7 September 2021

MINI JCW Hatch 2021 Car Review

There aren’t too many two-door hot hatches available in the market today, but the MINI JCW Hatch is one that remains. It offers a pleasant soundtrack via the exhaust, a go-kart-like driving feel and some great looks to boot.


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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021
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MINI JCW Hatch 2021

In July, MINI reported a whopping 44.7 per cent growth in sales year-to-date, proving that New Zealand still love these small cars.

This year has seen significant changes across the MINI range, and this is the smallest of the bunch. The MINI JCW Hatch starts from $62,300 (drive away).

Small car, big character

The overall effect of the latest generation of MINI upgrades is one of reduced fuss, but with increased purity of identity. “The new MINI design is more modern, fresher and clearer,” said Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design.

“All innovations follow a common mission: Purify MINI!  Less complexity, more individuality.”

Our review car was inspired for the track, but ready for the road. It had the ‘Classic’ trim spec, meaning it was adorned in Rooftop Grey metallic, one of three new colours alongside Island Blue Metallic and Zesty Yellow (although the latter is only available for the MINI Convertible at the time of introduction). 

Black is the new chrome

Piano Black Exterior touches now extend to the door handles, side scuttles, fuel cap, along with the MINI logos on the bonnet and luggage compartment lid, and model lettering and tailpipes of the exhaust system. The surrounds of the headlights, radiator grille and rear lights are also darkened.

The redesigned interior is sophisticated, modern and of particularly high quality. The number of chrome elements has been significantly reduced throughout the interior. The two outer round air outlets are now framed by black panels.

A new sports leather steering wheel becomes standard across the MINI Hatch and Convertible range for 2021, with redesigned keypads that ease the operation of telephone, audio and driver assistance systems. The cool new five-inch digital LCD instrumentation screen first seen on the MINI Electric Hatch is now applied across the range, which actually moves up and down along with the steering wheel adjustment.

An 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display now features touch-sensitive favourite buttons and Piano Black high-gloss surfaces. In addition to this, a new surface design with laser engraving updates the appearance of the LED colour-changing ring which surrounds the central instrument display.

New generation Adaptive Suspension

Spontaneous power delivery, precise steering, powerful brakes and spirited handling are all key features of MINI’s signature go-kart driving experience. A new version of MINI’s Adaptive Suspension now elevates handling to a new level.

An additional valve acting on the traction side takes over the task of smoothing out sudden pressure peaks within the damper. Damper force is adjusted within 50 to 100 milliseconds and, depending on the driving situation and road conditions, the damping forces can be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

This all significantly increases ride comfort and handling when compensating for slight bumps in the road, whilst maintaining the sporty characteristics of the damping when turning into a corner, for example.

The drive

We were able to test the car for an extended amount of time over a variety of situations, including the daily commute and some cruising over the weekend.

Despite only having two doors, installing a car seat was easy enough, and rear legroom wasn’t as bad as you might think.

We enjoyed the exhaust note, particularly in Sport mode, which also intensified the sound of changing gears. Standard mode offered a much calmer driving experience, albeit with sporty undertones. Our car had some stylish 18-inch JCW Course light alloy wheels donned in low profile tyres, which reduced ride comfort slightly.

To further enhance the overall driving experience, MINI’s new digital instrumentation is customisable, and changes the mood lighting in the car to match the driving mode.

The MINI JCW Hatch has a fuel efficiency rating of 6.3L/100km, and a CO2 fuel efficiency rating of 143g/km.

Show your true colours

Contrasting colours for the roof and side mirror caps are some of the striking design features that have set the MINI brand apart when it comes to customisation. In addition to the Jet Black, Aspen White and Melting Silver paintwork, as well as Chili Red for the John Cooper Works range, a new and innovative world-first Multi-tone Roof will now be offered for the MINI 3-door and the MINI 5-door.

A colour gradient from San Marino Blue through to Pearly Aqua and Jet Black extends from the windscreen frame to the rear, applied one after the other in a wet-on-wet painting process. This paint finish, known as Spray Tech, is fully integrated into the mechanised production process at the MINI Oxford plant in the UK.

Sadly the model we reviewed wasn’t kitted out with this upgrade, but from what we’ve seen it looks great.

A new MINI App

The new MINI App offers an advanced user experience that is completely oriented towards a digital lifestyle. It allows drivers to connect to their MINI at any time, to call up information on the car‘s status or to prepare the next excursion.

Interactive functions can vary from checking fuel or charge status remotely, or locking/unlocking the doors via Remote Services. One can also send navigation information straight to the car using the app. Servicing appointments can be arranged, and model-specific features like charging process on the MINI Electric Hatch can be controlled remotely. 

Safety

Back in 2014, the MINI Hatch was awarded a 4-star ANCAP crash test based on the safety features available as standard across the range at the time.

The JCWH is equipped with Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control, which didn’t feature in the previously crash tested model.

What else is out there?

Volkswagen removed the two-door Polo in 2017 when the sixth-gen was introduced in a five-door guise only. Ford also doesn’t bring the two-door Fiesta ST to the NZ market, and the unique Veloster has disappeared from Hyundai’s line-up.

The fantastic Fiat Abarth 595 is one worthy competitor, available from around $40,000. Toyota also has the new GR Yaris, but it’s currently out of stock.

Looking out for the future

MINI is committed to creating sustainable cars that still offer the driving experience that MINI is famous for.

MINI is also looking towards the future, and is set to drop leather upholstery and use vegan friendly interiors in near future. MINI has also outlined that it aims to become a fully electric brand by 2030.

Overall it’s a really fun and engaging car to drive on the open road.

At a glance

Models

MINI JCW Hatch

Engine

2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol

Price

From $66,300 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating

4 Star (2014)

Power and Torque

170kW, 320Nm

Transmission

Eight-speed sports auto

Fuel economy/CO2

6.3L/100km, 143g/km

Towing capacity

N/A

2WD/4WD/AWD

2WD (Front)

Seating capacity

4

Luggage capacity/payload

211 litres

Safety systems

  • Six airbags
  • Dynamic Stability and Traction Control
  • ABS
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Corner Braking Control
  • City Crash Mitigation & Pedestrian Detection
  • Electronic Diff Locking Control
  • Forward Collision Warning

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