A six-speed manual gearbox boosts the satisfaction level of driving a Mini JCW
Mini geared up for three-pedalled fun The best way to drive the Mini John Cooper Works manual on the track is to switch off all the electronic aids. -- PHOTO: MINI

If you love working a clutch pedal and changing gears yourself, the manual version of Mini's most powerful model can be your automotive soulmate on both the road and racetrack.

Some of you reading this may not have driven a car with a manual transmission. Even fewer people drive one daily. This is because the default gearbox you get with most of the cars in Singapore is an automatic, with two pedals in the driver's footwell.

It is no secret that three-pedal cars are fast disappearing from Singapore's roads.

Well, I drive a "manual transmission" every day. For this petrolhead at least, it is enjoyable exercising my left foot on the clutch pedal and using my left hand to row through the gears.

So it is with some satisfaction that I get to test a hot new Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) with manual transmission.

While the six-speed automatic JCW is a joy to drive, the six-speed manual version is even more delightful - because you have full control of the gears and the gearbox slips sweetly into any of them.

On the Mallorca circuit, the manual JCW is miles ahead of the auto version if you want to play hard with the most powerful Mini in history.

The new JCW is powered by a delectable 2-litre, 16-valve turbocharged engine that punches out 320Nm of torque from just a little past idling speed. Maximum twisting force is delivered all the way from 1,250rpm to 4,800rpm.

But the JCW is not merely about torque or power (231bhp between 5,200rpm and 6,000rpm).

The chassis has received highly effective tweaks that include lightweight suspension components, Brembo brakes and a stiffer spring/damper setup compared to the Cooper S.

The front-wheel-drive Mini JCW takes to the track like a pro, with the grip, poise and traction to humble a V8 racecar. It is so easy to pilot the JCW on a racetrack and have fun while doing so. The manual gearbox adds to the experience.

The car's front-end grip is a problem only if you get really aggressive (or untidy), but even then, standard EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) takes care of excessive wheelspin.

Lift your foot off the accelerator suddenly in mid-corner and the JCW tightens its cornering line, with a mild flick of its rear end that does not threaten to develop into oversteer.

Also standard on the JCW are DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control).

In my opinion, the best way to drive the Mini JCW manual on the track is to switch off all the electronic aids, which you can.

The manual John Cooper Work is available on special order, but it costs the same as the automatic variant and the buyer has to wait at least two months for delivery.

Even at more than $200,000, Mini's new three-pedal pocket rocket boasts a fun-per-dollar quotient that is hard to match.

CAR INFORMATION

MINI John Cooper Works 2.0 (A)

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,998 cc

Horsepower

:

228 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

320 Nm / 4,800 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

6.1 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

246 km/h