How to Save JCW

Discussion in 'MINI News and Articles' started by Nathan, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    #1 Nathan, Jul 1, 2010
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    Given the debut this week of the revised JCW, it seemed an appropriate time to take a step back and talk about the JCW line and how MINI could create something truly exceptional for the future. Yes there are a few nice changes to the 2011 model, but the profound additions we had hoped for (a year and a half ago) haven’t truly come to fruition. So let’s talk about how to fix things.

    John. Cooper. Works. When I first learned about MINIs, these three words meant the direct lineage from the man who brought mid-engine cars to Formula 1 racing and tuned the BMC Mini to new heights. In 2008, it was announced that BMW was outright purchasing JCW in order to create a sub-brand within MINI akin to the M-division within BMW.

    Unfortunately, the output has been less than impressive. Because JCW is owned by BMW now there’s an interesting new problem: overlap. Why would a customer buy a tricked-out JCW car when they could spend a fraction more and get the ferocious RWD 135i? And with a shared platform coming for the next-gen cars, the so-called ‘0-series’ will be an attractive option for those who want the prestige of a roundel instead of wings and a JCW ’surfboard’.

    So with that said, let’s talk about how to fix things. We’ve got two ideas on how JCW could become legendary.

    Make JCW more like //M

    The M division prides itself on creating the best possible versions of BMW models utilizing the best technology available. They create automobiles that use the existing platforms but taken to the next level with styling and chassis changes. It’s clear that this is the direction that MINI decided to push towards with the JCW cars representing the top tier of the models (Cooper, Cooper S, JCW). The difference between //M and JCW is that JCW cut corners with the R56 cars. Big time. If the JCW GP represents the high water mark in MINI factory modifications, the JCW R56 doesn’t live up to its forebear. Each generation of //M-car proves its worth by one-upping the last one and with the latest JCW should do likewise.

    But if JCW is to be equivalent to //M, MINI needs to make the cars more distinctive in look, add more standard options and tune them to be much faster. That means including the JCW suspension, getting the Recaro seats approved by the DOT, Alcantara steering wheel for no extra charge, carbon fiber trim standard… the ‘W’ in JCW stands for Works. The way things are right now is more like ordering and paying for a pizza with everything on it and when the delivery guy shows up he hands you a pie with peppers and sausage. No matter how delicious that pizza is, it’s not what you were told you were getting.

    Basic Tenants of the //M-like JCW:

    * Big performance enhancement
    * Impressive standard feature sheet
    * Distinctive sheet metal

    Make JCW cars more unique and lightweight.

    MINI has been an extremely unique company since it was introduced in that the cars are seemingly infinitely customizable. The prospective owner can add whatever features and knick knacks to the car and order it that way. JCW could take things one step further and make cars completely to order.

    I think the key lies in weight loss and offering individually hand built cars. Options could include A/C delete, aluminum roof, rear seat delete, stereo delete, sound deadening delete… etc.

    The entry-level car could be more like today’s factory JCW car with all the options but with a carbon fiber hood and a full JCW kit (engine, suspension, exhaust, intake). And how about this for an idea– automatic sport mode. It’s up to the customer to add or subtract from there.

    This idea would take the JCW brand away from the impressive technological improvements that the M-division makes with its cars and towards a more Colin Chapman-like ethos. I feel that this solution could make the brand different enough from the low-end BMWs to negate comparison based on price and specs. It also lowers the necessity for the cars’ performance having to be really huge because of the weight difference. With an emphasis on light weight and extra HP, JCW could keep it real by shaving off every extra ounce from their cars. I feel that it could take JCW out of direct comparison with the Volkswagen R cars, the Audi S3, the Subaru STi and the Mazdaspeed 3 and place it in a category closer to Lotus.

    Basic Tenants of the Chapman-school JCW

    * Effective but measured performance improvements
    * Individually hand-built and numbered
    * Emphasis on light weight and the option to strip the car to near bare bones

    In the end, I’m counting on BMW to go with the first option. But I feel that the comparisons to other high-po compact cars is problematic and detrimental to the JCW image. The second direction that I dreamed up is much more compelling to me because it truly could cast JCW cars into a new image. It shows a lineage with the JCW GP and, more importantly, the JCW GP car which to me is still the halo car for the brand. But, things are about to get even more interesting given the involvement of Prodrive with the Countryman and perhaps a new injection of racing heritage into the MINI brand (I wrote about it here for MF).

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  2. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    They may be waiting to use the coupe for those profound additions, but remember profound additions is spelled with $$$$, which leads to the question of just what price point will be too much for MINI?

