Mini Coupe John Cooper Works
What's it like to drive? The JCW is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that bangs out a whopping 208bhp. Predictably, it gives blistering pace: the 0-62mph dash is dealt with in just 6.4sec, and it goes on to a top speed of 149mph.
More impressive than the outright pace, though, is the engine's flexibility. It'll happily pull 30mph in sixth gear, and not long after that the engine really gets going.
Once it does, you're thrust forwards with devastating pace, with the exhaust popping and banging behind you.
Even on its own, this on-tap acceleration makes the JCW feel like a much, much sportier car than the slightly lazy diesel. However, it's not only the pace that makes the JCW more enjoyable to drive – its steering is better, too.
In the diesel, the steering's quick reactions, strong self-centring action and unpredictable weighting make the car feel decidedly twitchy in bends. The JCW's steering, though, is lighter and more consistent, so you're not constantly fighting the wheel to maintain your desired line through a bend. This means you can use the steering's lightning quickness far more effectively, making the whole car feel more accurate and more poised.
The JCW also has a firmer suspension set-up than the rest of the range, and the improved body control it gives makes the cornering even sharper. Yes, it means the ride is even firmer than the diesel's – and we already have slight concerns about how comfortable that version will be on UK roads – but, because the JCW feels so much more like a proper sports car, a hard ride is easier to forgive.
Should I buy one? At £23,795, the JCW isn't cheap, but it costs about the same as the equivalent Peugeot RCZ and quite a bit less than the equivalent VW Scirocco.
You won't lose too much of that value after three years, either – the Coupe's slinky looks, combined with the Mini brand's desirable image, virtually guarantees excellent residual values.
With fuel consumption of 39.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 165g/km, it won't be all that cheap to run, but it'll be no more expensive than the RCZ and Scirocco.
Yes, the JCW is a more hardcore proposition than either of these rivals, but if you value fun over comfort, it's well worth considering.
What Car? says