly profitable measure, you risk your identity with Mini, which once made the reinterpretation of the original Mini so popular. And this loss of identity continues in the new cockpit. Oh, that was wonderful in the previous model with the internal designation R56. You could almost press your nose against the windshield from the driver's seat while your feet danced over the pedals at the level of the front axle. All gone, they robbed the Mini John Cooper Works of that homely, cheeky and iconic mini-small car feeling.

New Mini is more like a new Beetle

Not only the seating position has been moved backwards relocated, the dashboard also grew in length. And so the mini-cockpit with its now far away window and the massive dashboard is reminiscent of the one-time new edition of a cult model that never achieved such a cult status as thisNew mini. Guess? Right, to the VW New Beetle, which was once based on the platform of the Golf IV.

Under the JCW bonnet, the keyword is not downsizing, but upsizing: instead of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo with 211 hp there is now a two-liter four-cylinder turbo with officially 231 hp. Fears that the already pronounced top-heaviness of the Mini John Cooper Works would shift even further forward due to the heavier unit are confirmed - even if only slightly. In the previous model, the weight distribution determined in the 4/2009 Supertest was 63.1 to 36.9 percent. Currently it is 64.1 to 35.9 percent.

Mini John Cooper Works has become significantly heavier

While we're on the subject of weight, now comes the first heavy blow to driving dynamics -Fans: At 1,294 kilos, the current super test car weighs an unbelievable 114 kilos more than its predecessor from 2009. That must not be true and shows once again that vehicle development is not a request, but a joint product of many parties. No chassis or tire developer would voluntarily tick the box behind such a drastic increase in weight - the chassis engineers at Mini were certainly reluctant to do so.

In addition to the larger dimensions and the larger engine, the new automatic transmission also has the weight of the Mini John Cooper Works driven up. In contrast to its predecessor, which started with a crisp six-speed manual gearbox, power is now optionally transmitted using a six-speed automatic transmission called the 'Steptronic Sport Transmission'. After all: A manual six-speed gearbox is still available as standard.

Compared to the manual six-speed gearbox (I. 3.923, II. 2.136, III. 1.276, IV. 0.921, V. 0.756, VI. 0.628, final drive ratio 3.824 ) the automatic version (I. 4.459, II. 2.508, III. 1.555, IV. 1.142, V. 0.851, VI. 0.672, axle ratio 3.502) has shorter gear ratios. The optional automatic should accelerate the hot Mini John Cooper Works in 6.1 seconds and thus two tenths of a second faster to 100 km /h than the manual switch.

The current Mini John Cooper Works remains a good deal of its factory specification away. Our measuring device holds for 6.5 seconds. Its Supertest predecessor with a crisp six-speed manual gearbox (I. 3.308, II. 2.130, III. 1.483, IV. 1.139, V. 0.949, VI. 0.816, axle ratio 3.650) was at the time when it accelerated to 100 km /h in 6, 6 seconds hardly slower.

In the elasticity comparison worse than its predecessor

That the R56 test car from 2009 with its A comparison of the elasticity values ​​determined by us shows that it was a real fine specimen nominally 211 HP. The new Mini John Cooper Works cannot use the capacity it has gained. In fourth gear, the values ​​from 2009 and 2015 are almost identical, in gears fiveand six, the current model consistently achieves significantly worse elasticity results than its predecessor. For fans of numbers, here is the direct elasticity comparison: R56 from 2009 in fifth gear: 80 km /h to 100/120/140/160 km /h in 2.9 s /6.2 s /9.7 s /13.7 s; the current F56 in fifth gear: 80 km /h to 100/120/140/160 km /h in 3.6 s /7.4 s /11.5 s /16.0 s.

Aside from the figures, the new direct injection works subjectively well and responds spontaneously, especially in the lower engine speed range. From 5,500 rpm, however, his speed yaw subsides somewhat. Acoustically, the JCW voice sounds even nastier than that of its predecessor thanks to a new sports exhaust system, even if the interspersed throat clearing and exhaust pounding appear artificially animated.

Mini John Cooper Works also failed the brake test

Hook behind the acceleration, now it is braked. With immediate effect, the Mini John Cooper Works decelerates with a new Brembo brake system that has larger brake discs on the front axle compared to the previous model (330 instead of the previous 316 mm). With the braking values ​​determined, however, you have to ask yourself whether the brake development has stopped in the last six years. 'Stand still' is an understatement. 'Walked backwards' is more likely. At 36.6 meters, the current model decelerates from 100 km /h less than its predecessor (100–0 km /h warm: 35.5 m). From 200 km /h, the 2009 Mini John Cooper Works stopped 8.2 meters earlier than the 2015 vintage. Sorry Mini - sit down, six! When braking from 200 km /h, the mini rear also prances, and steering corrections are necessary to keep the JCW on track.

