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Although I took possession of my JCW around the first of the year, I have resisted the urge to take her up into my favorite mountain roads outside of Tokyo during the snowy and icy winter months.

Well, I had some work to do this weekend out on the Izu penninsula, which have me an excuse to finally see what my JCW was capable of, on 70 glorious km of challenging, uncrowded, cliff-hugging mountain roads known as the Izu and Hakkone Skyline Highway (as well as a few hidden side roads I know about). Below are a few pictures of my car and the route I took.

(The Forum still doesn't accept picture uploads so I found a way to share images with you via the Imgure site):

http://imgur.com/a/KmeFh

The weather was perfect on the way out and mostly wet and rainy on the way back but on both days, my impression of the JCW was very positive. One of the things that stood out was just how well-sorted out the suspension and steering was (I have the sports suspension rather than the electronic adaptive one): no matter how aggressively I attacked the corners, I always felt like I knew exactly where the car was - not only the way it remained fairly flat, but also the quick and accurate responses the car made to minor inputs from the steering wheel - I couldn’t believe how easy it was to carve multiple turns rapidly once I “got into the zone” and now better understand what people are referring to with the Mini's “go-kart-like-handling”.

I was also truly impressed by how utterly spot on and powerful the brakes were, never showing a bit of fade even after 15-20 minutes of carving tight mountain turns, how little understeer there was, even when I purposely took it a little too fast, and.. (sorry to mention a modification) just how well sorted the NM PowerModule is - I could absolutely feel (and LOVED) the extra pull that was available at just the times I wanted it, while never feeling it was “too much”.

Having owned 15 sports cars over my 30 years in Japan and taken every single one of them through these roads multiple times, my honest assessment is that although a few of them have been faster (Boxtser S, M3), and at least 1-2 of them slightly more engaging in the twisties (Megane Trophy, Alfa 147 GTA), the JCW is actually the best overall package I’ve owned to date - perfectly useable in bumper-to-bumper Tokyo traffic while still showing off lots of character and style (completely lacking in my previous BMW M135i), while also being eminently capable of rising to the occasion when pushed hard through the mountain roads I love so much, doing so in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and induces ear-to-ear grins… :)
 
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Although I took possession of my JCW around the first of the year, I have resisted the urge to take her up into my favorite mountain roads outside of Tokyo during the snowy and icy winter months.

Well, I had some work to do this weekend out on the Izu penninsula, which have me an excuse to finally see what my JCW was capable of, on 70 glorious km of challenging, uncrowded, cliff-hugging mountain roads known as the Izu and Hakkone Skyline Highway (as well as a few hidden side roads I know about). Below are a few pictures of my car and the route I took.

(The Forum still doesn't accept picture uploads so I found a way to share images with you via the Imgure site):

http://imgur.com/a/KmeFh

The weather was perfect on the way out and mostly wet and rainy on the way back but on both days, my impression of the JCW was very positive. One of the things that stood out was just how well-sorted out the suspension and steering was (I have the sports suspension rather than the electronic adaptive one): no matter how aggressively I attacked the corners, I always felt like I knew exactly where the car was - not only the way it remained fairly flat, but also the quick and accurate responses the car made to minor inputs from the steering wheel - I couldn’t believe how easy it was to carve multiple turns rapidly once I “got into the zone” and now better understand what people are referring to with the Mini's “go-kart-like-handling”.

I was also truly impressed by how utterly spot on and powerful the brakes were, never showing a bit of fade even after 15-20 minutes of carving tight mountain turns, how little understeer there was, even when I purposely took it a little too fast, and.. (sorry to mention a modification) just how well sorted the NM PowerModule is - I could absolutely feel (and LOVED) the extra pull that was available at just the times I wanted it, while never feeling it was “too much”.

Having owned 15 sports cars over my 30 years in Japan and taken every single one of them through these roads multiple times, my honest assessment is that although a few of them have been faster (Boxtser S, M3), and at least 1-2 of them slightly more engaging in the twisties (Megane Trophy, Alfa 147 GTA), the JCW is actually the best overall package I’ve owned to date - perfectly useable in bumper-to-bumper Tokyo traffic while still showing off lots of character and style (completely lacking in my previous BMW M135i), while also being eminently capable of rising to the occasion when pushed hard through the mountain roads I love so much, doing so in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and induces ear-to-ear grins… :)
Thanks for the post and the pictures and taking the time to put them where we can see them! If you google MOTD there are a lot of pictures of minis on the Tail of the Dragon, but alas we were too busy doing the twisties to take any pictures ourselves. We managed triple digits in a couple of spots, law enforcement left us alone as long as we stayed within the lane and didn't cross the double yellow lines. A noticed crossing of them by the authorities resulted with an expensive ticket and the subsequent increase in insurance rates. We are headed back into the Blue Ridge Mountains next week to run the Parkway and twisty side roads which eases my envy of your route.
 
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