German tuner celebrates 30th anniversary with a tuning project for Mini’s flagship model

Mini may forever be known as a company that’s predisposed to quirkiness, but it did itself a lot of good by introducing the John Cooper Works, considered as the most powerful Cooper that Mini has developed in its lifetime. The debut of the Cooper JCW not only showed Mini’s willingness to engage the hot hatch market, but more importantly it proved that it could actually do it. But as good as the Cooper JCW is on the road, there’s always the potential for the car to be better. That’s where Manhart Racing, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, comes into the picture.

The German tuner saw fit to commemorate the occasion with the unveiling of the “F300” program for the Cooper JCW. In a lot of ways, the tuning kit’s main focus is to improve the hot hatch’s performance and handling credentials. In doing so, it developed a program that addressed both those things, while also giving the Cooper JCW refreshing upgrades on both the exterior and interior. The result is a fascinating take on the hot hatch that not only highlights Mini’s fascination for the off-beat but more importantly, the Cooper JCW’s understated performance capabilities that fit its status as Mini’s de facto flagship model.

The program also has a few surprises along the way, but why spoil them when you can read the whole thing for yourselves.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

  • 2016 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works F300 by Manhart Racing
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    300
  • Torque @ RPM:
    346
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    170 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works F300 by Manhart Racing High Resolution Exterior
- image 672862
Mini took care of the aero upgrades of the car, leaving Manhart Racing to concentrate on giving the hot hatch a series of cosmetic upgrades.

The Mini Cooper JCW already looks the part of a flamboyant performance hatch, a distinction it earned through all the carefully placed aerodynamic improvements that Mini gave to it. The front bumper, for instance, is already an upgrade from the standard Cooper, because of the large air inlets that are required by the uprated engine and the front brakes. In a way, Mini took care of the aero upgrades of the car, leaving Manhart Racing to concentrate on giving the hot hatch a series of cosmetic upgrades.

The tuner did just that, beginning with the color combination of the body: British Racing Green with matching gold accents and decals. The tuner also added gold racing stripes that run the length of the car and side stripes that transition into checkered flags just before the rear wheel arches. Speaking of which, Manhart also installed a new set of 19-inch, lightweight, gold alloy wheels and a number of “F300” badging throughout the car to complete its exterior package for the Cooper JCW.

Interior

2016 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works F300 by Manhart Racing High Resolution Interior
- image 672866

The brashness of Manhart’s exterior upgrade for the Cooper JCW continues in the interior where the German tuner dressed it up with generous helpings of premium leather and Alcantara. The latter material also finds its way into the steering wheel while the gold contrast stitching plays off of the similar styling on the exterior. Last but not least are the velour floor mats, which have been embroidered with Manhart’s logo for good measure.

Drivetrain

2016 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works F300 by Manhart Racing High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 672865
The result of these upgrades is an output to 300 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque

Manhart Racing cooked up a pretty sweet performance package for the Cooper JCW. Truth be told, the tuner didn’t have to do too much as it just added a new intercooler and a Remus stainless steel sports exhaust system to go with an optimized ECU unit. That’s about it. The result of these upgrades is an output to 300 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque coming out of the Cooper JCW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an increase of 69 horsepower and 110 pound-feet of torque from the Coop’s standard output of 231 ponies and 236 pound-feet of twist.

The tuner didn’t release details on the hot hatch’s performance numbers, but with the standard model capable of sprinting from 0 to 62 mph in 6.1 seconds, this tuned up Cooper JCW should be able to do the same in under six seconds. Better yet, a top speed of about 170 mph is in the cards, making it one of the most imposing Minis to hit the streets in quite some time.

Suspension

To accommodate the upgrades on the engine, the tuner also beefed up the Cooper JCW’s suspension courtesy of a KW Variant 3 coilover suspension kit that comes with its own ride height adjustment and a separately adjustable bounce and rebound control. A carbon fiber front suspension tower strut brace was also brought in to add more strength to the front end of the hot hatch to help cut down the possibility of the Cooper experiencing unnecessary torque steer.

Pricing

There’s no word yet on how much this tuning kit costs. In this instances, I’ve always found it better to simply contact the tuner directly.

Competition

Renault Clio 220 Trophy EDC by Waldow Performance

2016 Renault Clio 220 Trophy EDC by Waldow Performance
- image 672227

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Manhart Racing’s Mini Cooper JCW take on Waldow Performance’s Renault Clio 220 Trophy EDC? I’d pay to see that race happen even though Waldow didn’t actually reveal the amount of output it was able to add onto the RS 220 Trophy’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Be that as it may, it shouldn’t take away from what Waldow did to it, including the decision to wrap the body in a Smurf Blue vinyl wrap. Some aerodynamic components were also added, most notably the front and rear spoilers, as well as a new set of 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in semi-slick tires.

Now about that engine upgrade. There is one and it’s quite extensive, too. For instance, a water cooling system was integrated into the intercooler to improve its thermal stability. Waldow also added a modified engine software and an NAP sport-exhaust with sound control capabilities. These modifications should be enough to give the RS 220 Trophy a nice bump in power, but as it turned out, the tuner was still working on a modified turbocharger, downpipe, and a sport catalytic when the kit was made public. These upgrades, especially the modified turbocharger, make me think that there’s more to this kit than what Waldow is currently letting on.

Read our full review here.

Alfa Romeo 4C Centurion 1Plus By Pogea Racing

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Centurion 1Plus By Pogea Racing
- image 659282

The Alfa Romeo 4C may reside in a more premium segment than the Mini Cooper JCW, but for what it’s worth, a race between the two cars would be still be very interesting. Even more so if the Italian hatch was fitted with Pogea Racing’s “Centurion 1Plus” tuning program. That particular kit was introduced back in December 2015 and it came with a carbon fiber body kit that’s made up of a front bumper, a rear spoiler, and a diffuser. A custom rear wing was also added, helping the 4C increase downforce by an extra 77 pounds.

Under the hood, the 4C’s 1.75-liter four-cylinder engine was treated to a hefty of modification, resulting in the hot hatch improving its output to 314 horsepower and 336 pound-feet of twist. These changes allow the 4C to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds to go with a top speed of 189 mph. These numbers are right around what Manhart’s Cooper JCW is capable of so like I said, a race between the two tuned-up hot hatchbacks would be very interesting to watch.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2016 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works F300 by Manhart Racing High Resolution Exterior
- image 672861

I’m a big fan of the Mini Cooper JCW and this program is validation that affection. From the fancy two-tone body color to the improvements made on the hot hatch’s four-cylinder engine, a lot of what Manhart did speaks to the versatility of the Cooper JCW as a tuning subject.

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