MINI is a lifestyle, a brand that captures the design ethos of MINI, and is no longer a description of size. Well, maybe, or maybe that’s all marketing speak. What’s the product actually like to live with?

I drove a MINI John Cooper Works for a week, followed by the larger, more powerful Clubman version of the same car.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Quirky details
Looks
Handling
Power
Sound
Great stereo
Build quality
Quirky details
Hard ride
Price

What’s In The MINI Range?

There’s a pretty wide range of MINIs available: 3-Door and 5-Door hatch, convertible, Clubman, Countryman. Then there’s MINI Electric[LINK]. Each has multiple trim levels.

To save having waaay too much detail I’ll focus on just the two John Cooper Works (JCW) models reviewed.

First up we have the 3-door Hatch JCW, with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 170kW of power and 320Nm of torque driving the front wheels via an 8-speed sports automatic transmission. Then there’s the Clubman, also with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine but this one makes 225kW of power and 450Nm of torque.

There’s a similar 8-speed automatic transmission but the Clubman has 4-wheel drive. Useful to get 302bhp of power down to the road! Each is available in three spec levels: Classic, Essential and MINI Yours.

Pricing is as follow, with our review car specs in bold

ClassicEssentialMINI Yours
3-Door Hatch JCW$62,390$66,950$70,950
Clubman JCW$74,090$76,800$80,300

MINI John Cooper Works Hatch Standard Equipment Highlights

Essential spec includes:

  • Airbags for driver and front passenger (2 front, 2 side, curtain airbags in front and rear)
  • (ABS) including Brake Assist and Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) including Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC)
  • Electronic Braking Force Distribution Control
  • ISOFIX child seat mounting
  • City Crash Mitigation (CCM) with pedestrian detection – also known as Autonomous
  • Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking preconditioning
  • Park Distance Control (front & rear), including Parking Assistant
  • Speed Limit Info
  • Electronic park brake
  • 17” Track Spoke alloy wheels in black
  • Run flat tyres
  • LED headlights with Union Jack taillights
  • Piano black exterior trim
  • Dinamica/Leather John Cooper Works sports seats
  • Seat heating for driver & front passenger
  • Piano black interior surface
  • Nappa leather sports steering wheel
  • Headliner in Anthracite
  • Auto dipping interior mirror
  • Dual zone automatic climate control
  • Rear view camera
  • Parking assistant
  • Driving assistant incl. Lane departure warning.
  • Dynamic Cruise Control
  • Digital instrument cluster with 5.5′ display
  • Real time traffic
  • Wireless integration of Apple CarPlay
  • MINI Navigation System with 8.8′ touch display
  • Digital radio
  • Wireless charging
  • 18 exterior paint combinations
  • 60/40 split rear seat

Classic adds

  • 18” Course spoke alloy wheels
  • Bonnet stripes (3 Choices)
  • Leather Cross Punch sport seats
  • Ambient lights package
  • Active cruise control
  • Heads-Up display
  • Concierge services
  • Harman Kardon Sound System
  • 81 exterior paint combinations

MINI Yours further adds

  • Adaptive LED Headlights
  • Sun protection glazing
  • Panorama glass sunroof
  • MINI Yours Leather Lounge sport seats
  • Silver Chequered interior surface
  • 3 Interior Worlds – (leather in Carbon Black, Satellite Grey or Malt Brown)

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman Standard Equipment Highlights

Differences to the hatch are:

Classic spec includes:

  • 19” Circuit spoke alloy wheels 
  • Mobility kit
  • Sports stripes (2 Choices)
  • Roof rails in matte black 
  • Electric seat adjustment 
  • Steering wheel heating 
  • Through loading system
  • 95 exterior paint combinations
  • 40/20/40 split rear seats

MINI Yours includes:

  • Panorama glass sunroof
  • Piano Black illuminated interior

Colours available on Essential spec are

  • Pepper White
  • Chili Red
  • Rooftop Grey
  • Island Blue
  • Midnight Black II

Classic and MINI Yours add

  • Rebel Green
  • Moonwalk Grey
  • White Silver
  • BRG (British Racing Green)
  • Zesty Yellow

For a full list of specs and options available for the MINI jump on over to the MINI New Zealand website

How Does The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Compare To Its Competition?

