Flash Drive: 2009 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2012.
By Staff of MSN Autos
I've always loved driving the MINI, and this John Cooper Works special edition takes the experience up a notch. With more than 200 turbocharged horses on tap and a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, the MINI JCW is great fun. In fact, driving the nimble little creature is about as much on-road entertainment as you can have with front-wheel drive. The JCW handles the way it does mostly because of the car's diminutive size. Unfortunately, that small size translates to a rather claustrophobic interior. This was a major issue for my wife and daughter, neither of whom enjoyed being in the car. That small size does help at the gas pump, though. I averaged 26 mpg — an impressive number after a few days of driving the MINI pretty hard. I found this to be a great driver's car, not a great passenger's car. – Perry Stern
The MINI Cooper has always been sporty and a blast to drive, but the 2009 MINI John Cooper Works takes it up another level. The automaker has pumped up the power to 208 horses, 36 more than the already quick Cooper S. A 6-speed manual transmission and sport suspension help the driver keep this little rocket under control, while the perfectly tuned exhaust note, exiting through two large, center-mounted pipes, lets everyone know that this MINI means business. With all that power going to the front wheels, torque steer becomes a factor, particularly at low speeds. Sport seats, checkered-flag floor mats and 17-inch alloy wheels set the JCW apart from other MINI versions. But like all the other MINIs on the road, everyone seems to love this sports car packed into a tiny package. – Mike Meredith
Take the almost perfect MINI Cooper S and add better handling and performance and you have the John Cooper Works package. This car loves to cruise around town or carve up hills, and the larger chromed exhaust makes a sweet sound when you punch the accelerator. Thanks to the peppy turbocharged engine and the light curb weight, the Cooper Works feels more powerful than it actually is. Not only is it a blast to drive, I still achieved 32 mpg in mixed driving. While the Cooper Works is petite, it still has a usable back seat and decent luggage-carrying capacity if the rear seats are folded down. If you are looking for a quick car that doesn't break your wallet at the pump, take this car out for a test drive. – Joe Chulick