Pavement challenging power comes in the form of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine matched to a six-speed manual transmission. Push the pedal to the floor and the JCW Coupe responds with a slight snarl and a lot of zip! Speeds increase rapidly as I push through the six-speed manual gearbox. There is something about a clutch and gear lever working in harmony that still holds sway when it comes to driving two-door sports coupes.
Zero to 100 km/h reportedly takes 6.4 seconds; top speed is electronically limited at 240 km/h. But the fun is not restricted to the top end of the driving experience. Decelerating to lower speeds induces a rapturous burble as the engine reverberates through chrome-tipped dual exhaust. Ferrari and Maserati may own the world when it comes to making blissful engine sounds, but given the price point, this JCW Coupe is mighty impressive.
Rack and pinion steering is light during rush hour traffic, tightening up progressively as speed increases, and on/off ramps quickly become my own personal Nurburgring. It almost feels as though you are steering a perfectly balanced go-kart, with seating for two, solid body construction and more than enough storage space to handle a weekend getaway.
Inside, the Mini JCW Coupe highlights piano black accents, red piping on the seats and stitching around the three-spoke steering wheel. It is surprisingly roomy given the small dimensions and I quickly settle in for the seven hour drive ahead. The optional Harmon Kardon stereo adds another dimension to the art of interior design.
Our drive from Toronto to the Quebec border is not an arduous undertaking by any means but it is informative. For one thing, I quickly learn never to cross a solid white line while in rush hour traffic as a fine officer signals us over. At least he is happy to provide us with helpful advice for the rest of our trip, if only the fee was reasonable.