We picked up our JCW MINI Coupe – SilverBeast – one week ago, so we thought it was time we put down a few of our thoughts on the car. This isn’t a TopGear or EVO style appraisal of the car’s performance, its strengths or its weaknesses as such reviews are all over the web. This is just a few thoughts put down in a rambling manner from a couple of middle aged adventurers who are delighted to have this machine in their lives.
The first thing we thought is that it will have to work hard to impress, as we have a very sexy Opel GT in our stable and a very competent MINI Clubman Cooper S. Can it compete in the looks department with the Opel GT, and will it be different enough to the Clubman to impress? We will get to those points shortly, first we have a few initial thoughts to share.
We specced the car from the ground up, colours, stripes, seats and options. We specced it well, putting the high level Harmon Kardon Hi Fi upgrade in along with the full media pack, which gives, sat nav, bluetooth, MINI Conected and voice commands. We also specced the Vision pack, the Chili pack, leather seats and heated seats. So here are some of our thoughts.
We are so glad we stuck to our guns and specified the colours we wanted. Outside the car is silver white with a chili red roof, spoiler and twin centre stripes and we have carried this theme on inside with light grey seats and trim and red door rings and front dash. The result to our eyes is both bold and classy and it really does feel like a special place to be. Heated seats (a first for us) is a delightful luxury to cap this off.
The colours are spot on and the way the exterior colours are mirrored inside is very pleasing to our eyes. We love the looks of the car too. I have explained the balance that the rear spoiler gives the car and it really does. The spoiler at the rear of the roof seems to pair with the boot spoiler in a very pleasing and purposeful way. The car looks cute in the way that Generation 1 MINIs looked cute, yet it looks purposeful too. The result is a very eye catching car. Beautiful but not in a feline way, not in an Italian sports car way but very, very pleasing nonetheless.
Well this is simply heaps of fun. Frankly I don’t know where to start, so I will have to ramble. First there are three people who live in the engine somewhere and talk to you now and again, telling you when the engine is warm, giving the game away when you hit the sport button, concurring with the wiseness of your decision to put on the bum warmers and so on. We love this. We really love this.
DAB radio and the end of lousy signals listening to the footie on a Saturday afternoon drive, is marvellous.
Sat Nav that lets you send destinations from your Mac to the car is quite simply Craig Revel Horwood A M A Z I N G!
Web radio that means we can listen to Riviera Radio in the car when we are missing being on holiday is a cool touch too.
Hands free phone calls is pretty much a given in cars these days but in my case I haven’t had that since 1988 in my beloved Citroen BX14 RE, so we are loving this option too.
Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare on the dash is still a fun novelty, but hey we like it, and seeing the song artwork when using the iPod is neat too. So having the artwork displayed, while listening to your music and having sat nav instructions pop on screen when needed, while at the same time hearing the odd comment from the car itself, is all very novel and immense fun!
Xenons which adjust their light intensity with speed and turn as you turn is very clever and in truth they work amazingly well. We had tried these in a Countryman we tested and were impressed, so we specified them and decided to keep the front of the car clean looking by not opting for extra spotlights. So far it is all good and the roads are very dark in Worcestershire!
For us a minimum standard as we have this on the Clubman as well. It’s all good.
It pops. It really pops. We love lifting off the pedal to hear it pop. Did I mention we love the popping? Handling – we are middle aged, so ask someone who might know, but we suspect that is is damned fine. What I will say is that I am sure you sit higher in it than in our Clubman. This is fine for Mrs P as she has an extra cushion in the Opel and the Clubbie but not in this. For me, I feel a bit like I am sat on a bar stool to be honest, but then I have been driving the Opel GT a lot which is a sit on the floor, feet straight out in front of you kind of a drive. I’m happy with it, but the Opel is a sports car and the Coupe is a damned fast car but not classically a sports car and as such you do not sit on the floor. Neither of us is tall, but I’m not sure how someone over 6 feet tall would feel in this car. So it’s a small car for small people then – perfect!
Compared to the Opel GT
I haven’t hammered this car, it’s done 250 miles, but no I can sense it wont quite kick as hard in the rear as the Opel does when you floor it. But, when you do floor a car, the bend appears fast and this will nip round the bend better. Not because the Opel can’t but because it is wide, it is a left hooker and this makes it so much less chuckable than the Coupe.
The Opel GT is prettier, it has eye catchingly beautiful lines, it has hips and a waist and a bust, it is a car that has shamelessly aped all the best bits of all the best supercars and packaged them together in a stunning shape, the affordable supercar, which was the aim of the original 1960s Opel GT too. Consequently, even now when it is four years old I can’t fill up with petrol without someone admiring and commenting on it.
The JCW Coupe is getting the attention too, it’s not a beauty like the Opel, but it is a looker in its own way, it looks very purposeful and quite honestly, when there are only two of you it is the most practical MINI we have ever had. The Opel is cramped, no storage space in the cabin, not much of a boot, it is a rear wheel drive, front engined, sod practical, “I’m hear to look good not wash dishes, darling” tart of a car. The Coupe, while looking focussed, is not a testosterone enriched Ferrari, instead it nods to metrosexuality, it will cook dinner for you when you get home after bringing back the shopping in its ample, practical boot. It is a Stepford beauty that is easy on the eye and easy to live with.
Compared to the Cooper S Clubman
Faster, quicker, better, sleeker, more luxurious and frankly more practical, unless you want to drive around with a pair of ladders in the back. This sounds harsh on the Clubman but its not like that. On its own the Clubman is fast, quick, luxurious and practical. It is good looking too, especially the way we have dressed it with stripes, side skirts, lowered suspension, big black alloys and so on.The ride is also harsher than the Coupes, due perhaps to its 18″ wheels. On the other hand, the Coupe is a very noisy car, noisier than the Clubman and we suspect this is because of the lightweight roof. The Clubman then is a great, great car. Ultimately though, the JCW Coupe adds the “er” to all the adjectives and in the end the “quicker” and “faster” are noticeable enough to justify its presence in the Beastie stable.
One week in then and we are totally smitten ‘Nuff said.