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New MINI John Cooper Works hot hatch confirmed: petrol or ‘JCW E’ electric power

A choice of powertrains will be available for hottest new MINI – with a hardcore MINI Cooper GP variant potentially possible too…

MINI will bring back its John Cooper Works hot hatch line for the newly released fifth-generation model in both petrol and electric form from next year, according to the brand's head of product line, Dr Stefan Floeck.

Speaking to Auto Express at the reveal of the all-new MINI Cooper and Countryman at the Munich Motor Show, Floeck said that, “We'll come up with the John Cooper Works next year for the combustion engine and from the beginning of 2025 we will electrify John Cooper Works – John Cooper Works E. One is delivering its power through electric and the other through combustion.”

As per the petrol Cooper and the Cooper Electric, the two JCW variants will be based on different platforms but Floeck says the engineering team will focus heavily on tuning to ensure the models retain MINI's trademark 'go-kart' handling regardless of powertrain – although the two cars' driving dynamics will be subtly different due to certain characteristics, such as the extra weight in the EV.

“When it comes to the go-kart feeling this is pretty similar and it's amazing,” Floeck said. “I already drove both cars and they do feel different – [like the Cooper] the combustion-engined car is a little bit faster in the maximum velocity, but in acceleration it's not as good.

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Floeck outlined that an EV platform can be the basis of a car that’s fun to drive, with “the centre of gravity lower because you have the battery in the bottom.” Adding that “the second thing is good weight distribution. On the other side you have a little higher weight, so to deal with this it's a question of wider tyres in terms of driving dynamics.”

While Floeck referenced front-wheel drive for the electric JCW, he stopped short of confirming this when asked wether a decision had been made on whether the JCW E would be two or four-wheel drive: “Today, if the JCW will be two or four-wheel drive is not confirmed. The platform allows for dual-motor variants but it depends on wether there is customer demand. If there is a possibility and, if you ask me, I would love to do it.”

Floeck is looking beyond JCW as MINI's performance flagship too – at least conceptually. Asked if MINI's hottest GP branding could return with this fifth-generation car he said: “We are working on it. Trust me. The car Charlie Cooper raced at the 24 hours, I raced it last year. I'm a racing guy, so I'm working on the GP, trust me.

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“For me it's very important that with turning MINI from combustion to electric, John Cooper Works doesn't die. It's the opposite. John Cooper Works will grow. This is important because MINI the brand is very easy, it's love and green and it's racing, and that's why this is a very clear strategy for us.”

MINI JCW E spy shots

We've already grabbed these spy shots of the MINI JCW E in development. Camouflage covers the entirety of the exterior body panels but we can clearly see that the grille low down on the front bumper has gained a new shape compared to the same part on the standard car. The faux grille higher up will probably take on a new design. 

As with JCW MINIs in the past, there should be some exclusive paint finishes and accents to signify this is the sportier offering, a set of bespoke alloy wheels will also help the JCW stand out. To the rear there’s a larger roof spoiler, a new diffuser look to the rear bumper and a larger rear reflector behind the rear wheels. 

Entry-level electric Cooper Electric models utilise a 40kWh battery, with higher-specification SE versions upping this to 54kWh. We don’t expect that MINI will offer a separate battery just for the JCW so the 54kWh unit should be used here. We also expect that, to keep it in contention with the rivals like the Abarth 500e and the production version of the Alpine A290_ß concept, a power figure comfortably north of 200bhp. 

This isn’t the first time MINI has toyed with the idea of a JCW-badge electric model. Back in 2020 the firm announced an all-electric John Cooper Works was in development and in 2021 there was the MINI Electric Pacesetter - a safety car for Formula E. MINI boss at the time, Bernd Korber, said the Pacesetter “does reveal one of the directions we could take with the electrification of the JCW brand”. He also said “we have to go and define JCW in an electrified context and era. But that’s possible, there’s no problem, no contradiction”.

Click here for our list of the fastest electric cars in the world...

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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