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Looking Back At Our JCW Checkmate

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I have an itch, a real yearning and it is to own a Generation 1 MINI GP. For some reason we missed on getting this car first time round and instead plumped for a MINI Checkmate S Works.

To be fair CheckBeast as we named him was a very special car. A Checkmate limited edition given the Works treatment to enjoy 210 HP on tap. The car also benefitted from the JCW suspension and a mechanical limited slip differential. A works spoiler on the rear and 4 spots on the front gave it the appropriate looks and in truth it was a damned fun car to drive. Eventually we exchanged it for ClubBeast a very sexy looking pepper white and black Cooper S Clubman, which we went on to have a lot of fun with. However clutch issues sullied the experience a bit and when the Elf lay claim to our faithful red Cooper CooperBeast the way was paved for us to return to Works ownership with our MINI Coupe JCW. This has turned out to be a stunningly satisfying car to drive and the ClubBeast if I’m honest became a poor relation. Fast but not as fast, nimble, but not as nimble and while it could carry more stuff it wasn’t as handy as the hatch on the Coupe for supermarket shopping and so on. The writing was on the wall and we changed it for a Paceman SD. Now this is a delight for us and compliments the JCW Coupe perfectly. It doesn’t try to be as fast and furious its 2 litre diesel block delivering power in a very different way, but in the real world it is a comfortable, competent and fun car to be in and the semi command driving position is a joy and again completely different to the Coupe. Yep we have a perfect pair of MINIs.

A generation 1 GP for Sundays though would be nice, it has a supercharger and when new was 2/10ths of a second quicker than the Coupe, hitting 0-62 in 6.2seconds. It has a real fun factor and what do you want in a sporty car apart from fun? Yep in a perfect world our pair of MINIs needs to be a trio!

So here I am sharing some pictures of a beloved MINI Checkmate Works that got me hooked on superchargers. Hope you like them and forgive me my sadness as I lament the lack of a Generation 1 GP in my life…

 Source: Steve Walker Yahoo Cars

You Won’t Need To Be A Chess Grand Master To Appreciate the Appeal of the MINI Cooper S Checkmate Special Edition.

Chess, a cerebral duel of concentration and intellect, men in bad suits hunched over pieces on a board, transfixed, their minds exploring endless scenarios. Moves can take hours, games can take days inactivity is the norm. MINI’s Cooper S is a fiery hot hatchback. It supplies fun by the barrow load, speed, dynamism, excitement, style.

It’s an instant gratification machine. The Cooper S and chess couldn’t really be any further apart, though a special edition derivative of the car does provide a tenuous connection. It’s called Checkmate.

The name is where any link between the MINI Cooper S Checkmate and the game of chess ends. Except, perhaps, that MINI will hope the Checkmate can help them claim victory in the hot hatchback market, placing rivals in an inescapable fix. The car is a version of the 170bhp supercharged Cooper S with a series of styling accessories added. Part of the appeal of the MINI is the ability for buyers to personalise their car with the wide range optional trimmings that are available and all the Checkmate does is offer a fully accessorised Cooper S at a reasonable price.

That price, by the way, is £17,635 and its significantly more than the £15,495 you pay for a standard Cooper S model. Many of the cars that roll off dealers forecourts, however, change hands for well above £16,000 once the customer has been seduced by the contents of that glossy options brochure. In this context, the Checkmate doesn’t look bad value. It features exclusive Space Blue metallic paint with Checkmate chequered decals on each wing just behind the front wheel arches whether these represent a chess board or a chequered flag is open to debate.

17″ Flame alloy wheels also serve to spice-up the exterior and there are silver mirror caps that tie-in nicely with a roof which is decked out in the same colour. The Checkmate also does away with the MINI Coopers traditional bonnet stripes in favour of a giant U-shaped decal which highlights the Cooper S trademark letterbox bonnet scoop. Lighting is well catered for with xenon headlamps and a set of fog lights at the front.

“All the Checkmate does is offer an already accessorised Cooper S at a reasonable price”

Inside, there are further additions to the standard trim. The Checkmate benefits from special Checkmate cloth and leather interior trim, a three-spoke sports leather steering wheel, floor mats (so there’ll be no haggling with the salesman for those), passenger seat height adjustment, the storage compartment pack, manual air-conditioning, an on-board computer and the interior lights pack. The Checkmate package is largely cosmetic but one feature that will appeal to people also interested in the cars performance is the limited slip differential. This is available as an option on the standard Cooper S and it works to enhance the cars driving dynamics by directing torque to the wheel that is best able to deploy it onto the road.

