► Extra power, gruff sports exhaust
► Costs £2600 more than Cooper S
► Not a patch on Mini Challenge Edition
Have a pathological hatred for insects and want a vertical-windscreened hot hatch to help in your quest to eradicate insectkind? You’ll be needing a Mini Cooper S Works 210.
Complete with bug-busting John Cooper Works front air intakes and that steep-raked glass, flatten the throttle in the latest Mini hatchback and you’re surrounded by two tunes; one emanating from the throatier exhaust and the second the ping-ping-ping of airborne six-leggers being scythed from the sky in titanic numbers.
Slotting between the £19,555 Mini Cooper S 3dr and the £23,780 John Cooper Works, this hot hatch bridges the power and style gulf with 210bhp – compared with 192bhp and 231bhp respectively – and a £22,155 price tag.
Helping warrant the price hike over the standard Cooper S is a JCW aerodynamic body kit, 17-inch alloy wheels and that rude exhaust, complete with ASBO-grade Bluetooth-controlled Track mode for added volume.
Mini Cooper S Works 210: perfect amount of added muscle
This Works Mini may be 21bhp down on its range-topping sibling, but it beats it hands down with its perfect balance of power and traction. No matter how hard you mash the throttle or how early you get on the pedal in the bends, you can use all the engine’s muscle without overwhelming the front tyres – unlike the more-focused Challenge, which struggles to capitalise on its on-paper advantage at low speeds.
Admittedly, this lesser Mini doesn’t slingshot into the redline with the same ferocity but you still get a very satisfying amount of speed and a burbly exhaust note. The gearbox is a good match, too, proving slick and quick to change and more engaging than any two-pedal alternative.
Comfortable ride but serious road noise in the cabin
With its sports exhaust, additional muscle and butch bodykit, the Works 210 feels like a fitting step above the standard Cooper S, looking sharper and proving more focused to drive. The suspension is firm but reasonably comfortable, offering darty handling and making this Mini feel every bit as light as it is on twisty tarmac.
Switch to Sport mode and the sharper steering adds to athletic, darty feel, as does the popping exhaust. Surprisingly, however, the ride is stiffer than the much more hardcore Challenge Edition – which feels sharper still – with an unholy din emanating through the floorpan from the sporting tyres (below).
Without too much other noise disturbing the cabin, this can prove grating; unexpectedly so for a brand new car. If you’re considering the Works 210 as an everyday vehicle, take an extended test drive first. Refinement levels aren’t too bad, but the absence of other noise means that the racket from the tyres echoes around the cabin uncomfortably.
Bug-splattered windscreen and low-slung cabin add to experience
Thankfully the front seats are very supportive and hold you in place with good back support – somewhat balancing the aural onslaught. You sit low, with the vertical windscreen feeling more akin to a 911's – or a double-decker's – than a typical hot hatch, bumping up the fun factor.
Judging on our summer drive, though, you will have to budget just as much for washer fluid as petrol to be able to see the road ahead...
While the Cooper S Works 210 can’t compete with the Challenge for sheer fun, you do get a substantial £9845 price saving.
Use some of this to ditch the problematic Michelin Primacy tyres fitted to our test car for some proper rubber and the Works 210 could be the Mini of choice for go-faster fans wanting something livelier than a Cooper S but not quite a JCW.
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