3rd Gen JCW My 2018 JCW MT: A review

Discussion in '3rd Generation: 2014+ F54, F55, F56, F57, F60' started by Redbeard, Sep 21, 2017.

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  1. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    DISCLAIMER: So because MA has apparently become an R53 only forum (even though this is in a so-called F56 section) here is a disclaimer: No, I didn't buy an R53. This isn't about an R53. No R53s were harmed in the writing of this review though some owners might get butt-hurt.

    Even with the issues with the body shop I have 1800 miles on my JCW that include: Road trip to Tulsa, OK, weekend fun runs, and daily commuting. I have a good feel for the car now.

    Ordering: I custom ordered the car in June and it was built July 3rd, 2017. It took about 6 weeks for the car to arrive. That was a long six weeks. Here is my spec sheet:

    2018 MINI JCW with a Manual transmission

    Moonwalk Grey body and red roof and JCW stripes.

    Black JCW wheels still on the runflats.

    HK Stereo with Satellite Radio

    Comfort Access.

    First Impression: It's a MINI for sure. Feels like my R56 in many ways. It feels better in so many more. JCW steering wheel and sports seats feel great. I could AutoX in these seats without a CG lock. Shifter has better positive engagement and is shorter than the R56.

    However, whoever called this a "short throw shifter" should be slapped with a wet fish and made to drive a current gen Mustang with a Hurst short throw to understand what that really is.

    The features and gizmos are fun and work well. The voice system is vastly improved as well as the Bluetooth integration. Now, the best voice system I have experienced was the latest generation Sync from Ford. The voice system here isn't quite as good. I like the menu system as well. It makes sense to me. Having the entire car manual available from the incar system is also handy.

    Comfort access. Hands only lock/unlock start and stop is an overlooked thing until you don't have it. I had it in my R56. The Mustang and WRX that followed, not so much. It was one of those simple features that makes the day-to-day so nice.

    Driving impressions:
    Power. Lots of it. All over the damn powerband. It feels good. Is it 420hp like my Mustang? Nope. However, short of a racetrack or a hurried jaunt on the 130 I really could never use all of the power in the GT. Frankly, the case is close to the same with the JCW, but not quite. Enough places are available that I can rip through gears properly on the JCW and still not raise the ire of the local constabulary.

    Handling is leaps and bounds better than my R56 AND my "old" 2015 WRX. The WRX is an out of the box corner carver for sure but the whole car is stiff and punishing over anything that isn't a smooth road. Somehow the magical suspension gnomes at BMW have figured out how to make this car handle as well as the WRX (short of the AWD advantages under acceleration) without feeling like there is a 3 year old kicking my tail bone every time I went over a mild bump. That made the road trip to Tulsa much better for my wife and I.

    Runflats. So, this whole review is while the car is on runflats. I won't spend a bunch of time here but I will say runflats have gotten much better since 2010 when I had the set off my R56. I can't help but wonder what the car will handle like once the runflats are replaced. Right now, they are gonna stay.

    Torque steer. Where did it go? Seriously. I have dropped the hammer in sport mode without traction control on and the wheel barely moves. The car just goes. No drama. Well, aside from the drama of it actually pulling hard from a launch. Hell my R56 and my VW GTI MkV had some noticeable torque steer. I'm not seeing it here.

    Driving modes. I had already driven my Dad's F56 S and knew about the modes. I am all for it. It's a fun bit of theater that makes you feel good.

    The Green mode is actually helpful when I am stuck in stop and go traffic on MoPac on my way to work. I have learned to drive more efficiently because of that. I get between 30-32 mpg during a normal week. I was just over 37 mpg on the road trip to Tulsa.

    Normal mode is where I drive the car 80% of the time. Plenty of power for most things and a calm driven dimeanor. I can romp on the gas and get the grunt I need or drive gentle and smooth and put a passenger to sleep.

    Sport is just a bit extra, and awesome for it. The steering tightens up. The throttle response is increased and the sound. The glorious sound. I actually like the stock exhaust. It makes a good noise. It pops and burbles on downshifts. I don't care if it's "real" or not. It sounds great and makes me enjoy the drive even more.

    Road trip worthy. My wife and I took a road trip to Tulsa, OK for the USPSA Area 4 Championships from Austin, TX. It's about 7-8 hours of interstate. We had luggage for two adults and all of my shooting gear easily into the car. My wife (who drives a Cobb Tuned Stage 2+ 2008 WRX) really enjoyed driving the JCW. At the end of the trip she said, "I'm really glad you got this car. I like it." Highest praise I know I'm gonna get from someone who matters.

    The inevitable comparison:
    Is it "better" than an R56? Yep. R53? Yep. Better looking than both too. It looks like an R56 that grew up. It doesn't have that kicked-in face that R53s have.

    Remember: Better is a very subjective thing in this instance. Frankly, since I'm not a MINI only owner I have a wider array of vehicles to compare to and a different set of tastes in what I want in a car.

    This MINI fits the bill in every way that matters to me. I haven't felt this "connected" to a car since my R56. I enjoy driving this everyday.

    So, now you can tell me how wrong I am. How ugly my car is. How your highly modified R53 is faster, cheaper, better looking, and ACTUALLY mini. None of it will change my mind.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    That's a beautiful car! (Even if it isn't an R53)
     
  3. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    Very informative review Redbeard !!
     
  4. enigmaj91

    enigmaj91 New Member

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    Awesome! Thank you for your review. I'm chomping at the bit until the day arrives that I order my JCW, let alone get the key fob in my pocket and push the Start button that first time. Can't wait!
     
  5. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:
     
  6. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    It rumbles and pops on every start. EVERY start. It's awesome.
     
