Next JCW Mini Will Be Electric … or Gas, Your Pick

Mini Cooper/Bernhard Filser

As its namesake would likely appreciate, Mini’s latest iteration of its John Cooper Works model will be seen by the world for the first time on track.

Ahead of its unveiling this fall, the car will compete in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, held June 1–2. Privateers Bulldog Racing will field the gas-powered version of the car in the SP 3T class (that translates to GT cars with turbocharged engines of 2000 cc or less).

Unlike the racing team, customers will get their pick of powertrain—Mini will offer the upcoming JCW lineup (which cars that entails, it isn’t saying) with either gas or battery power. Mini isn’t the first automaker to offer this either/or choice within one model: Dodge is offering its new muscle car with either a battery pack or a straight-six.

New MINI John Cooper Works camo 24 Hours Nurburgring June 2024
Mini/Bernhard Filser

The John Cooper name and Minis go back to 1961, when the racer and F1 constructor of the same name began to modify Minis. His work resulted in the first Mini Cooper, the most famous of which was driven by Paddy Hopkirk to victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. It remains one of racing’s greatest underdog stories. The number 37 logos on Bulldog’s car nod to that story, though the car will race as #317 when it competes at the ‘Ring next weekend.

When BMW revived the Mini brand, the JCW name appeared on mild performance kits blessed by the factory, which extended the warranty to such modified cars. In mid-2008, the world met the Mini John Cooper Works. The clunky name, often abbreviated to “Mini Jay-Cee-Double-U,” designated not a kit but a distinct model, a variant of the regular Mini. That pattern continues today. There are four JCW models currently available: A two-door convertible, a two-door hardtop, a six-door Clubman, and a Countryman SUV. While you can still order a two-door hardtop with a six-speed manual for the 2024 model year, this new JCW (and all other ICE-powered Minis) will come equipped with an automatic, as we learned last fall.

We’ve known about the company’s plans to electrify the spiciest Mini for a while—as far back as November of 2020, actually. Given our experience with the less-sporty version now in production, known as the Cooper SE, we’re very curious about the JCW version: Of the SE, we pronounced turn-in quick, body roll minimal, and corner exists “a tire-shrieking, wheel-tugging riot.” Batteries and motors instead of tank and engine will likely decrease the driving range of an electric JCW compared to its ICE equivalent, but they are almost guaranteed to lower the center of gravity. Our best hope is that the electric JCW will be the kind of car you keep up at your mountain house and charge overnight when you get there for a morning of corner-carving the next day.

2023 Mini Cooper SE
2023 Mini Cooper SEConner Golden

Even with the departure of the manual, we do not lose hope for the ICE version of the JCW Mini, though our fingers are crossed that it will source a better auto than the torque-converter in the outgoing JCW Clubman. Jack Baruth found that gearbox the only flaw in an otherwise delightfully enthusiastic track car. If Mini were to make that automatic more athletic, the Mini JCW might live up to the motorsport intent evident in the location of its debut next weekend. Mini, we really want to believe in you: Don’t disappoint us!

If you’re at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, give a close listen to the gear changes. Even better, if you know somebody at Bulldog, buy ’em a few rounds and do a little investigative journalism for us.


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    Given how the current Mini lineup is basically a BMW now in a “Mini” bodykit I do wonder what the point of Mini’s “Maxi” sized cars are anymore.

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