For MINI lovers who want something even faster than the standard Cooper S, there’s the MINI John Cooper Works. Now in its second generation, this latest version can lay claim to being the most powerful production MINI ever made. Extensive internal reworking of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor has raised power from an already decent 192 PS in the standard Cooper to an impressive 231 PS.

The unique look of the new MINI John Cooper Works is the result of practical considerations as much as aesthetics and make this high performance stand out from its siblings. Enlarged front air intakes and an additional air inlet in the near-side outer area of the front apron where the fog lights would normally be housed have been added for extra cooling, while the red Brembo sports brakes can be seen between the spokes of the John Cooper Works 17-inch alloy wheels. Aerodynamic additions to the MINI John Cooper Works include new ducting elements in the front apron, bespoke side sills, a rear apron with flaps and a diffuser containing the wide twin tailpipes of the sports exhaust system, and a rear spoiler. LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights come as standard.

On the road the MINI JCW feels considerably quicker than the standard Cooper S, thanks to the extra power and torque. Acceleration from 0-62 mph takes just 6.3 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission – an improvement of 0.2 seconds over the previous JCW model – and an even more rapid 6.1 seconds with the optional six-speed Steptronic sports automatic gearbox, which includes Launch Control. In use this proves easy and efficient to operate, whizzing through the gears with deft precision and smoothness.

Despite 231 PS at the front wheels, torque steer is well contained and the car encourages spirited driving, with an engaging rorty soundtrack and pops and crackles coming from the exhaust on the over run. For a performance model, emissions are respectable too, with the Steptronic version emitting 133g/km of CO2 versus the manual versions 155g/km.

The new MINI John Cooper Works takes the renowned go-kart agility which has always been a MINI hallmark to an even higher level, thanks to firmer suspension, a revised front axle and multi-link rear axle and uprated Brembo brakes. The result is a much more engaging drive, although one small criticism is that the sharp and direct steering could do with a touch more feel.

Inside the cabin of the new Works you’ll immediately notice the new sport bucket seats with integrated headrests in Carbon Black Dinamica/fabric or optionally, Carbon Black Dinamica leather. These are complemented by the John Cooper Works-logoed door sills, leather John Cooper Works multi-function steering wheel and gear selector for automatic transmission, both featuring Chili red stitching, stainless steel pedals and footrest. Other standard equipment includes an engine scoop in body colour, a distinctive chrome-plated fuel-filler cap linked to the central locking system, two-way steering column adjustment, air conditioning, heated mirrors and windscreen washer jets, DAB radio, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and cruise control with automatic braking on downhill gradients and Curve Speed Limiter.

Of course, like all MINIs, there are still a number of ways to customise the feel of your car. A nice touch on the JCW is the option of sports instrumentation – three classic circular dials which provide useful information to drivers who intend to enjoy track days. There are oil pressure and boost pressure displays plus a chronometer with stopwatch.

This latest incarnation of the MINI Cooper John Cooper Works builds on the strengths of its highly capable predecessor. With stronger performance, sharper handling and more distinctive features than the standard Cooper S, it easily remains the most desirable MINI hatch model.

Tech spec:

MINI Cooper John Cooper Works six-speed Steptronic
Price: £24,380
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo Transmission: six-speed auto, front wheel drive
Power: 231 PS @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 320 Nm @1250 rpm
0-62mph/top speed: 6.1s/153mph
Economy/CO2: 49.6mpg/133g/km