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Mini Cooper S Works

More power and performance, but for a price

Jared Holstein
Nov 25, 2003
Photographer: Jared Holstein
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If you'd rather lick a New York City subway seat than learn about John Cooper and the storied motorsports history of his company, skip the next six paragraphs. But we're warning you, you're missing interesting stuff.

At age 15, John Cooper practically invented the mid-engine racecar with his friend Eric Brandon. The two created the single-seater Cooper 500 from two old Fiat Topolino front ends, powered it with a JAP motorcycle engine, and changed motoracing forever.

The car's success, thanks to its unique mid-engine design and low price encouraged John and his father Charles to form the Cooper Car Company in the late 1940s.

A few years later, the Coopers built a rear-engine Formula 2 car, which was so small, light and well-balanced, it challenged the front-engine Formula 1 cars on the winding European circuits. Then in 1958, Stirling Moss drove a baby Cooper to the first-ever World Championship victory for a rear-engine car, and in 1959 and 1960, the Cooper Car Company won consecutive Formula 1 Constructor's World Championships.

In 1961, John took his mid-engine car to Indianapolis to compete against the much larger front-engine roadsters. With F1 star Jack Brabhan driving, the car finished ninth, but the die was cast. By 1962, every car on the Formula 1 grid had its engine behind the driver, and in 1965 a rear-engine, Ford-powered Lotus won the Indianapolis 500.

Other accomplishments include the Mini Cooper, which debuted in 1961, and eventually won four consecutive Monte Carlo rallies from 1964 to 1967, and a long list of performance parts and engine-tuning kits for the original Mini in the 1980s.

Although John Cooper died in 2000, the company he started with his dad is still going strong, and it's still tuning Minis. Only now, it's tuning the new MINI and John's son Mike is running the show.

Don't feel guilty, we probably would have skipped ahead, too.

The 200-hp MINI Cooper S Works is basically an in-house hot-rodded MINI you can buy at any MINI dealer. And it comes with a full four-year, 50,000-mile warranty and financing.

Here's the deal: Walk into any MINI dealer and choose the Cooper S you want. Hopefully, it's not the yellow one with the white roof and white wheels.

Then tell your salesman you want the John Cooper Works tuning kit, which includes a new cylinder head with 15 percent more flow, a new supercharger with an abradable rotor coating with ceramic particles so it creates a better seal as it beds in, a smaller blower pulley that raises boost from 0.7 bar to 1.0 bar, colder spark plugs, a new cat-back stainless-steel exhaust system, assorted badging and a reprogrammed ECU. The dealer then installs the kit, you pay an additional $4,500 (plus installation) on top of the sticker price of the Cooper S, and before you know it, you're out cruising for chicks in the quickest MINI you can buy from the factory.

If you already have a Cooper S, which is factory rated at 163 hp, don't get down on yourself. The kit can be installed on any existing Cooper S, at which time, the balance of the factory warranty remains in effect.

Because we've run several MINIs through our slalom, skidpad and brakes tests before, and the suspension and brakes on the Works car are unchanged, we decided not to test its handling. Instead, we limited our testing to the chassis dyno and dragstrip to see if the additional $4,500-plus really does buy performance.

The answer is yes, and it's apparent the first time you mash the throttle. The MINI's tall first gear still keeps it from rocketing off the line like a Dodge SRT-4, but you no longer have to wait for the tach to reach 3500 rpm to get going. Check the dyno chart; there's more torque and more horsepower from 2000 rpm all the way up to 7000 rpm and it's noticeable, especially in the midrange.

And at the dragstrip, it translated to quicker times. Despite a newly paved and still-slick launch pad, which we think caused a slower 0-to-30 mph time of 3.0 seconds (the last Cooper S we test ran it in 2.9 seconds), this yellow Cooper Works out-dragged the last Cooper S we tested by a significant margin.

Certainly helped by its lighter 16-inch wheels and lack of a sunroof, this car hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 7.1 seconds, and finished the quarter mile in 15.2 seconds at 92.4 mph. The last S we tested, which wore 17-inch wheels and had a sunroof, needed 7.4 seconds to reach 60 mph and it completed the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 90.4 mph. By the way, MINI says the Works car accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds.

So Mike Cooper should be proud of his car and John Cooper should be proud of his son. We're proud of MINI for delivering a package that really does perform, which isn't always the case.

Now go back and read the first five paragraphs, you lazy bum.

Mini Cooper S Works
Estimated Price: $25,000 est.
Engine
Type:Inline four, iron block, aluminum head, supercharged and intercooled
Valvetrain:DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 1598cc
Bore x Stroke:85.8mmx77.0mm
Compression Ratio:8.3:1
Claimed Crank Hp:200 hp @ 6950 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque: 177 lb-ft @ {{{4000}}} rpm
Measured Wheel Hp:174 hp @ 6900 rpm
Measured Wheel Torque:159 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Redline:7000 rpm
Drivetrain
Layout:Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission:Six-speed manual
Gear Ratios (Overall, including final drive)
1:11.425:1
2:7.181:1
3:5.397:1
4:4.407:1
5:3.656:1
6:2.986:1
Differential:Open
Chassis
Exterior Dimensions
Measured Curb Weight:2,{{{720}}} lb
Overall Length:143.9 in.
Wheelbase:97.1 in.
Overall Width:66.5 in.
Track F/R:{{{57}}}.2 in./57.5 in.
Height:56.2 in.
Suspension
Front:MacPherson strut, anti-roll bar
Rear:Trailing arms with upper and lower semi-trailing camber/toe control links
Brakes
Front:10.9-in. vented discs, single-piston sliding calipers
Rear:10.2-in. vented discs, single-piston sliding calipers
Electronic Driving Aids/Inhibitors:ABS, electronic throttle, stability control (with off switch)
Wheels and Tires
Wheels:16x7-in. aluminum
Tires:195/55R-17 Michelin
Performance
Acceleration
0-30 mph:3.0 sec.
0-60 mph:7.1 sec.
30-50 mph:2.5 sec.
50-70 mph:3.6 sec.
Quarter-Mile Time:15.2 sec.
Quarter-Mile Speed:92.4 mph
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By Jared Holstein
25 Articles

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