A few weeks back we enjoyed a great day at Phillip Island thrashing around in a series of brightly coloured gen-three Mini JCWs. Now we have come back to reality, having road tested one for a week on our home turf on the Gold Coast – traffic, speed cameras, rough and ready roads, the full catastrophe.

Given the high-tech nature of the all-new third-generation John Cooper Works (JCW) and engineering ability of BMW, which runs Mini these days, it didn't come as a surprise that the real-world didn't faze the car in the slightest.

Styling

Minis are all about style and the JCW takes the already excellent shape of the standard Cooper S a step further. Its signature is a red bar across the centre of the grille.

Larger cooling slots in the lower front are certainly not there for decoration – one of them funnels air through an auxiliary radiator to keep temperatures under control. However, this change means there's no space for foglights.

Interestingly, the reshaped door sills are also not decorative, being part of the revised aerodynamic package. A large rear wing also adds downforce.

Grey coloured spats around the wheel arches look great. Our car came in a stand out orange and black, and drew plenty of admiring looks from Mini enthusiasts.

Sports seats give good side grip but aren't so deep as to make entry and exit a pain. Should you not want to do any hard track work you may care to select seats with shallower bolsters.

Engine / Transmission

All-new JCW Mini uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 170kW and 320Nm. Peak torque runs all the way across the engine's range from 1250 rpm to 4800 revs, with a plenty of punch still there right through the fives.

Our test car had a six-speed automatic transmission. Six-speed manuals haven't come off the boat yet, but are due any day. Paddle shifters do give you full control over gear changes in the auto.

Features

The JCW has a slightly old fashioned head-up display that uses a small screen sitting on the top of the dash. It does provide a full range of information, though. As well as the car's speed it can display gear indicator, engine revs, shift lights and satnav instructions.

We love the games played by the lights on the circular screen that surrounds the display

Professional Navigation comes across the range and displays through an 8.8-inch screen that also shows the on-board computer info. A Touch Controller completes the package.

We love the games played by the lights on the circular screen that surrounds the display. Green lights when you're driving in economy mode, red when you've pushed the Sport mode.

Safety

Electronic stability control and a clever electronic differential lock play their part in reducing lap times at the track, as well as providing assistance if you make a mistake in road driving.

This Mini is certainly dynamic

Front and side airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, pre-tensioned and load-limited seatbelts; but no ANCAP testing at this stage.

As we've said before not having a crash is far more important than surviving one, and this Mini is certainly dynamic, has huge brakes and arguably attracts better than average drivers.

Driving

The fact that the 2.0 four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is on song from such low revs explains why it's so docile in day-to-day running. When given its head it soon brought back memories of the track day at Phillip Island, where we had 230km/h on the dial before dabbing the brakes for the scary high speed kink at the end of the long downhill straight.

Huge Brembo brakes haul off speed very promptly and even PI's ultra-fast straights and hard stops never had us anywhere near brake fade. Naturally, on-road driving is unlikely to ever tax the Mini's brakes.

While we love driving manual gearboxes in high-performance cars we have to admit the six-speed automatic JCWs are quicker than manuals, so are the logical way to go.

Run-flat tyres have improved over the years, but are still not as smooth as conventional tyres and the sporting 18-inch wheels created quite a bit of road noise on coarse-chip surfaces.