Some may have feared for Mini when BMW rolled in and took this British icon and modernised it, but spend 10 minutes on any major road and you'll know that the public adoration for the Mini hasn't abated.
With the John Cooper Works super-charged version tearing up roads and the Cooper S trailing not far being, Mini has introduced another hot model, the Cooper S Works 210. You guessed it, the 210 refers to the bhp, as this car neatly slides into the space between these two models.
And what a space to wiggle into, as this is Mini is a whole lot of fun to drive.
Mini Cooper S Works 210: A JCW exterior
The Cooper S Works 210 may look familiar as it rolls out wearing the John Cooper Works body kit, meaning that more aggressive front, sills and other detailing around the body, including that meaty rear spoiler hanging off the back hatch door. It cuts a meaner profile than the 3-door Cooper S, although it's the same car underneath.
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Around the back the twin central exhaust from the John Cooper Works Pro Tuning Kit is fitted by the dealer, which brings that lift from the 192bhp of the Hatch. There are some external differences from the John Cooper Works model, with the S badging staying in place, which we rather like. The Cooper S is a great car and paired here with sportier styling, it's a great overall result.
With this model, however, all that bodywork is standard, as are the black 17-inch JCW wheels.
Mini Cooper S Works 210: A Cooper S interior
Slip into the interior and things are perfectly Cooper S-like, carrying all those funky features that makes the Mini stand apart from so many conventional cars on the road. We've been running quite an affection for the Mini interior for some time. With a number of smaller cars offering interiors that lack quality or imagination the Mini stands out as distinctive. The central roundel housing the display stands out, while the driver display focuses on what's important - speed, with rpm and fuel bracketing this central display.
With space being at something of a premium, you could say that things are a bit spread out: the controls for the BMW-based infotainment system falls between the seats - hardly in your peripheral vision - and the armrest will block your access to some controls when down, but adds plenty of comfort on longer journeys. But there's heaps of character: it's more fun than the Fiesta, higher quality then the Fiat 500.
There's a hint of Golf GTI with the trim on the seats on our review model, giving a patterned finish on some of the cloth trim, but there's still a good smattering of John Cooper Works detailing on the treadplates and with the funky Bluetooth exhaust controller, that will let you switch to track mode and make the car much louder.
Those seats come as part of the Chili trim pack, and there's a full range of accessories that you can opt to add to your Mini to make it yours.
Mini Cooper S Works 210: On the road
Thumb the central start/stop toggle and the 210 will spring to life. Thanks to that exhaust this is a noisier Mini, not to the antisocial levels, but with enough of an acoustic performance to put a smile on your face. It's also a car that feels right when you drive it harder, hitting those higher revs as you speed along.
The Cooper S Works 210 has a firm ride, but carries with it that attribute that brings fun to this little car: it drives like a go-kart. The steering is immediate, the front of the car darting under your controls as you keep it tight around those small country roads. There are several driving modes and flipping to sport mode weights up the steering a little and gets you set for a racier drive, but it's perfectly fun in normal mode too, and fast enough off the line.
Paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, there's plenty of range in each of the gears, so the Mini is forgiving and easy to drive, with things precisely clicking into place as you skip up and down the range. Mini hasn't yet official revealed what the performance stats are for this car, but that hardly matters to your average driver, although we do that that CO2 emissions sit at 136g/km.
What's important is that the 210 is great fun to race around winding roads, nippier than the Cooper S, cheaper and just as good looking as the John Cooper Works. The Mini Cooper S Works 210 is exactly what you expect it to be and that's a good thing.
One of the advantages (at the time of writing), is that you can order yourself a Mini Cooper S Works 210 now and get it soon, but if you're after the John Cooper Works Mini, there's more of a waiting list.
Starting at £21,690, the Mini Cooper S Works 210 is available now.