There’s quite a variety of options in this price and performance range.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
Torque
kW/Nm
0-100km/h,
seconds
Fuel
L/100km
Boot
Space,
litres
Price
Mercedes-AMG A352.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/4004.77.4405$92,718
Audi S3 Sportback2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo228/4004.87.4325$89,500
BMW M135i2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/4504.87.5380$88,900
MINI Clubman John Cooper Works Yours2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo225/4504.77.7360$80,300
Renault Megane RS Trophy1.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo221/4205.87.5434$68,990
MINI 3-Door Hatch John Cooper Works Essential2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo170/3206.16.3211$66,950
Hyundai i30N Hatchback2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo205/3926.18.5381$65,990
Honda Civic Type-R2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo228/4005.88.8420$62,990
Ford Focus ST2.3-litre, 4-cylinder turbo234/4205.78.6273$59,990
Subaru WRX STI2.5-litre4-cylinder turbo 221/4074.910.9460$59,990

First Impressions Of The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works

Once I’d got over the small disappointment of the 3-door review car being in Rooftop Grey rather than a nice bright colour, I thought it looked great. Clearly a classic Mini profile, with the black racing stripes really suiting it. The cheeky little air intake on the nose, although not actually functional, signifies that it’s a sporty model, and the gloss black details look fantastic. The big grille kinda works, and I think it looks better than the lower-spec cars with a body-coloured centre grille section.

The roof spoiler and gloss-black rear diffuser look sporty and cool, and the cheeky fat twin centre exhaust finished the picture nicely. I’m not so sure about the Union Jack lights but they are a point of difference.

Overall it’s a great-looking package. Cute but sporty.

The Clubman review car came in White Silver which suits the car, but I’d still have it in a real colour. This one didn’t have the bonnet stripes, which I think is a shame as they looked great on the hatch. The Clubman is a sort of mini station wagon, similar in length to the 5-door but with a lower roof and squarer back. And of course the twin rear “barn doors” like the classic 60s model. The longer shape isn’t quite as taut and complete-looking as the hatch but it adds much more practicality with the extra doors and larger boot. The Union Jack taillights are a different shape and are a bit more subtle. There’s a smaller spoiler, and a smaller rear diffuser with the fat twin tailpipes moved out to one at each side.

So nearly as cute, definitely as sporty, but more practical.

What’s The Interior Like In The  2022 MINI John Cooper Works?

In a word? Quirky. This is both a good thing and a not-so-good thing.

The dash is dominated by that massive central circular display which harks back to the original Mini’s central analogue speedometer. In the new MINI it’s an 8.8” widescreen touchscreen which has all of the usual stereo, SatNav, reverse camera etc and it’s great resolution and clarity. The ring around it lights up differently depending on what you’re doing. It blends with the ambient lighting, or shows volume when you turn the knob, or goes from blue to green when you adjust the climate control. Very quirky and different.

The climate knobs underneath are pretty normal then under those are old-shool style rocker switches for various function, with a red engine stop/start switch in the centre. I love that they have made a real feature of this. Get in the car and the stop/start switch glows. Put your foot on the brake and it brightens. A little bit of theatre for an ordinary function.

The steering wheel is nappa leather-clad and beautifully chunky. I love it! It has buttons for stereo and SatNav and they’re all logical to use. The driver’s display is an oval-shaped TFT screen with no cowl around it and it’s simple and functional. It has a matte surface that never seems to suffer from reflections and is always clear and bright. Finally the driver gets a pop-up heads-up display for the essential functions such as speed and current speed limit. It changes to add a rev counter in Sport mode.

Everything feels properly solid, chunky and well built. All JCW MINIs have leather seats but the Countryman gets electric adjustment. The 3-door has to make do with manual for easier movement of the seats to get into the rear. This does mean that every time you let a rear passenger in or out you have to get the driver’s seat back into your preferred position.

Open the armrest and you’ll find a Qi wireless phone charger with a spring-loaded clip to hold the phone in place. The charger works when the ignition is off and the lid can be closed, allowing you to leave your phone on charge in the car. Or in my case ensuring you forget it and have to go back. It fit my iPhone SE perfectly but Fred’s larger-screen iPhone phone with a cover wouldn’t fit. 

