Power station: John Cooper Works goes electric

Published: 01 December 2020

► John Cooper Works goes electric
► Bodykitted EV hints at serious performance - and fun
► Inevitable, but welcome statement of intent

We, as a nation of drivers, tend to pay a bit too much attention to the horses in our horseless carriages. So much so, that it seems manufacturers are keen to reassure us that when the motive power under the hood is fuelled by sparks instead of explosions, there'll still be plenty to enjoy behind the wheel.

The latest high-performance electric car to cross our path, then, is the Mini John Cooper Works Electric. Details are scant at the moment, but as the current Mini Electric can propel itself to 60mph in around seven seconds, it's got a bit of a head start over converting a regular, petrol-powered Mini to something trackworthy.

Mini JCW electric

What's important is that for 'works' tuning outfits like this, getting more out of the engine is only part of the recipe. What really matters is how the car feels to drive, how it responds, and how the styling cues and changes alter how the car is perceived.

So, it's not a surprise that JCW will have to electrify - or even that it's happening so soon - but what is relevant is that when it comes to tuning operations such as this it's not just about squeezing more power from the car.

Mini JCW Electric GP-style rear spoiler

Given the sharp, engaging chassis of the existing John Cooper Works GP, the bold aerodynamic aids and aggressive stance, the Mini Electric JCW will amost certainly achieve the true aim - which is to ignite a bit of passion, aspiration and visceral appeal around the small, affordable end of the electric car market.

Whether there'll be a significant bump in power is yet to be revealed. Given the short range of the existing Mini Electric, it would be quite an achievement to keep a lithe, light car, a more powerful motor and a range long enough to enjoy the experience.

Mini John Cooper Works Electric, 2020 prototype

Perhaps there's an implication this car will be more focused and aimed at delivering short bursts of fun on the track contained within that camo wrap.

Mini's electrified sales doubled with the introduction of the Electric Cooper SE hatchback, suggesting the appeal of a small BEV is just as strong as the more rational choice of a plug-in hybrid SUV (the Countryman Cooper SE PHEV).

Mini JCW electric exhaust

There's even a touch of humour - where the bold central exhaust of the Mini would normally sit, there's a large gap that's arguably more obvious than the exhaustless trend of modern designs (EV or not). Hopefully that will make it to production.

Stay tuned for more on the John Cooper Works Electric as it's released.

By Richard Kilpatrick

Technology writer and photographer since the early '90s, now car-obsessed, too