The third-generation Mini Cooper and Cooper S are set to go on sale this spring, and the alpha dog 2015 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works hatchback is already itching to join the pack. We managed to wrangle some spy shots of the rascal out testing in northern Sweden.
Since the prototype is still in its early stages, the body we see here is largely based on the Cooper S. Like all versions of the new Mini Cooper, this tester has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the outgoing John Cooper Works hatchback, but it is definitely missing some of the typical JCW aerodynamic parts. On the vehicle’s front end, we do see a few striking similarities to the Mini John Cooper Works concept that debuted this year at the 2014 Detroit auto show. Chiefly among these is the sporty front bumper, which shows the same larger front air intakes and three-part lower diffuser seen on the Detroit concept. Upgraded brakes with red-painted calipers also betray the prototype’s JCW underpinnings, although the car's wheels are from a standard Mini Cooper, and lack the sporty designs we expect on a JCW. Also missing on this camouflaged car are the flared side skirts, fender scoop, and matching JCW-spec rear bumper from the concept. Beneath the befuddling yellow swirls we can discern a familiar rear roof spoiler, although it is angled more downward than on the JCW concept.
The outgoing JCW hatchback featured a four-cylinder, 208-hp twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, and we expect even more performance from Mini’s latest effort. Mini will likely utilize a tuned, 231-hp version of the 2014 Mini Cooper S’s 189-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. The 231-hp BMW 225i Active Tourer, also built on BMW’s front-wheel-drive UKL architecture, is set to receive this same engine, so it wouldn't be surprising to see that engine used for a go-fast Mini.
We enjoyed pushing the 2014 Mini Cooper S on the Autobahn, praising it for its impressive braking performance and surprising muscle. "On smooth tarmac, the Mini is at its best, blending mind-boggling grip with ultrafast responses and amazing tactility," observed European bureau chief Georg Kacher. No doubt these effects will be turned up to eleven on the 2015 Mini Cooper JCW.