There are two cup holders in the front but rear passengers will have to fight over a single one in the centre. The front seats in both models were comfortable and easy to get adjusted properly. These are the sort of seats that you don’t really notice because they’re just right.

Rear seat accommodation in the four-seater MINI hatch felt surprisingly spacious to me, but my daughter said she was thrown from side to side on every corner! There were no such complaints from the back seat of the 5-seater Clubman.

The hatch seats are 60/40 split-folding and the Clubman 40/20/40 for some extra load flexibility. There’s a clever little bracket on the seats that allows you to expand boot space by locking the seat back about 15cm forward perpendicular to the floor. This gives a bigger boot but the seat is still there to hold things in place.

The hatch has 211 litres of boot space and a two-level boot floor to either expand the space or hide things underneath. The Clubman has a more shopping-friendly 360 litres and still has the double floor.

The barn doors on the Clubman can be opened with the remote, one then the other with two presses of the button. Useful when your hands are full. They look cool but I’m not sure they’re that practical as they swing very wide, and the first time I leaned into the boot I cracked my head on the rear spoiler, effectively demonstrating why most hatchbacks open the way they do! I also found when getting things out of the boot in heavy rain, a long stream of water ran off the spoiler directly into the boot, and in my case into my shoes! The same happens with the side doors directly onto the seats. There’s some restriction of the rearview with the central pillar where the rear barn doors meet. Not a big deal and it’s something you get used to just like when driving a van.

What’s The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Like To Drive?

Flick the softly-pulsing start switch and the JCW MINI growls into life with a little more character than we’ve come to expect on a new car. It’s not exactly loud but it’s louder than any recent VAG cars I’ve driven. And this is all real sound, not through the speakers. Not only that, it sounds rather characterful and fruity. Great work from a 4-cylinder motor.

Set off into traffic in the JCW hatch, and wow this thing has a stiff ride! It rides like a Toyota 86GT. Not harsh at all, the bumps are well-damped, but very firm to the extent that it jiggles your kidneys on any bump bigger than a painted line. But because of that you can feel every bit of the surface you’re driving on. The steering feels quick, tight and darty, and the JCW corners beautifully. MINI like to talk about go-kart handling and yes, the JCW Hatch definitely has that! It’s fun around town for five minutes, then it starts to get a bit tiring. But get it on a twisty road and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear whilst cornering at impressive speeds. In fact that’s almost a problem because the car is so solid-feeling and competent at speed that it feels slower than it is, and you’ll find yourself wanting more.

Performance from the 170kW 2.0-litre turbo is very good, with the 0-100 dash completed in 6.1 seconds. But with 320Nm of torque, in-gear acceleration is just as impressive. Dab the throttle and, oops you just gained 20kph! Gear shifts are lightning-fast and accompanied by a little throttle blip that almost sounds like the farting noise made by a DSG. But this is a traditional 8-speed automatic, just a very impressive one.

There are three drive modes – Mid, which is the default setting on start, Sport, which gives you the most dynamic driving, and Eco, which softens the throttle and gives various meters to encourage more efficient driving. This includes my old frenemy the eco goldfish which I remember from reviewing my first MINI about 7 years ago.

The active cruise control works well and is simple to operate, coming to a complete stop when needed.

There are some little things that I found irritating, most of which would probably become habit to work around if the car was your daily, but still. The indicators don’t stay up or down when activated – a soft press does three blinks, a hard press turns the indicator on, then the stalk returns to the centre. This means it doesn’t always cancel, so you have to click the other way, and sometimes it cancels as you do so you end up indicating the opposite way. Or on a roundabout going right you have to click down twice to cancel then indicate left to exit. Irritating. BMW switched to this type in the past then stopped using them. Also, the track skip button brings up a menu then you have to press another button to actually skip, turning a one-button function into a fiddly operation. Why, MINI, why? And finally, you have to press the button to turn on auto wipers every time. Why doesn’t it stick?

And one more thing – it’s loud on chip seal and rougher roads. Likely a feature often run-flat tyres because the Clubman has normal tyres, in 19” rather than 18”, and they’re definitely less noisy. The Clubman also has a less jiggly ride, which my kidneys thanked me for.

