In the Spotlight – Mulgari Mini Icon 02 {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

9 Mar 2018

I absolutely love hot hatches, especially small ones. Nowadays the term ‘hot hatch’ has been applied to bigger and bigger cars like the Focus and RS3 which are actually pretty large these days, but thankfully there are still proper small hatchbacks with more power than they probably need from people like Mini and Abarth. But what do you do when something like the Mini JCW , which is awesome in its own right, doesn’t quite hit the spot in terms of power of bespoke features (despite the ten million different configurations they offer)? You go to a company like Mulgari…

You see Mulgari look at a car like the Mini JCW and see a blank canvas – a way in which they can take an already exceptional car and improve it in every way, all while making the owner feel more special and creating something truly special. The most striking aspect of their Mini – named the Icon 02 – is the visual aspect as that’s what will catch your eye first. You start out by ordering a Mini JCW in whatever external colour you want from the standard palette, then choose an accent colour that will compliment the paint. So think black paint with blue accent, or grey paint with line green accents. That colour is then applied to the grille, front intakes, the belt line around the car, the roof and rear spoiler and to the brake callipers. Then there’s a carbon fibre front splitter added, that’s painted to match the rest of the satin black trim around the car (subtle – I like it) and the badges are 3D printed and hand painted with your accent colour. Other visual aspects are the 18-inch lightweight alloy wheels in satin black and the suspension which is lowered by 30mm (the two combined give it a stance like a tin-top race car). All the chrome trim is painted black too, just to tie everything in.

As amazing as all that looks, it’s actually the interior that really makes you appreciate the effort that has gone into the bespoke nature of the car – whichever accent colour you have chosen is then also incorporated inside. The JCW seats are re-trimmed with alcantara and quilting with stitching in your chosen accent colour. That stitching also continues through to the gear stick and steering wheel, which also features a coloured insert to match as well. They may sound like small changes, but all together they make the interior look so much more special, it feels like a bespoke car made just for you. When you get hold of the key you notice the difference too – the big Mini disc is gone, replaced by a custom painted and 3D printed Icon 02 item which is smaller and far nicer to hold and use.

Of course, this Mini isn’t just about the visual aspects – far from it in fact as that’s what sets it apart. Along with the lowered suspension there are uprated wishbone bushes, new braided brake lines (the JCW brakes were tested and found to be more than capable, so why change them?), a new Mulgari developed intercooler and new ECU calibration. This isn’t just the case of going to an existing tuner and plugging in a laptop – Mulgari have been developing and testing their engine calibration work for 18 months and it really shows – the result is 280bhp but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Yes, there’s more power and that is instantly noticeable, but the torque is increased to 366Nm and their development has centred around making the torque curve flatter and more progressive.

The reworked motor really is very impressive, it’s in no way peaky or abrupt (as you may expect with 280hp from a 2.0 engine), you can mash the accelerator into the carpet and it doesn’t scrabble or wrench the wheel out of your hands, the power comes in progressively and the torque builds and builds. This means you have a car that is really fast, but also very usable and driveable in all conditions. In all my years driving I’ve never driven a tuned car that felt less tuned, if that makes any sense. I’d honestly say that it is far better to drive than the standard JCW which is high praise indeed.

Anyway, instead of me just writing about it, you can also see Christian and I waffling about it in a video! And you get to hear the great sounding exhaust too. Enjoy!

The Mulgari Icon 02 is only in the competition until midnight on Sunday so get your tickets now!