The clutch is backwards from most cars. When you step on the clutch of most cars, the clutch separates from the engine. In a Mini, it remains attached to the engine, and the thrust bearing rotates with the engine with a lot of force on this half inch steel bearing. The flywheel is a dual mass, suitable for today's drivers who do not know how to let out a clutch. Finally, clutches are supposed to match the horsepower of the engine. The clutch is sized for the standard 124 HP engine. The JCW has the same engine, but with tuning and turbo puts out 208 HP. The clutch in my Mini has now been replaced 4 times in 36000 miles of driving. BMW which owns Mini runs it's warranty program. 95% of their calls involve BMWs. BMW uses a traditional clutch and its clutches are matched to the engine. So they do not understand the problems faced by Mini JCW owners. I have a 4 year 50,000 warranty on my car, purchased in June 2012. Yet BMW refuses to pay the $1700 bill to replace my clutch. Heavy duty clutches are available for the Mini because the clutch fails so often. They cost $1300. They have a ceramic bearing that won't burn out. Mini dealers have special equipment to replace clutches because they break so often. It costs about $5000. So chances are that your mechanic does not have this equipment. My Mini dealer refuses to even touch a heavy duty clutch since their agreement with Mini USA requires them to only use Mini parts, which are unreliable.
If you buy a Mini JCW, you can expect the clutch to fail about once a year. It takes 3 days to get a clutch installed.
This is an update to my initial review. I've got some 6,000 miles on it now. Combined mileage is 34 mpg. Freeway driving is a breeze, as long as you, the driver, realized your MINI Cooper (non-turbo) is no race or fast car. It's a very simple 1600 cc's of raw BMW power. They should use that line in their advertisements. The car and its payment went to my ex-husband when I left him. He wanted it. He loves it. At 74" he is very comfortable in the car with top up or down. So, the rest of this review is his.
Toby, that is her name, performs exactly the way I had hoped she would perform. Whether in the city (stop or go traffic) or on the highway, she does an excellent job. I do not drive her fast. She simply isn't fast. I didn't want "fast" so, she is perfect. For me. At my age. I got this car because it was a convertible, leather interior, a wonderful color combination for the exterior with a very comfortable ride and superior sound system. Toby is a Highgate package with the Harmon-Kardon sound system (a 'must-have' in my mind). I truly cannot think of anything else to say about the car, as it is just a superb automobile in spite of its price tag. I got what I wanted: A well thought-out, high mileage, comfortable drop-top. When I'm 80, please stay off the sidewalks. I'll be driving on them!
This is the worst car that I have ever owned. I have had a alpha romeo spider veloce, honda crv and one other car for over 10 years each with over 150,000 miles on them. This car is cheaply and poorly made and was more expensive than both of them. In the first year that I owned it all of the electrical wiring went and I had to have it towed in, less than 7,000 miles. Covered by the warranty $8,000 plus. The following winter the water pump went and I had to have it towed in yet again. In year 3 the drivers seat started to frwy whith less than 20,000 miles. Last year the brakes were falling apart and they had to be changed when the car only had about 24,000 miles on it. I am at the dealer yet again 6 months later and although I purchased an extended warranty most of it isn't covered. $600 plus to have the hood fixed because it won't open because the original cheap parts have rusted in 4 years. Another $400 plus for new spark plugs and something else because the engine is malfunctioning with only 31,000 miles in the car. Another oil change because all the oil leaked and I couldn't get to it since the cable broke to open the hood. Inferior parts and quality. Run from this vehicle and buy a Honda, Toyota or Subaru. I can not recommend this car to anyone and will never buy another. But at least it's paid for!