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2012 Mini Coupe John Cooper Works First Drive (And She Means DRIVE!)

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Henny at Speed In 2012 Mini Coupe John Cooper Works

Made for Boys...and Girls

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
Amsterdam Bureau
The Auto Channel

MELK - June 8, 2011: The new 2012 Mini Coupe is on its way to the dealers, and to the men. At least, that is the plan, since Mini says the fifth model is aimed at male buyers.

But wait, how about myself and the female Mini-fans? Wouldn't we like the kinky looking coupe..? To judge this, I did not have to wait until October 1st, when the Coupe will hit 30 markets worldwide: several partly disguised prototypes were ready for test drives at the Wachauring in Austria.

So first thing I did, was not eagerly getting behind the wheel of the JCW-in-disguise, but opening the boot. Since I have driven a car with only two seats almost all my (driving) life, I know they can be practical too. Provided there is enough space to store my shopping bags or the cabin roller and the medium size suitcase that I use when flying away for longer tan than a week.

One glance in the Coupe’s luggage compartment says enough. This body style will suit me fine. Anders Warming, chief designer of the Mini brand says it has the biggest cargo space of the 5 Mini models at 280 liter (up 120 liters from the hatchback), With the possibility to load longer items through to the passenger compartment (20 x 30 cm) you the Coupe can even take your golf bag or a snowboard, provided that is not longer than 170 cm) No wonder the marketing people say this will be a hot selling point.

So why not to the ladies…?

Sure you have to love its go-kart style handling, but that applies to all Mini’s. Will it be much different? Time to start sorting that out, but not until after we have talked to Anders about the design.

Adjustable wing

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The new Coupe has been developed on the platform of the Convertible. That has a provision to prevent torsion, as well as improved rigidity. It does not mean the torsional stiffness is the same: that of the Coupe: it is 1,5 per cent less. Important for handling is the double spoiler at the rear. The one at the end of the roof is fixed, but the one on the boot lid is moving up from 80 km/h. Mini incorporates the adjustable wing as a first in class. The car is a fraction of an inch shorter than the hatch, but over an inch lower.

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Anders Warming: “They only work together and adds 1 per cent or 40 kgs of weight to the rear axle for traction.. We needed this, since the air flow at the back of the Coupe is much different than of the other models, because of the short roof and the shape of the rear. Up front the wind shield is okaced 13 per cent flatter than the ones of the other Mini models.”

Shortly after unveiling the Concept for the Coupe and the Roadster, Mini said the goal was to decrease weight by some 50 kg compared to the hatchback. But now it turns out the Coupe is 25 kg heavier. It does not have any light weight materials on board and for instance the adjustable wing including its electric motors add in total some 7 kg to the weight.

The John Cooper Works model has 211 hp and 260 Nm of torque. No wonder, this fastest engine variant was the one available for our first tests at the Wachauring. The engine sound is really stimulating and the handling with the stability control system ‘on’ is gentle. By a push on the button the DSC is disengaged, but you still have traction control. This is witched off when you push the button for more than 3 seconds and you are on your own.

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I did not pay attention to the stability control light flickering, when exiting a corner, but saw in the rear view mirror the spoiler going up, meaning the pace was good.

Although, I could have fooled the guys watching in the pits by pushing the switch in the center roof control to activate the spoiler by lower speeds before entering the bend…..

With a weight distribution that is practically the same as of the hatchback, there is not much difference in driving the Coupe at the track.

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The engine power is readily available, so that you do not need to use the stick shift of the manual 6-speed gearbox that much. In third gear the torque is well available and traction is excellent and it holds the line. Even when you push the pedal too early when entering a corner, you never have the feeling that a wheel is in the air and the Coupe can be corrected in a sophisticated way. Shifting back to second is only needed for the slalom part that has been set up in the middle of the track’s route. There you feel the nimbleness of the electromechanical power steering.

In short the Coupe offers a lot of driving fun, and like I said, a practicality too. But is the feeling much more ‘masculine’ than of the JCW hatch….. I don’t think so. Anyway, it will be one of the first comparison tests to be done with the Mini Coupe JCW: not with the competition brands, but in house with its own brother the JCW hatch.

Speaking about competition, the new Coupe will be entered in the upcoming 24 hours of the Nürburgring that will be held at the end of the month. Rumor goes that there will be two cars and that they will be driven by pilots who have proven their pace in the Mini Challenge…..

Stay tuned for more news about racing with the Mini Coupe on or after June 23. That is also the day that the exact specs and official photos will be released. Coming up closer to the world debut in Frankfurt in September, we can expect pricing.

MINI John Cooper Works Coupe

Engine: 4-cylinder petrol engine, twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection.
Technical elements carried over from motor sport.
Displacement: 1,598 cc,
Performance: 155 kW/211 hp at 6,000 rpm,
Max. torque: 260 Nm/192 lb-ft at 1,850 – 5,600 rpm (280 Nm/207 lb-ft with overboost at 1,700 – 4,500 rpm).
Acceleration: 0–62 mph: 6.4 seconds,
Top speed: 149 mph.
Average fuel consumption (EU standard): 39.8 mpg (7.1 litres per 100 kilometres),
CO2 emissions: 165 g/km.

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Henny Hemmes, Senior European Editor, The Auto Channel

Besides being the first female race car driver to ever win a Dutch FIA Championship in The Netherlands, Henny Hemmes is one of Europe’s most prolific and well-regarded autowriters. She can boast 30 years of experience as a race driver, race instructor and anti skid instructor.

She works as a test driver and automotive writer for The Auto Channel, Dutch and European publications and successful internet sites on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

She is a member of the Jury with three different car-of-the-year elections worldwide and a classic car event in Germany.

She is president of the Automotive Press Club in her home country, The Netherlands.