Depending on where you look, it has been a great year for hot hatchery — the Civic Type-R has blossomed out of its hype (that took forever) and the Focus RS seems to be a compact infused with big Texas-sized dollops of Carroll Shelby’s spirit. Unfortunately, none of them are in the Middle East yet, and there isn’t any confirmation from either Honda or Ford that they will ever be here officially at all.

That left us reluctantly looking elsewhere, but it’s a good thing this little John Cooper Works number makes it impossible for you not to notice.

Yes, the Mini is all grown up, and yes it weighs 1.3-tonnes and gains an increase in size in every dimension, but even a big Mini is still the smallest thing in class, and anyway why would you say no to 231bhp and 320Nm of torque?

The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder gives the car a decidedly more refined character, but only when you’re pottering along minding your own business. Deep inside, this is still a car that arouses the inner child in you and grows little devil horns out of your forehead every time you flick the toggle start switch.

wheels first tried it in Mallorca last summer, which doesn’t provide an automotive playground that much different form the mountain roads we have in our region, and the JCW was as sure-footed as a goat over there, as it is over here.

“Just because it’s called a Mini,” argues Kinan, “doesn’t mean it has to be tiny. And don’t forget that in fact, compared to the second-gen car, this third-generation JCW doesn’t actually gain any additional weight.”

Amit wraps it up: “You know what? This could actually be the most ‘drivers’-car’ of all the drivers’ cars we have here… You can all argue with that if you want, but it’s easily the best JCW yet.”