This helps powerful front-wheel-drive cars achieve greater traction under acceleration and boost handling fluidity. The MINI Cooper S Checkmate is certainly powerful. 170bhp is still a highly respectable output even in the current power-crazed hot hatchback climate and it’s an exceptional amount of shove to draw from a 1.6-litre engine.

That supercharged power plant is capable of catapulting the car from rest to sixty in 7.2s on the way to 138mph. All of which would be useless were the basic car to be incapable of capitalising on all that power. But of course it is.

If you’ve driven a standard MINI, then you’ll already know about the excellence of the standard chassis: so good in fact that it would have been a waste not to further exploit the whole set-up. The Cooper S package does that brilliantly. Clamber underneath and you’ll spot BMWs Z-axle multi-link rear suspension, now made even more responsive with reinforced anti-roll bars on both axles and firmer springs that balance the increased engine output and lower the cars centre of gravity. This produces optimum road contact and cuts down on the kind of body roll you get when taking bends at speed.

The excellent weight distribution (63% on the front wheels and 37% on the rear) also helps here. The first thing many will notice about the interior will still be the centrally mounted speedometer, although look closer and you’ll see a feature unique to the Cooper S a six speed gearbox. Otherwise, the interior isn’t far removed from the other MINI models and that’s no bad thing. Access to the rear is still horrendous, although the laughable boot of the original Mini has been replaced by a more practical hatchback arrangement capable of carrying a decent amount of luggage.

Some rather cheap silver-painted plastics are used in the interior, as the original aluminium fittings were ditched on the grounds of cost. Still, what’s important is that under the skin, the Cooper S boasts all the post-millennial must-haves, including ABS, CBC (cornering brake control) and EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution). In addition to this, BMWs lauded ASC+T (a combined traction control system) is included. Unfortunately, the DSC Dynamic Stability Control system is a pricey extra which should be standard.

All right, so the MINIs chassis is very good but in this car, you’ll soon develop such confidence behind the wheel that ridiculous cornering appears on the agenda sooner than you may at first credit. The MINI Cooper S Checkmate is a handy solution for buyers who want an up-spec MINI Cooper S but would rather not trawl through the never-ending range of MINI accessories picking out the ones they would like. The car looks the part and is hard to fault mechanically. It should deliver fun in abundance along with that cheeky style that sets MINI apart from the pack.

Pricing also looks sensible, so you won’t need to be a chess grand master to understand the appeal of this Checkmate.


CAR: MINI Cooper S Checkmate special edition

PRICE: £17,635 – on the road


CO2 EMISSIONS: 202g/km

PERFORMANCE: Max Speed 138mph / 0-60mph 7.2s

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 24.8mpg (urban) / 41.5mpg (extra urban) / 33.6mpg (combined)

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front and side airbags, ASC+T, ABS with EBD

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 3626/1925/1396mm

And Then We Gave It The WORKS Treatment

Source: Andy Enright Yahoo Cars

We Loved The First MINI Cooper S Works Edition And The Latest Version Ups The Ante Still Further.
There’s an age old saying in boxing circles that a good big un will always beat a good little un. It doesn’t always hold true however, especially when you’re driving the Goodwood race circuit in a 400bhp BMW M5 and trying to shake a 210bhp MINI Cooper S Works from your tail. Down each of the Goodwood circuits straights, the M5 could inch inexorably away but through each twisty section, the MINI would close the gap back, registering an identical lap time to the German super saloon. It’s safe to say that this very special hot hatch punches well above its weight.

When the MINI was first launched, you could choose between the sedate One and the Cooper, which provided a touch more by way of pep – but not too much. Sales soared but word on the street was that there was more to come from the MINI chassis. Much more. Sure enough, in summer 2002 we got our first glimpse of a MINI with an intriguing letterbox-shaped aperture in its bonnet: the MINI Cooper S had arrived, bringing supercharged performance and transforming the warmed-over runabout into a genuine hot hatch contender. This model really caught the imagination of the MINI fanatics and it flew out of the showrooms but forced induction only opened the door to a whole host of go-faster masters to offer performance upgrades for the Cooper S. Only one of them is backed by the factory and it’s the real deal. John Cooper Garages boosted the cars power output from a respectable 163bhp to a decidedly hairy chested 200bhp.

An instant hit, this model beat cars like the Audi RS6, Ferrari 360 Modena and Porsche 911 in Auto Express magazines Greatest Drives of 2003 test. There were however, a few who grumbled that given the additional expense over the Cooper S, there really needed to be a little more power. After all, the MINI is an inherently heavy car, and even with 200bhp on tap, the £18,000+ Cooper S Works wasn’t significantly quicker than a £16,000 Honda Civic Type-R.

