My new MINI back in 2013, pre-JCW


The day after installing the JCW Tuning Kit in 2017


JCW Tuning kit under the bonnet


Beautiful new JCW exhaust tips


After the JCW carbon fiber bonnet scoop


An old rivalry: Porsche wins, but not by much


JCW MINI in the 2015 Sebring Race


Frickin' fast!


A 1967 Morris MINI that mine is probably based on


Clare's MINI today

 

Clare without an i

"I've driven street cars that are also race cars: Ferraris, Cadillacs, even the beloved Mazda Miata MX-5. While all were thrilling, I can't say that any were out-and-out terrifying. The MINI John Cooper Works is a scary little car that I can't get out of my head. True, there are much faster sports cars out there, cars that can saw the MINI's acceleration in half. But in the JCW you just feel every single one of the those six seconds fly by in a joyous flashback of your life, as you balance on a sword's edge of raw terror. A sword's edge that's been heated in a small yet quite angry blast furnace." -Matthew DeBord, Business Insider

My JCW MINI Cooper

I own a 2013 MINI Cooper S R56. It was upgraded to John Cooper Works (JCW) status in 2017 when I had my local dealer install the JCW Tuning Kit. According to Motoring File (copied here and shortened for brevity because the original article is slowly fading away):

The JCW Tuning Kit for the R56 is extraordinarily straight forward. In the US, it consists of a more aggressive air intake, a free flowing exhaust, a turbocharger air filter air guide, and an ECU upgrade. This is quite a contrast to the previous kit available for the R52 and R53 that included such items as a new head and intercooler and a pretty big price tag at $6,000 dealer installed. Is the new kit worth the lower $2,000 price tag, especially with so many aftermarket tuning options for the R56?

The JCW kit increases the horsepower of the 2007 Mini Cooper S from 175bhp to 192bhp with a few more hp for 2011-2013 models. It also increases torque to as much as 200lb-ft with the overboost function in the 2011-2013 models. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the JCW GP had. Also better than the GP, and all previous JCW kits, is the throttle response. The ECU tuning sharpens the already faster throttle tip-in, with sport button on, of course, to even higher levels. While you feel the extra power throughout the band, the high-end is where it really impresses. While the torque curve is as flat as ever, the peak power comes on gradually throughout the range peaking at the 6000rpm mark at 192bhp. This, coupled with the new turbo engine’s eagerness to rev, gives you the sense of having more than enough power anywhere and anytime. In fact, with all the torque down low and power up high, the FWD drive-train works hard to just get rubber down to the pavement in spirited acceleration.

As with the previous JCW kit, this upgrade amplifies the character of the car. Naturally, this makes it decidedly different than the raspy, snarling character of the R53 JCW kit. But instead of the supercharger wine and the exhaust pops, you get a mean sounding 4 cylinder that has a hint of refinement and sophistication about it. The exhaust has a deeper tone that, like the previous kit, is in no way loud or obnoxious. It’s a character that fits with the new car and, dare I say it, is a little easier to live with day to day. It’s not nearly as refined as the F56, but then again, that should be music to many of your ears, I’d bet. Comparing the R56 Tuning Kit with the previous R53 JCW, it’s really hard to feel a difference in speed with just the seat of the pants in a standard 0-60 test. The figures below bear this out. However, one area that you can legitimately feel an improvement is in mid-range 4th gear acceleration, the kind many of us enjoy on on-ramps or in passing situations. Here the car seems to have endless power similar to what you’d experience with the JCW GP. In fact, this particular time is actually more inline with BMW’s published data for the GP.

For reference, here are the official numbers. Keep in mind BMW is notoriously conservative with their figures. Auto mags routinely get at least half a second better times in most tests (previous MINI and JCW tests have born this out).

Yes, folks, my JCW can go 0-60mph in 6.0s. My ex used to race cars in her youth and she said it felt faster than 6.0s. I also had my little car on a dyno and the service manager was amazed that it produced 400lb-ft torque, as powerful as his Mustang!

Downsides? As with any OEM accessory, price versus performance isn’t as high as it theoretically could be from the aftermarket. I also found it a little less satisfying not researching components and/or installing everything myself as I had with the R53. But with time marching on, the notion of getting under the hood seems like distant memory anyway. Then there’s the notion that $2,000 is only buying a few physical components – an exhaust, intake, and some pieces of plastic. Obviously, there’s the BMW ECU tuning and countless hours of engineering and testing that also add to the cost. Yes, taken as a whole, it’s an easier pill to swallow than the previous kit. But still, for those who love building their own car via the wonderful MINI aftermarket, I have no doubt that this kit won’t be the answer they're looking for.

At this point, if you’re considering the kit, your Cooper S is either out of warranty or getting close to it. So it is this all worth it? It really depends on what you want from the car and what you intend to use it for. If you’re budgeting about $2,000 on upgrades and you plan on extensively tracking your R56 MCS, I’d actually recommend the JCW Suspension Kit (or a quality after-market equivalent) over the engine kit. However if you’re going to be driving primarily on the street with one or two track days a year, than this kit starts to get very attractive. Yes, there are some pretty compelling after-market upgrades for the R56. And there’s little question that you can put together a comparable list of aftermarket components that come in under $2,000, but what MINI has done with the JCW Tuning Kit is to create a cohesive upgrade that leverages the knowledge of those who designed and engineered the car. It’s almost as if these components within the kit are simply the final stage of production that had been intended all along. If you like the warranty, the power, the seamless feel, and the cache of those little badges, this kit is absolutely worth the money. And if you fall into those categories, but still need to be talked into it, consider this fact: the new JCW kit gives you greater performance than the previous version at almost one-third the cost.