So onto the Clubman. As well as two more doors, a bigger boot, cool-but-a-little-bit-silly boot doors and an extra passenger seat, the Clubman has 4-wheel drive, and an extra 55 kW of power. It has a total of 225kW of power – a whole 302 British Horsepowers (as Google describes it) and 450Nm of torque. This shaves the 0-100 time down to a very rapid 4.7 seconds.

The ride is definitely better in the Clubman, my passengers remarked upon it too. The steering feels just as quick and sharp, and around town, the extra power isn’t that noticeable. But get it on that twisty back road, engage Sport mode and ohh yes you can definitely feel it! The exhaust is more rorty, and the Clubman leaps forward eagerly at any speed, giving you a fair bit of torque steer as it does so. The shifts get a bit rougher too, giving you a little punch in the back that just adds to the grin factor. Wind the windows down and you can hear the turbo whistling over that exhaust note. It’s fun!

Fuel consumption in the hatch was a little more than the quoted figure of 6.3, averaging 8.7 l/100km, but it was all short trips and town driving, so to be fairer to the JCW, the urban figure quoted is 7.3l/100km. Much closer.

Combined fuel usage for the Clubman is quoted as 7.7 litres per 100km. My average, doing around-town driving was about 10.6 litres but adding in a weekend trip of about 350km brought it down to 8.5 litres which is not bad at all.

2022 MINI John Cooper Works Specifications

MINI 3-Door Hatch John Cooper Works ClassicMINI Clubman John Cooper Works Yours
Vehicle TypeHatchback“Hatchback” with double rear doors
Starting Price$66,950$80,300
Price as Tested$66,950$80,300
Engine2.0-litre In-line four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine with high precision direct injection2.0-litre In-line four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine with high precision direct injection
Power, Torque
kW/Nm
170/320225/450
Transmission8-speed sports automatic transmission with Steptronic, paddle shift gear change & launch control8-speed sports automatic transmission with Steptronic, paddle shift gear change & launch control
Spare WheelRun-flat tyresEmergency repair kit
Kerb Weight, Kg12451415
Length x Width x Height
mm
3872 x 1727 x 14144266 x 1800 x 1441
Cargo Capacity,
Litres
(seats up/seats down)
211360
Fuel tank capacity,
litres
4448
Fuel Economy,
L/100km
Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.3
Real-World Test – Combined – 8.7
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.7
Real-World Test – Combined – 8.5
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Not recommended1300
Turning circle
metres
10.8
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
11.3
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty3 Year Scheduled Servicing
3 Year Warranty Plan 
3 Year Roadside Assistance
3 Year Scheduled Servicing
3 Year Warranty Plan 
3 Year Roadside Assistance
Safety informationANCAP Rating – not yet tested
Rightcar.govt.nz – 3 Stars – NNA220
ANCAP Rating – not yet tested
Rightcar.govt.nz – 3 Stars – NNA223

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Driver Technology
7
Economy
6
Handling
9
Infotainment
8
Interior
9
Performance
8
Ride
7
Safety
8
Styling
9
Value
7
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I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!
2022-mini-john-cooper-works-car-reviewThe MINI JCW Hatch is fast, handles spectacularly well, and looks great. It has the cutesy looks and the image, but that’s not just skin deep. The build quality and finish is excellent and the engineering underneath is top of the line. But the ride is so firm I’d really struggle to live with it on the daily drive. Then there’s the price - it’s pretty steep for a small hot hatch.I spent a lot of time thinking about what the target market is for this car, I concluded that it’s the car for the professional divorcee with two young kids, who wants to show she’s still got it. <p><br>The MINI Clubman JCW is a slightly more grown-up proposition. The ride is better, it’s even faster, and still handles just as well. Plus an adult can get into and out of the back without making those over-40s groans that those of us of a certain age start to make. The barn doors at the back are a bit of a gimmick but will impress in the supermarket car park.<br><br> At over $80k it’s quite the investment but I think the build quality justifies it. Whether it’s worth the money is up to you, but I suspect if you’re already at the point where you’re test-driving a new MINI then the only question will be “What colour should I buy?”

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