Mini is crying out to get the John Cooper Works treatment. Stand by to see it after a huge launch at Detroit motor show

Mini is crying out to get the John Cooper Works treatment. Stand by to see it after a huge launch at Detroit motor show

Mini aims to make a big splash at the North American International Auto Show (almost invariably referred to simply as the Detroit Motor Show), by unveiling its all-new John Cooper Works Concept. Though it’s tagged as a concept there’s little doubt it will be close to being the real thing.

The German-owned British brand is now in its third generation since its revival in 2002 and is larger than ever. The new Mini never was mini in the manner of the miniature 1959 Mini and has grown to maxi proportions. The usual excuses are given, crash protection needs more bodywork and people are getting larger than ever.

Perhaps the reason for the huge Detroit show introduction is to prove that Americans (who these days are almost, but not quite, as large as Australians) can get comfortable inside a Mini. All four seats of the gen-three offer more space and as a bonus the boot has been expanded by 30 per cent. It looks to be still relatively tight in the back, though, not quite coupe-like as before, but not really providing the family-hatch space.

Wisely, the powers behind the scene issued instructions that the latest Mini should continue to look like a Mini. So in the manner of its main rivals, the VW Beetle and Fiat 500, the new generation Mini is evolutionary not revolutionary in its lines. We like it like that.

Compared with the standard new Mini and Cooper S, which are yet to go on sale in Australia, the JCW Cooper is sure to have an even bolder body kit, further advancing its street cred.

Sadly, one striking feature of the Mini for the last 55 years has gone – the central speedometer. Introduced in 1959 to cut the costs and complexity of making the car with the steering wheel on the right or left, it was loved by all. Though it has to be said the drivers in a hurry didn’t like the speedo being visible to their wives…

Though still big, bold and round, the speedo now sits in a conventional position directly in front of the driver. Its place in the centre of the dash has been taken over by an infotainment system, which includes the newly developed Mini Connected feature.

Details of the worked JCW engine have yet to be released, the standard Mini Cooper S manages a handy 141 kilowatts of power and 280 Newton metres of torque. Expect the JCW to go significantly higher on both counts.

Standard versions of the new third-generation Mini are expected in Australia in March or April 2014. No date has been set for the John Cooper Works to reach us downunder, but we trust it’s not too far down the track.

On the subject of down the track, as well as increased rear seat space, spy shots have been circulated on the internet of five-door hatch versions of the gen-three Mini.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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