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2017 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

MINI's John Cooper Works Hardtop hot hatch builds on the go-kart-like handling offered by the standard Hardtop with a potent turbo four, precise steering and an even tighter suspension setup.

Overview

Power for the John Cooper Works comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 231 horsepower between 5,200 and 6,000 rpm and 236 lb-ft. of torque from 1,250 all the way to 4,800 rpm.

Billed as the most powerful engine ever bolted in the engine bay of a regular-production MINI, the turbo four sends the John Cooper Works from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds when linked to a six-speed manual transmission or 5.9 seconds when bolted to the optional six-speed automatic unit. Top speed is reached at 153 mph.

Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the John Cooper Works returns 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway thanks in part to a standard start/stop system. Selecting the automatic transmission lowers city mileage to 23.

A lowered suspension setup and a John Cooper Works-specific sport brake system developed jointly with Italy's Brembo help the driver make the most of the MINI's grunt both on and off the track. Interestingly, a standard suspension setup is available as a no-cost option.

Looking the Part

The John Cooper Works stands out from the stock Hardtop on which it's based thanks to a noticeably more muscular look. MINI has fitted the hot hatch with a deep front bumper with large air ducts, black trim around the radiator grille, more pronounced fender flares all around and a bigger roof-mounted spoiler. 17-inch alloy wheels and a sprinkling of John Cooper Works emblems add a finishing touch to the motorsport-inspired look.

Life Aboard

Though one of the smaller vehicles currently on the market, the John Cooper Works Hardtop is far larger than its truly miniature predecessors. Space is ample up front, while the rear seats are sufficient for small adults and children. The Hardtop offers 8.7 cubic feet of cargo space with four occupants on board and 34 cubes with the rear seatbacks folded flat.

In a bid to make the Cooper more ergonomic, MINI moved the speedometer from the center of the dashboard to behind the steering wheel. The speedometer is equipped with an integrated thin-film transistor screen that can be configured to provide a wide array of information about the car, and it is flanked by a small tachometer.

A host of aircraft-inspired toggle switches on the dash enable the driver to turn on or off the parking sensors, the start/stop system, the traction control and the heads-up display (if equipped). A large, clearly visible toggle switch is used to start and stop the engine. Additionally, the John Cooper Works benefits from model-specific sport seats with integrated headrests, a black anthracite headliner and stainless steel pedals.

The real estate freed up by the speedometer has been replaced by a high-definition color touch screen that runs the automaker's infotainment system. Called MINI Connected, the software groups the car's entertainment, navigation and connectivity functions into a single unit controlled by the aforementioned touch screen or buttons located right below it. MINI Connected can run applications such as Pandora radio and it enables the driver to upload directions from a computer or a mobile device via Google Send-to-Car.

Standard and Optional Equipment

The MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop comes standard with automatic headlights, dual-zone A/C, rain-sensing wipers, cloth upholstery, AUX and USB inputs as well as a multi-function steering wheel.

The list of options includes additional 17- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs, the aforementioned six-speed automatic transmission (which adds a pair of shift paddles), MINI's adjustable Dynamic Damper Control suspension, leather upholstery, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, auto-dimming mirrors, a Harmon/Kardon sound system, navigation, an alarm, a camera-based active cruise control, a heads-up display, a rear-view camera, parking sensors on both ends and a long list of aesthetic add-ons such as roof decals and racing stripes.

Several option packages are available. Highlights include the Premium Package, which bundles map pockets on the back of the front seats, a storage net in the passenger footwell, a cargo position for the rear bench, a 12-volt power socket in the trunk, the Harmon/Kardon sound system mentioned above, a panoramic sunroof and keyless entry.

The Loaded Package builds on the Premium Package with a bigger 6.5-inch touch screen, a center armrest and enhanced Bluetooth connectivity.

Occupant Safety

The John Cooper Works comes standard with front, side, knee and side curtain airbags, three-point seatbelts on all seats, electronic stability control and traction control.

Available optional safety features include collision and pedestrian detection with initial brake function and traffic sign recognition.

Key Competitors

The compact-sized MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop has very few direct competitors in the United States. Its main rivals include slightly bigger hot hatches like the Volkswagen GTI and the Ford Focus ST.