MINI Cooper S or JCW - What's the difference?

Posted 11th April 2023

The MINI Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW) are both bags of fun and hold their place as MINI’s performance-orientated duo. Whether it be a 3-door Hatch or Countryman that appeals to you, Cooper S and JCW versions are available across the majority of the range.

The question you may be asking is, what’s the real difference between the two? Well, that’s what we’re here to cover today - both the general differences as well as those that are model-specific.


When you’re looking for the ultimate expression of performance engineering and style, then a MINI JCW is the one for you. The MINI Cooper S models maintain much of the style, while toning down the performance a touch. Although, they remain undeniably sporty. The performance margin varies between models, yet the Cooper S can be universally viewed as a less hardcore and more daily driver focused performance vehicle. That’s not to say a JCW cannot be your daily driver, it absolutely can, you’ll just have a slightly firmer ride and reduced fuel economy for the price of performance. It’s great that MINI has given us both options, as you can decide which better suits you.

All models in the MINI range including the Electric, 3-Door Hatch, 5-Door Hatch, Convertible, Clubman and Countryman can be purchased in Cooper S form. Although, technically the MINI Electric is a Cooper S no matter whether you buy the Level 1, 2 or 3. The MINI Electric and 5-Door Hatch are the only models that are not available as a JCW.

Cooper S

The General Differences

The first big difference is power. How much is model-specific, and we’ll cover that later on. However, you can expect a considerable horsepower and torque boost in a JCW. Despite often using the same engine as its Cooper S sibling, JCW engines are upgraded to handle and produce high levels of power. This is certainly noticeable and is perfect for those who simply like having a bit extra on the road, or where they can push the car to the absolute limit on track. The Cooper S engine still offers a satisfying and extremely usable punch, perfect for public roads.

The JCW also gets bigger and more powerful brakes, in addition to a more performance-oriented suspension setup for supreme handling. Despite the suspension being stiffer, it doesn’t compromise comfort to a significant degree. Intelligent Adaptive Suspension can be specified on the Cooper S and JCW to ensure optimum balance between comfort and sport tuning.

Both Cooper S and JCW variants offer different transmission options. Some being available with a manual transmission and others just automatic. One difference between the two is the switch from a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in the Cooper S, to a torque converter 8-speed in the JCW. Both are fantastic and have their own benefits depending on the situation.  



The Cooper S and JCW now look more similar than ever. If you didn’t know already, the Cooper S is available in Classic, Sport or Exclusive trim. The Sport trim is the one that makes it look very similar to a JCW. Special Edition trim options also often make an appearance.

An easy way to spot a JCW is by the red stripe along the front grille, the JCW specific side scuttles, and the rear John Cooper Works badge. The Cooper S features a front John Cooper Works badge to signify its styling kit. Subtle other optional differences help to set apart the JCW - these include exclusive bonnet stripes and paint colours. Exhaust systems also vary, both in terms of tailpipe aesthetics and their sound. A JCW exhaust will provide a more sporty and aggressive sound.   

Cooper S Front

JCW Front

Cooper S Rear

JCW Rear

Model-Specific Differences

When comparing a Cooper S to a JCW, it makes sense to group the 3-Door Hatch and Convertible together and then the Clubman and Countryman together. This is because they share many similarities, including their engines. The Cooper S and JCW versions of the 3-Door Hatch and Convertible both utilise a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. This engine produces 178 bhp and 280 Nm in the Cooper S and 231 bhp and 320 Nm in the JCW. 

This contributes towards a 0-62 mph time of 6.1 seconds in the Hatch and 6.5 seconds in the Convertible for the JCW models (if specified with an automatic transmission). Comparatively, the manual transmission Cooper S completes it in 6.7 seconds, while the automatic takes 6.6 seconds. From the 0 - 62 mph times alone, there isn’t much in it. The JCW’s performance is particularly noticeable once you’re already in motion and cornering at higher speeds. Although not quite on the same level of performance as the JCW, the Cooper S is still very capable and does so while achieving 4-5 more miles per gallon. 

Cooper S

In contrast, the MINI Clubman and Countryman see far greater power gains from Cooper S to JCW. The Cooper S version of both models use the same engine that their 3-Door Hatch and Convertible counterparts do, however, their JCW versions receive a much more powerful 2.0-litre engine that is also used in the BMW M135i xDrive. This delivers 306 bhp and 450 Nm, making the Clubman JCW the quickest MINI available - narrowly beating the Countryman due to its lower weight. 

In addition to this, both of these models are equipped with All4 all-wheel drive, something not present on the 3-Door Hatch or Convertible. The JCW Clubman can therefore deliver a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds, while the JCW Countryman can do it in 5.1 seconds. Both are also only available with an automatic transmission. The Clubman and Countryman’s fuel consumption figures of 44.2 and 43.2 mpg are impressive for the Cooper S models. Due to the larger jump in power and weight, their JCW counterparts can achieve a claimed 37 and 35.8 mpg.



To wrap things up, both the MINI Cooper S and JCW variants of whichever model you pick, are going to put a smile on your face. They are true drivers cars that provide thrilling performance at a sweet spot for safe use on the road. Addictive and precise handling with eye-catching aesthetics, there’s a lot to love.

The JCW is simply a Cooper S taken to the next level, with performance at the forefront. We’re sure you’ll adore both but if you want ultimate performance, then we recommend the JCW. Looking for a nice balance between performance, fuel economy and comfort? Then perhaps the Cooper S would be a better fit.

If you’re still unsure which is right for you, why not book a test drive to find out for yourself. You can also contact your local MINI Centre in Bristol, Hungerford, Melksham (near Bath) or Swindon to learn more.

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For more information, please contact your local Dick Lovett MINI Centre:

MINI Bristol​ - 01173 216 752

MINI Hungerford - 01488 853 625

MINI Melksham - 01225 562 734

MINI Swindon - 01793 398 504

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