After driving the Ford Fiesta over the weekend, it became abundantly clear that certain cars don't need endless amounts of power in order to be fun. One of my recent favorites, and a testament to twisties-over-drag-strip holistic performance, is the Mini Cooper. But the John Cooper Works package might be the first option I'd delete in our $35,000 test car.
I've never experienced torque steer in third gear before. Third. That means, after a gentle launch, and an upshift at nonthreatening levels of rpm, it's still possible for the front-wheel drive to take control at speeds of over 40 mph at the push of the throttle. Once you're pushing 200 horsepower in a lightweight, turbocharged car, you're likely going to have to put up a fight.
Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the convertible is that rearward visibility is nil, even with the top down. It sits, classic VW Beetle-style, atop the rear deck, obscuring all but semis. But driving a Mini is all about making a statement, isn't it? As if yellow paint and racing-flag mirror caps weren't enough.
The add-ons of the JCW package, unfortunately, detract from the fun of driving a car as sweet as the Cooper S.
Jeffrey Jablansky, Associate Editor