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Avoid the 2021 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP if You Like Keeping Your Lunch Down

The Mini Cooper is a spacious and stylish option for those looking for a subcompact car. But if you’ve ever driven one, you know the base engine isn’t exactly quick. If your Mini needs more speed, you might appreciate the 2021 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP.

This new Cooper looks ready to compete with other hot hatches such as the Honda Civic Type R. It boasts unique, aggressive styling and more than twice the regular Cooper’s horsepower. But MotorTrend says driving the Mini Cooper JCW GP can be a nauseating experience.

The 2021 Mini Cooper JCW GP is a “kidney puncher” 

The Mini Cooper JCW GP offers jarringly fast acceleration, and the front end tends to swerve at high speeds. According to Road & Track, the JCW can complete the 0-60 split in 5.1 seconds. Though that might thrill some, MotorTrend’s editors didn’t appreciate the drive. 

The suspension is also too stiff to be comfortable enough for the average driver. It also offers only two drive modes. And Motor1 found that switching to a less sporty mode didn’t make things better.

Motor1 says the JCW GP feels more like a muscle car than a subcompact. It has no problem with power delivery, as long as you keep it under 5,000 rpm. Anything over that disappointingly causes the turbo engine to struggle. 

Motor1 editors also observed that unless you’re driving on smooth pavement, the JCW GP is difficult to control. It poses a torque-steering issue — when heavy acceleration causes the steering wheel to turn by itself.

However, MotorTrend says the engine is still better than the Mini Cooper’s standard offering. JCW GP’s 2.0-liter turbo-four generates 301 hp, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Mini Cooper’s base turbo-three makes only 134 hp.

However, the standard powertrain is arguably superior in one aspect: its manual transmission. It’s a shame it isn’t available on the JCW GP, because it would provide a more engaging driving experience.

It has uncomfortable seating

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The stiff suspension is even more apparent thanks to the low front seats. Every small bump sends shocks through the cabin, making the car feel flimsily bolted together. However, the seats are still supportive, and there’s plenty of legroom for front-seat riders.

But the JCW GP lacks rear seats, replaced by an interior stabilizing bar. On the one hand, this makes the JCW GP a better racer because of the reduced weight. However, it greatly reduces the practicality in terms of passenger and cargo space.

It’s flashier than the average Mini Cooper

From the exterior, you can tell that the JCW GP was built with the track in mind. It sports a large rear wing and flared front fenders. It also produces a loud exhaust note. But Motor1 thinks the JCW GP isn’t as refined as other sporty cars. This Mini Cooper is also noisy on the inside thanks to the rear seats’ absence.

Final verdict

No doubt the JCW GP is more exciting than a regular Mini Cooper. The suspension is as stiff, and its wild ride quality will delight some drivers. But it’s not really suited for daily driving.

As MotorTrend says, the Mini Cooper JCW GP’s basic formula is great, but the execution falls flat. It feels overpowered, and the clamorous exhaust note doesn’t give this hot hatch any recognizable character.