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A go-kart with go-fast stripes: MINI John Cooper Works Concept coming to Detroit

For the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, MINI is skipping to the good part.

The launch of the redesigned 2014 MINI Cooper will bring a deluge of new models, but the one enthusiasts are most looking forward to is the sporty John Cooper Works (JCW) version. That model will be previewed by a concept at Detroit.

John Cooper was the original Mini tuner; he’s the “Cooper” in “MINI Cooper”. He built a performance reputation for the original Mini in the 1950s, entering cars in elite events like the Mille Miglia and Monte Carlo Rally. Today, the JCW is the sportiest mass-produced MINI model.

So the 2014 MINI John Cooper Works Concept has quite a legend to live up to.

The car certainly looks sporty enough in its gray and red paint scheme, with obligatory racing stripes. Visual enhancements include: a revised front fascia, a big rear spoiler, and special 18-inch wheels.

Since it’s based on the 2014 MINI Cooper, the concept has grown significantly over the 2013 JCW. MINI says its longer wheelbase and wider track “has a direct effect on the car’s driving characteristics.” Hopefully it’s a positive effect.

Powertrain details will be divulged during the JCW Concept’s Detroit debut, but it seems safe to assume that an upgraded version of the Cooper S’ 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four will be under the hood. If past JCW models are any indication, significant upgrades to the suspension and brakes are also in store.

Expect the concept to eventually make it to showrooms as MINI gradually replaces its current models with ones based on the 2014 Cooper. The JCW will probably be the sportiest MINI available until the end of the current car’s life cycle when, traditionally, MINI launches a limited-edition JCW GP model.