Kristin McMahon

The story of John Cooper looms large in the history of the original Mini, how he took the tiny British “people’s car” and developed it into a giant killer of international proportions.

The late racing innovator, who pioneered mid-engine Formula 1 cars in the 1950s and whose competition Minis won three Monte Carlo rallies in the 1960s, is inextricably linked with the Mini, then and now.

So it’s only fitting that the performance version of the modern Mini should evoke his name. The Mini John Cooper Works edition adds a passel of go-fast goodies and body aerodynamics to the already spirited Copper S, turning the little retro-mobile into a riotous blast of pocket-size fun.

Power comes from a twin-scroll turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that produces 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, with an overboost mode that briefly adds another 15 pound-feet. That’s a heap of pull for a 2,849-pound car.

Zero to 60 comes in just 6.6 seconds, according to the manufacturer. And the mpg is a decent at 26 city and 34 highway, according to the EPA.

Unlike many ragtops out there, the Mini still looks cool with its roof up.

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