Strengths and weaknesses:
- engine power and sound
- steering and stopping
- limited storage space
- low roofline
Mini makes big strides on long-distance runs
"Ferrari and Maserati may own the world when it comes to making blissful engine sounds, but given the price point, this JCW Coupe is mighty impressive."
When the road calls, my challenge is always to decide what to drive - coupe or convertible? sedan or CUV? minivan or SUV/ - it all depends on the time of year and where I’m headed.
In this case, the decision to drive a sporty two-door coupe in the early spring sounded a bit ludicrous but then the 2012 Mini John Cooper Works Coupe is not your average coupe; so, we packed up four days’ worth of stuff and headed east towards Mont Tremblant, Quebec.
Pavement challenging power comes in the form of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo engine matched to a six-speed manual transmission. Push the pedal to the floor and the JCW Coupe responds with a slight snarl and a lot of zip! Speeds increase rapidly as I push through the six-speed manual gearbox. There is something about a clutch and gear lever working in harmony that still holds sway when it comes to driving two-door sports coupes.
Zero to 100 km/h reportedly takes 6.4 seconds; top speed is electronically limited at 240 km/h. But the fun is not restricted to the top end of the driving experience. Decelerating to lower speeds induces a rapturous burble as the engine reverberates through chrome-tipped dual exhaust. Ferrari and Maserati may own the world when it comes to making blissful engine sounds, but given the price point, this JCW Coupe is mighty impressive.
Rack and pinion steering is light during rush hour traffic, tightening up progressively as speed increases, and on/off ramps quickly become my own personal Nurburgring. It almost feels as though you are steering a perfectly balanced go-kart, with seating for two, solid body construction and more than enough storage space to handle a weekend getaway.
Inside, the Mini JCW Coupe highlights piano black accents, red piping on the seats and stitching around the three-spoke steering wheel. It is surprisingly roomy given the small dimensions and I quickly settle in for the seven hour drive ahead. The optional Harmon Kardon stereo adds another dimension to the art of interior design.
Our drive from Toronto to the Quebec border is not an arduous undertaking by any means but it is informative. For one thing, I quickly learn never to cross a solid white line while in rush hour traffic as a fine officer signals us over. At least he is happy to provide us with helpful advice for the rest of our trip, if only the fee was reasonable.
Arriving at Hotel Quintessence in the late afternoon, valet attendants quickly open our doors and we are whisked inside what is certainly one of Canada’s finest luxury boutique hotels. The exclusive waterfront location ensures privacy and an amazing view of Lake Tremblant whatever time of the year you visit.
Suites are magnificent, ranging in size from 700-1,200 sq.-ft. Thick carpet and warm wood furniture provide a sense of comfort, as if you had arrived at your own personal cottage. The grand fireplace is old school, requiring matches and wood to light. A king-sized bed is perfectly placed to take advantage of the view. So too the whirlpool tub as it overlooks the living/bedroom area. The tub even features a handy remote so you never have to leave.
Dining takes place at La Quintessence restaurant & Winebar located on the lower level of the hotel. The setting is intimate as we dine on the tasting menu with red and white wine pairings prepared by Chef Jean-Francois Lalandec. The recommendations made throughout the meal by our attentive sommelier are perfect!
Activities at the hotel include Spa Sans Sabots, offering a full menu of services in a contemporary yet casual setting. Nearby Mount Tremblant provides additional dining options, shopping, culture and world-class skiing in winter. For those with deep pockets, the Ferrari Driving Experience also calls the area and Hotel Quintessence home.
Where to Stay
3004, chemin de la Chapelle,
Mont-Tremblant (Quebec), Canada