Launch Gallery
When Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd pulled up to a post-Indy 500 party in 2010 in a blue-and-white Mini Cooper—mere moments after Dario had taken the checkered flag at the Brickyard—all doubts about Mini’s macho cred dispelled. And recent styling moves have made this iconic British sports car even more appealing to the eye, especially when you add in the track-tuned John Cooper Works premium package. When Mini debuted their first two-seater last fall, they also bowed a posh big sibling in the John Cooper Works coupe that is plain nasty looking—black alloy wheels, dual center-mounted exhaust, a significantly increased raked roofline in contrasting colors; even an active spoiler to improve aerodynamics at speed.

The John Cooper Works coupe packs a 208 horsepower turbo under the signature two-tone hood, and the nimble suspension will have you re-creating the heist scene from The Italian Job on every curvy road you encounter. Yet for all that performance, the coupe has practicality. The hatch pops open to reveal a surprisingly cavernous trunk, suitable for throwing in your better half’s bags for a romantic weekend escape. Just be careful: She might get jealous when your car turns more guys’ heads than she does.

The Lowdown:

Style factor: Leather-wrapped steering wheel, well-appointed interior, booming Harman-Kardon sound system and of course the big center-console-mounted speedo, and major curb appeal

Fiscal factor: The sticker above 38K might strike some as a steep price to pay for this slick coupe

Fun factor: With good power-to-weight ratio and taut suspension, this car just begs to be thrown into corners