  7. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    Nice review Redbeard. You are the only person that matters when it comes to your car.

    I'm waiting for the review of your review. :wink:
     
  8. old81

    old81 Club Coordinator
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    Nicely said, it is a beautiful MINI! :)

    Don
     
  9. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    10k mile update:

    Aside from the fender-bender early on the JCW has been trouble free the whole time. The first service was fast and easy.

    I have basically stopped using "green mode" as it doesn't actually affect engine management. It just gives you a "game" to play to improve mileage. I have figured out how to maximize mileage in traffic with appropriate shifting.

    I discovered that the car automatically rev matches. I had no clue it did that until I missed a gas blip on a downshift and the engine revved anyway. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like matching my own gears but it is not so intrusive that it was stopping/interrupting me from doing it on my own. Another 2 points to the engineers.

    I attended a local autocross. I did okay. Not great by any means but I was 77/149 in PAX. 8/46 in the "Novice" class. I realized three things afterwards: 1) Holy Crap I am rusty as hell after 5 years of not autox'ing and tracking. 2) Dunlop Run flats are CRAP autoX tires. Great for DD'ing. Lousy to AutoX on. 3) The skill is still there. I just need to wake it back up. My tires went to shit by the third run but I kept dropping 2-3 SECONDS every run.

    I have been driving it basically everyday and every day I start it and it makes me smile. I love flipping it into sport mode, feeling it tighten up steering and sharpen the throttle response. It was still the right choice to buy the F56 JCW.
     
  10. Sully

    Sully Administrator
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    Agreed - I test drove a new JCW before buying the GP... more to see what they were like. I liked it. Since I like to tune cars, I knew with a few quick add-on bits I could pull a good bit more power without much work (love turbo cars for that). One thing I did notice was the throttle blip on down shift. Same thing happened to me, was matching down shifts and frankly forgot when talking with the sales guy. It matched it. The thing I wondered was under “race” conditions how does it work? I.e. when you are going from 4th to 2nd for example. Any experience with that?

    Nice looking JCW BTW.
     
  11. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    I just tried a 4 -> 2 downshift for you on my way to work. It matched it. I had to be a bit gentle releasing the clutch but otherwise no issue.

    I can say that on some of my more "spirited" drives I have ripped through gears as aggressively as I would on a racetrack. The match is unnoticeable even while I am rev-matching myself. It seems to know better than intervene.

    Also here are a few more pics:

    Da booty:
    [​IMG]

    Interior:
    [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
     
  12. Sully

    Sully Administrator
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    Interesting - I'll have to test that out. A buddy of mine had an early contour that "had" something, but all it really did was hold the rev. Didn't rev match as far as I could tell. Granted two entirely different cars. Good to know it works so well.

    Regarding the pics - good looking. Is that a flat red lower to the dash? In the pic it looks flat with texture. Kind of cool. :D
     
  13. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Yup. It's flat red. It's such a nice touch.
     
  14. Sully

    Sully Administrator
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    Agreed - would like to see that in person. Pics look good. If you have time, try out the "garage" section. You have your other/previous 3 cars. Would be interested in your feedback on the new system. I have some update's I'm planning on doing when I get a few other items off the list. Would love your thoughts (again if you have time/interest)
     
  15. vetsvette

    vetsvette MINI Alliance Ambassador
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    Love the red color line. Have you noticed that if you change gears while on cruise control, it maintains the same speed and doesn't kick the cruise off when you depress the clutch. Matches the throttle then too.
     
  16. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Mine doesn't. If I kick the clutch while in cruise control it immediately goes to "coast". I just need to hit resume but it doesn't stay on.

    I have looked at the Garage section. I want to take time to get good pics of my ride (clean) and add in the details. I will get it in there.
     
  17. vetsvette

    vetsvette MINI Alliance Ambassador
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    Huh. Must have discontinued it.
     
  18. Qik

    Qik Well-Known Member

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    Does it rev match once you pull it out of gear or when you stick it in gear? Can your foot be on the brake too? I've always wanted to try a rev matching car just to see what it's like.
     
  19. vetsvette

    vetsvette MINI Alliance Ambassador
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    As long as the clutch is fully depressed it will rev match when it senses what gear you're going into.
     
  20. Redbeard

    Redbeard JCW: because fast is fun!
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    Well, I am now just about a year and 14,569 miles into ownership.

    Couple of updates:

    Yes, I do plan on modding it, a bit. More details further below.

    So for the only consistent issue I have with it is the Satellite Radio. The antenna sucks so it cuts out awkwardly on the local freeways. Nothing obscuring the LOS to the Southern sky. Just cuts out. Kind of annoying. Didn't have that problem in the last two cars I had with satellite radio. I will complain at my 20k service. I doubt they will do much.

    I am still enjoying my car every day. Everything still feels tight and sharp. No rattles or creeks.

    I still haven't been using the "green" mode. I have been using sport more. So 70/30 Normal/Sport.

    Since "discovering" the rev match feature I have basically ignored it. I still rev match myself and it's never gotten in the way.

    So planned mods. I am pushing back my modding schedule from October to January. I am shooting two more late season major matches so I want to stay focused until then.

    The mods planned are as follows:

    - NM Eng Wheels 17"
    - Dunlop Direzza ZIIIs (still not 100% what size though)
    - ABF 600 Brake Fluid
    - Powerstop performace brake pads
    - Performance transmission fluid (Redline or Amsoil, maybe?)

    I am waffling on one upgrade: Exhaust. I love the stock exhaust. It pops and growls. Sometimes I love that I can have an easy conversation in the car but other times I wish I had that extra dB of exhaust growl. Anyone know of somebody that has done exhaust mods to a JCW F56? Not just an S. They have a different exhaust set-up from what I understand.
     

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