The Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Knights Edition is not my favorite car I’ve tested. It’s harsh and it’s expensive. But it’s also loud. Delightfully, stupidly loud. That’s because it has a Bluetooth-controlled exhaust, which is one of the dumbest and best features I’ve ever seen.
The exhaust, which is a dealer-installed feature included in the Knights Edition special version but available on other JCW Minis, is a dual-mode setup. There’s a street mode and a “track-only” mode, which you’re warned to only use on a closed course.
Translation: noise restrictions need not apply. This is dealer equipment, sold for track use only. All bets are off, scream to your heart’s content.
And by God, the JCW does. For fear of being reported to the FBI or possibly the Mini legal team, I will say that I definitely did not try the track-only mode on a public road.
If I had, however, I would have found it to be the best-sounding exhaust on a factory-ish four-cylinder car. It’s obnoxious and hilarious and just plain stupid. And if you engage the car’s sport mode, it also dumps droplets of fuel into the exhaust when you lift to create those delightful pops and crackles.
So under acceleration, it screams, on lift-off, it crackles and on downshifts it bangs. All from a car the size of a peanut.
But any dual-mode exhaust can offer a “track mode” that defies all restrictions, like the setup on the Shelby GT350. The reason I loved the system in the Mini is that you get this amazing Bluetooth remote to control it.
Sure, twisting a knob to engage track mode is great, but you know what’s better? Clicking a metal handheld remote reminiscent of a detonator and labeled “TRACK USE ONLY.” It feels like you’re getting away with something.
Which, of course, you aren’t. Because you’d only use this on a closed-course or track, like me.