MINI Hatch Other Hatchback (2010 - ) review

Read the MINI Hatch John Cooper Works (2008 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

Last updated: 21st November 2014
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The John Cooper Works is the fastest, most driver-focussed MINI available. Despite the performance, this hot hatch sips petrol and is comfortable to drive.


  • Poised handling
  • Strong performance
  • Cheap to run


  • Expensive
  • Unruly to drive on the limit
  • Compromised rear legroom and bootspace

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Exterior 3/5

The full John Cooper Works makeover includes the aero body kit, twin rear exhausts, 17-inch Challenge alloy wheels and Brembo front brakes. The MINIs closest rivals are the Renaultsport Clio 200 and Volkswagen Golf GTI. We think it has more presence than the Clio, but the Golf looks more expensive. The John Cooper Works version of the MINI is attractive in a subtle way. The unique 17-inch alloy wheels and Brembo brakes look great, but it looks too similar to the Cooper S for the price hike.

Interior 4/5

The John Cooper Works MINI improves on the standard car’s interior with the additon of a tactile part-suede steering wheel and piano black interior trim. There’s real character to the over-styled feel of the MINI’s interior. Neat design touches include the plate-sized speedo, the column-mounted rev-counter and the rocker switches below the air-con controls. It’s a shame that the quality of some of the plastics aren’t up to the price tag. Also, it might look chic, but some of the dashboard switchgear is poorly-placed and after four years is beginning to look a bit dated.

Practicality 2/5

There’s no lack of headroom and legroom in the front, so tall drivers can get comfy. Sadly, two adults in the back will find it a bit of squeeze, as the rear seats are really only suitable for children. The 160-litre boot is smaller than rivals, but at least the rear seatbacks split and fold to increase practicality. The MINI’s all-round visibility is generally good, but the thick roof pillars can sometimes obscure pedestrians and other cars at junctions.

Ride and handling 3/5

With 208bhp going through the MINI’s front wheels, the John Cooper Works has earned a reputation for its fun, if wayward handling. It’s even more of a challenge to drive hard with the sport button turned on and there’s noticeably less traction and composure when accelerating. Considering the performance, the suspension while hard, is only uncomfortable on very bumpy roads. MINI offers firmer and lower suspension set-ups as options. Overall, the MINI John Cooper Works hatchback is a fun and entertaining handler that is generally easy to drive. This MINI is fitted with two-stage traction control. Press the button once and the system is partially disabled allowing more slip, press it again and the system is fully off. This MINI is a pleasure to drive, well-weighted and gives excellent feedback.

Performance 4/5

The MINI John Cooper Works produces 208bhp and top speed is 148mph. With its 1,140kg kerb weight, the MINI falls between the superlight Renault’s 1,204kg and the heavyweight Volkswagen’s 1,318kg. The MINI covers 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds. It is powered by a modified version of the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine developed from the MINI Challenge car. One of the modifications is a fruitier sounding exhaust that crackles between gears, adding to the car’s character. It’s mated with a sweet-shifting and precise six-speed manual transmission.

Running costs 5/5

The MINI Hatch JCW returns 40mpg and emits 165g/km emissions. Opt for the TLC pack when you buy and all servicing costs, including some replacements, are included for five or eight years, depending on the pack chosen.

Reliability 4/5

There have been no major reliability problems with the second-generation MINI, so there’s no reason why the John Cooper Works MINI should give you any issues.

Safety 4/5

The standard MINI scored five stars for adult occupant protection in EuroNCAP crash tests, so the John Cooper Works is one of the safest cars on sale. Standard eqiupment includes electronic stability control and six airbags.

Equipment 3/5

Standard equipment includes air-conditioning, ESP, 17-inch wheels and run-flat tyres, along with front side and curtain airbags. One of the key MINI selling points is the ability to personalise your car and the John Cooper Works has an expansive range of options including a chili pack, xenon headlamps and sports suspension.

Why buy? 3/5

The MINI John Cooper Works hatchback is an exciting drive, but we’d spend the extra £1,000 for the quirky Clubman, which for the extra money offers a more polished driving experience and is the best version of the fastest MINI.

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