    Ergo the new BMW based on a MINI platform they have been talking about and some are calling the ZERO......

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  3. versus

    versus Active Member

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    Good read. The bigger question to me is buy a JCW now or wait for BMW to get the hint?

    Edit* I hope any new changes will be applied across the board. Meaning, I'd like to see more punch in the hatch and couple versions, when they drop.
     
  4. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    BMW has been developing and it is almost complete, a 2.0 liter Turbocharged motor.... ;)

    300 HP off the shelf! Add what Jan will be able to tune out of it and you would be looking at somewhere near 350hp without any hard parts!

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  5. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like it's a choice between a //MINI and a Cooper RS. BMW adds more power and a tighter suspension while charging more, and Porsche reduces weight and bumps up top end power while charging more. But don't hold your breath. People have been asking for lighter, faster M3's ever since the E36 M3 made its way over to this side of the pond.
     
  6. lotsie

    lotsie Club Coordinator

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    Trust me, if ANY car manufacture where to change to OEM wood spoke wheels clad in steel, and pulled by 2 Yaks they would charge more.

    Change=$$$ even small change.

    Mark
     
  7. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    Exactly what most thought the 135 was going to be but didn't turn out that way.... 135 less about 400 pounds and they would be selling them faster than they could make them, but alas it is just too close to the three in price and weight to really stand out on it's own. Nice car though.

    Now if MINI were to come out with the coupe in all wheel drive, the new 2 liter motor and well under 3000 pounds... MINI would be spelled MISSILE!!!!!

    But the price might require a Roundel to be marketable in numbers....
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  8. Rixter

    Rixter Well-Known Member

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    Good points Nate but I think that somehow they have to keep the prices in line with what a JCW truly is, a fun to drive, unique, sporty run-about. Beken recently was at our local dealership and snapped a price list spec from a WC50. Nearly $58K (Canajun) pre-tax. That's insane for a MINI :eek6:

    IMHO
     

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  9. Dr Obnxs

    Dr Obnxs New Member

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    Some other thoughts...

    about why it's not going to happen.

    Minis are expensive as is. Adding more low volume parts will only make it more expensive. Ever wonder why the JCW mill isn't getting the standard engine upgrades? I'm guessing it's because the volume doesn't justify the effort. They'd never get the money back.

    Even though it's not stated, it seems obvious to me that BMW is choosing to artificially stratify the market. If the JCW became too good, it would tread on BMW market space. Even though I'd guess that what overlap between the buyers of the two marks is small, it seems that it's still there. There are hints of this in a MotoringFile post about a future shared platform, where brand distinction is done through SW and the like. BMW gets high end connected feel, MINI gets second best....

    I don't think we'll ever see a 300 HP I4 Turbo in a MINI. At least not from a the factory! Remember that MINI is what delivers a lot of the fleet efficiency so that BMW can sell twin turbo V8 monsters in things like the 750i. Putting 300 HP in a MINI just undermines that corporate goal. Like it or not, MINI will be downsizing, not upsizing.

    Really, all that is left is weight reduction (and I personally really like the idea). Taking out what is already there is less expensive than creating low volumen quasi-custom parts. a 10% diet is a 10% increase in power to weight ratio.... And that's where driving dynamics are born.... Just add lightness has worked for many a car, and MINI could benefit from it too!

    Anyway, I'm on board with the idea that JCW is right now too close to the current standard cars. But with a self imposed cap on what they will do, JCW is somewhat screwed by corporate choice, not technical nessesity. It's kind of like holding the Cayman back to keep from pisssing off the 911 fans.... A corporate decision that has no technical requirement.

    Matt
     
  10. andyroo

    andyroo New Member
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    The "average" buyer sees a Mazdaspeed 3, looks at the price of the JCW, looks at the hp difference, and laughs. Most of us understand that there's a lot more to it than that......but it's tough to justify the JCW over the competition.

    It's just way too much money. If it was 35k with all the JCW parts included....it's still too much. Great car, too much money.

    Hell, at 30k with JCW suspension, the aero kit, brembos, some unique alcantera interior bits and maybe recaros, etc.....it's STILL tough to justify. Much better, but still a tough sell to most people. Give it just 250 hp on top of all that and it's got a better chance.