Off to Hockenheim, the first super test lap time is on the program. Imagine if you had to invite a passenger in your R56 Mini John Cooper Works from 2009 when you visit the race track, not an ordinary, but the two-meter giant Wladimir Klitschko with a fighting weight of 112 kilos. You can now roughly imagine the load being imposed on the current model. Well, that can be cheerful.

Much too soft chassis

Nothing is left of the sporty chassis set-up that the R56 once carried thanks to the 'Chili Package'. While the Mini John Cooper Works bounces pleasantly and comfortably in everyday life, it now lacks the cheek and lightness on the racetrack that once made it so amiable. Here the novice leaps around the corner thanks to the softer suspension setup with noticeably more body movements. After all, the self-steering behavior was still halfway lively and the rear dances briskly with braking and load changes.

Those who use the rear swings can largely prevent front-wheel drive-typical pushing over the front axle, and the Mini steers precisely. A slight tendency to understeer is only noticeable under load.

Even if theThe new Mini John Cooper Works does not have a mechanical lock, but still has an electronically simulated locking function on board, the traction when accelerating out is good. When the so-called 'Sport Mode' is activated, not only is the gas pedal characteristic more snappy, but the steering forces of the electromechanical power steering are also tighter. Small steering angles are enough to move the JCW to change direction - at least a robust steering was retained in times of comfort madness.

Speaking of comfort: the automatic transmission subjectively robs the Mini of another part of its sporty, cheeky character, it works but with the spontaneous reactions of the paddles on the steering wheel it is also good at the limit.

Ultimately, however, the current Mini John Cooper Works can mainly thank its engine for being able to complete the short course with a lap time of 1.18.2 min three tenths faster than the previous model. The good grip level of the Pirelli P-Zero tires can only defend itself against the high mini weight for a quick lap. The lap times decrease significantly from the second fast run.

Loss of motorsport genes

Human Mini , How could you just? On the two-hour drive from Hockenheim to the supertest supreme discipline on the Nordschleife, there is time to briefly recapitulate when the brand took the wrong turn from a sporting point of view. At the end of 2011, after a period of eight years, the automobile manufacturer ended, for example, its one-make cup engagement with the clubsport racing series 'Mini Challenge'.

I wistfully think back to my wild Challenge guest duels during the current JCW Trots in the ecologically valuable 'Green Mode' in the direction of the Nordschleife.

The 'Mini Challenge' hit the brand value at the time perfectly - hearty racing action paired with a well-dosed pinch of lifestyle. 'The brand's motorsport genes will continue to find their way onto the road in the production vehicles,' Mini promised - and kept its word in 2012: the Mini John Cooper Works GP was released at that time.

Limited to 2,000 copies Special model with a stiff sports suspension including an increased negative camber, 1,160 kilos, 218 hp and grippy Kumho sports tires in size 215/40 R 17 was the last real Mini John Cooper Works for us. Back then it wasn't enough for a super test, but it was enough for a small car lap best time in Hockenheim: 1.16.3 minutes, any questions? Even then, the paradigm shift at Mini was becoming apparent, and it is thanks to the initiative of a few developers that the GP found its way into series production at all.

What would I do now between Hatzenbach, Fuchsröhre and Hoher Acht? give the tire set of the GP on the Nordschleife! At the time, Mini gave a Nordschleife time of 8.23 ​​minutes for the special GP model - a very realistic lap timelooking at the 8.35 minutes that our JCW base model needed in the 2009 Supertest.

Not faster than its predecessor R56

It remains to be seen why the current Mini, despite its larger size, only uses 205 tires and not 215 tires. The fact is: it could do with wider tires to better support itself on the mountain and valley railway in the Eifel. The camber values ​​are also moderate and show that suitability for everyday use has priority over use on the racetrack.

On the undulating topography of the Nordschleife, the much too soft chassis is even more evident than on the flat circuit at Hockenheim. Especially in the sections from Hoher Acht, via Wippermann to Brünnchen, the current JCW pumps and sways like a battered boxer. In contrast to the evasive test and the slalom, in which the mini rear end tries to wedge out some nasty load change reactions, the Mini John Cooper Works remains easy to control on the racetrack - as long as it is driven under tension.

Nevertheless, of course the soft chassis and the gross extra weight poison the cornering speeds, which are almost without exception below those of the previous model. No wonder that the F56 does not drive through the Nordschleife faster than the R56 in 8.35 minutes. Seldom has a super test candidate left the super tester so disappointed.

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