"Highly recommended kit. I've had mine for about 18 months and well worth it. Good power increase and drivability, good exhaust sound but no drone at speed, and full MINI warranty as well. My wife has a Cooper S Clubman and its great to compare both back to back and realise how good the kit is. The car feels like it has a sparkle above 4000rpm." -MJS, MINI2.com

According to the JCW Wiki, this kit is commonly referred to as the "Stage 1 Kit," although this nomenclature has never been officially employed by JCW or by BMW. According to Mike Cooper, this kit would create "the fastest Mini ever produced" due to the extra torque and in-gear acceleration, which in certain driving situations will be even faster than the 218 bhp (163kW) MINI JCW GP. In April 2011, the JCW Tuning Kit was updated for the Cooper S LCI (135kW) with the N18 engine. The kit consists of an uprated exhaust (cat-back), intake system, exhaust manifold, and an ECU remap. The Tuning Kit includes a small plaque with a unique serial number mounted on the engine as well as front and rear JCW emblems. The power is increased 12kW from the standard 135kW to 147kW.

According to auto123.com, MINI's award-winning Cooper S model is now available with a John Cooper Works (JCW) tuning kit for increased driving excitement. Designed exclusively for the next-generation Cooper S with six-speed manual, the JCW kit bumps horsepower from 172 to 189, while raising torque output to as high as 200 foot pounds. MINI says the increase is good for a 1.3 second reduction in the car's 80-120kmh acceleration figures in 6th gear. A more muscular sounding exhaust note follows around the JCW tuned Cooper, which identifies itself with package-exclusive badging. The kit adds a free-flowing stainless steel sports exhaust tuned excellent interior and exterior sound effects. The distinctive muffler tips are even engraved with the John Cooper Works logo. On the intake side, the 1.6 litre engine inhales through a larger airbox with a low-resistance filter element that work together for a more authoritative sounding induction growl. The revised intake enables a power increase as well. It's all handled by a reprogrammed ECU that's optimized for throttle response and power delivery throughout the rev-range.

"The JCW Tuning Kit is ideal for the MINI Cooper S enthusiast looking for a significant performance advantage along with the subtle optical cues that make his (or her) Cooper S a virtual special edition," said Stephen McDonnell, Director of MINI Canada

"If your car's under warranty, this kit is a strong candidate. With these parts in place, at expiration time the car owner will have a good backbone for even more mods/horsepower." -Doug Harper, FrankenTurbo

According to MINI Wiki, the specifications of the JCW Tuning Kit are as follows:

Features

  • Air Intake with Cone Filter
  • Exhaust Manifold
  • Cat-Back Exhaust
  • ECU Remap
  • Front and Rear Badges

Performance

  • 147kW (200PS | 197hp) @ 5700, an increase of 17bhp (13kW)
  • 250Nm (184lb-ft) @ 1750-5000rpm
  • 270Nm (199lb-ft) @ 1800-5000rpm (Overboost)
  • 0-62 ~ 6.6s (Hatchback) | 6.9s (Convertible) | 7.1s (Clubman)
  • top speed of 232km/h (144mph) is now possible

According to ECS Tuning ($2101.71 as of March 2020), this is what the kit contains:

This upgrade kit will take your MINI from the factory hp rating to 189hp and 200 lbs of torque between 1750 and 4500 RPMs. This includes a JCW air box surround and panel high flow air filter which allow the engine to breath more, JCW sport exhaust, and the revised ECU tune software. Also includes JCW badge for the air filter, front grille, and trunk.

  • JCW sound and feel.
  • Take your MINI Cooper S to JCW engine like performance.
  • This kit is ordered VIN specific and information / proof of ownership is needed.
  • ECU tune must be installed by a MINI dealership.
  • For US market only.

Comes with:

  • JCW air-box and filter
  • JCW exhaust pipe from midsection back
  • JCW tailpipes tips
  • Hose clamp
  • Self tapping screws
  • JCW exhaust clamp
  • JCW front and rear badge
  • Gasket seal for air-box
  • Paperwork

0-62 in the UK is the closest equivalent to 0-60 in the US, so it's on par with the BMW US specs of 0-60 in 6.5s.

In June 2017, I installed the JCW carbon fiber bonnet scoop and rear diffuser by myself and saved some money. Girl power!

"If you utter the words Singer, RS, GP, or John Cooper Works, this induces a smirk or a knowing nod from another owner or enthusiast. They know these iterations are the pinnacle of what a model is and can be. Owning any of these said models opens doors to a world of eliteness amongst other owners where we are kings of the hill and admired for it." -Ali Mir, JCW Adventures

John Cooper Works Wiki

John Cooper Works MINI Coopers: A Brief History

Yes, this is a fangirl page. I love my little MINI!

     

All images and work herein © 2007-2020 Clare Din. No reproduction without permission. All rights reserved.