“With 210bhp on tap, this MINI can face down some serious sporting machinery”

Realising that the gripers possibly had a point and that the MINI chassis could certainly cope with even more power, a revised John Cooper Works offering was quickly prepared at the company’s West Sussex Garages base. In addition to the existing Works package, there’s a freer flowing air filter with an inlet flap that opens above 4,500rpm so that the engine can gasp great lungfuls of cold air, injectors that will throw correspondingly large slugs of unleaded into the cylinders and a tweak to the engines electronic control unit that together add up to another 10bhp. Even without gunning the car from cold, it’s easy to notice the sharper throttle response and the way that the revised gear ratios mesh better with the engines power delivery. One criticism of the old car was that when accelerating from a standing start, it took a few seconds for the engine to really plug into the meat of the power curve.

In those first few seconds, decisive advantages are lost, especially on a race track with slow chicanes to interrupt the flow. The latest Cooper S still doesn’t give an instant low-down wallop, but as long as the car can deploy its power cleanly, it’s no longer quite so breathless. Traction, however, is an issue in a front wheel drive car with this much grunt. Give the Cooper S Works the full treatment off the line and you’ll see the traction control light blinking furiously.

In the wet, it’s even more pronounced, with even moderate getaways from T-junctions and roundabout entrances provoking the electronic nanny into action. It’s an unusual entity, the Cooper S Works. Not strictly speaking a model in its own right, its more an upgrade package for the Cooper S devised by MINIs perennial partners in crime at John Cooper Works, but the work is now done on MINIs Oxford line for an extra £3,600 on top of the £15,495 asked for a Cooper S. So, what does that additional outlay get you? Aesthetically, you’re looking at special Works 18″ alloy wheels and a particularly fetching set of Works sports seats. Not to mention the John Cooper Works badging liberally smattered around the car. Of much more importance is the havoc that the John Cooper tuning kit wreaks under the MINIs skin. Top speed becomes a rapid 143mph and the 0-60mph time is lowered to 6.4 seconds: you’ll also get impressive in-gear performance thanks to 181lb/ft of torque at 4,500rpm. The good news for existing Works Kit owners is that they won’t need to chop their car in if they want the full quota of 210bhp. Instead they can have an upgrade fitted (new air filter intake system, injectors and calibration) at John Cooper Works, or any other official MINI dealer, at a cost of £335 (inc. VAT) + one hours labour fitting time.

Both the new kit and upgrade are fully approved by MINI which means that vehicle warranty and MINI tlc service pack remain unaffected. Granted, they won’t get the benefits of the revised gearbox, but for the additional power, it looks money well spent. After all, it’s not just a backyard hop up kit. Every component of the John Cooper Works is the result of years of development work and innumerable road tests.

The gutsy performance and first-class handling are testament to 150,000 road miles of durability testing and 20,000 miles of high-speed testing undertaken by experienced and exacting engineers. It has been put through its paces in 35-degree heat and a freezing minus 20 degrees. Few of us require many excuses to get behind the wheel of a MINI Cooper S and the Works edition makes the experience even more intense. With 210bhp on tap and the option of suspension and brake upgrades also offered, this MINI is not cheap, but you get what you pay for.

Will it succeed? Let’s just say that it has better than a punchers chance.

CheckBeast Specification

General Spec.

Mini Cooper S Works 1.6 16 valve 210 bhp. 0-62mph 6.6 seconds. 230km/h top speed.

17″ Flame alloys with Pirelli Euphoria 205/40/17 tyres.

Automatic Stability Control + Traction (ASC+T).

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS).

Cornering Brake Control (CBC).

JCW Disc Brakes all round – ventilated at front.

JCW Suspension

Electronic Braking System (EBD).

Interior Spec.

Space Blue and silver half leather seats, with sports front seats.

Height adjustable front seats.

Lockable Glove box.

Trip Computer.

Floor mats.

Manual air conditioning.

Single cd player with Boost option.

Two tone leather Multi-function steering wheel (cruise control and remote hi-fi controls).

Auxiliary input.

Interior light package (reading lights/illuminated vanity mirrors and footwells), door puddle lights.

Anthracite Headlining.

Space blue colour coded dash inserts.

Exterior Spec.

JCW Carbon Fibre rear spoiler

Special edition space blue metallic paint with silver roof.

Xenon headlamps.

Front fog lights.

Silver bonnet stripes with matching bonnet scoop.

Checkmate decals to each side and Checkmate badges to rear of each door.

Twin flag badge – union and chequered flags.

Engine and Performance

JCW Suspension

Limited Slip Differential

JCW Strut Brace

Author: ibeastie

Interested in Photography, Watches, Style and Cars

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