    I understand it's unlikely we'll see a JCW at 30k that's got some real goods, but i've had a long day and giving myself permissin to do some wishful thinking. :lol:

    The JCW should be mean. A car that makes most people a little scared to drive it. The MCS is a fun, pretty quick, all around good car. The JCW should be a car that makes people a little nervous, in a good way. If it looks mean, sounds mean, but drives like a MCS with a few more hp....that's not mean. And although i hate internet benchracing, it should be competitive, stock vs. stock, than cars it's priced against.

    - andrew
     
  11. Dr Obnxs

    Dr Obnxs New Member

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    Another thing to think about...

    is that the M cars sell for about 50% premium over getting into the same platform (depending on how you look at it). That means a MCS "M" would be just shy of $35k. That's getting pretty pricy. Add the options and stuff, and it would clear $40k. I don't see a good business case for that kind of car. The fact that the base price is relatively low (for BMW) to start with doesn't really give a lot of options on what to do. heck, even if it did have a 300 hp turbo I4, would you spend $40k to park it in your driveway? That's a lot of cash....

    Matt
     
  12. andyroo

    andyroo New Member
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    It's a solid premium for an //M car but the difference is pretty substantial. Compared to MCS vs. JCW where the difference isn't quite as profound.

    Not to say that I think the M cars are worth the premium, and unforutnately I don't see myself in the position to make that decision anytime soon. :lol:

    Keeping the starting price under 30k is a must do IMO and it must be worth it over an MCS.

    Think about the Subaru WRX vs. STI. Before the recent power bump for the WRX, it was a 70 hp difference, brembos, much fancier diffs, different suspension, slightly different looks, 6 speed, different seats, etc. And it was 24k vs about 34k (though you could get STIs for around 32k or less new). Compare that difference to MCS vs. JCW.

    - Andrew
     
  13. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    I'm very surprised MINI / BMW even put the extra design, engineering, and costs associated with the factory JCW block, head, turbo, ECU and transmission etc. There are quite a lot of differences in the JCW unit verses the S. But I guess they were driven by the needs of the Challenge Racing program.
     
  14. Rixter

    Rixter Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the JCW should be a street-legal version of the Challenge car instead of a slightly modded MCS. Make it less civilized and just allow it to be a pure driver's car. It could even come with an entire box of stickers for those who feel so inclined. =)
     
  15. BThayer23

    BThayer23 Well-Known Member

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    If JCW were serious about engineering a halo MINI, I think it would look and feel a lot like the GP - lighter, more aero, more power, exclusive color, limited options, and premium price. I say give us the choice of auto or manual, Chili Red or Alpine White, cold weather package, and that's it. Minimize production costs with less "youificaiton" but give the car some beast.

    Most MINIs offer so many options that they become a reflection of the owner and his/her personal preferences. MINI should make an alpha car that reflects the JCW badge and its ideals, i.e. it doesn't belong on the option list if JCW doesn't think it belongs on the car.
     
  16. lotsie

    lotsie Club Coordinator

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    Hence, Justa S:lol:

    Mark
     
  17. bee1000

    bee1000 New Member

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    I read not too long ago that the reason for having a top-tier car like a JCW MINI or a V6 Accord is to make the middle-tier car's price more attractive. If you have a higher priced car above the MCS or an Accord I4 EX, you can price that middle-tier car higher and still have it look reasonable in the mind of the consumer. That top-tier isn't there for people to buy it so much as to let people spend $35,000 on an MCS and say "shoot, that's a lot better than $40,000 for a JCW."
     
  18. Blainestang

    Blainestang New Member

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    Can't find the MSRP for a 2006 MCS JCW, but the GP wasn't that much more than a JCW at the time, was it?

    Why not make an "RS" (or another GP) type option on the JCW that gives the car minimal options, a little extra power, standard JCW suspension, and a few weigh-saving things. It could be relatively inexpensive, but offer significant performance improvement.

    If I remember correctly, Mitsubishi offered an EVO RS for a while that was actually *cheaper* than the "standard" one because it ditched the CF wing, radio, etc. Now, I know German companies prefer to charge large amounts to add a little and remove stuff (Porsche Boxter Speedster, GT3 RS, M3 CS), but it's not unheard of to offer a good value (GP, Evo RS, etc).

    That said, I won't hold my breath.
     
  19. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    I haven't checked the price on the 2010 JCW, but my 09 came in at $36,750, with $8,200 in options. Remove the options and the base 2009 JCW was $28,550.
     
  20. versus

    versus Active Member

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    Interesting, b/c I priced a new JCW on MINI USA recently and base was 29,500.

    I also saw a JCW with a similar amount of options, price wise, as yours for sale, for 29,900 and it's an 09 as well.
     

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