I know it sounds ridiculous putting such outsize wheels on a MINI, especially as we've long stated that the modest 16in alloys are far better dynamically speaking than the Minilite-alike 17-inchers as fitted to our black Hartge S.
The purist in me misses the deftness of the smallest wheels and tyres, especially at speed on bumpy B-roads. Driven hard, the big JCW rims and Dunlop run-flats gain too much vertical momentum for the springs and dampers to keep under tight control, but there's no question they're better than the 17s, which always feel like they're cast from lead. They also look the business, endowing the S Works with a level of presence and menace that befits the fastest in the range. Mind you, at £1777 (including VAT and fitting) they ought to.
After acting as chase car on last month's Exige/Noble/GT3 RS/Stradale group test, during which it valiantly held the others in sight on some really serious roads, I feared for the paintwork as the road chippings thrown up by the sticky-tyred quartet resembled a meteor shower. The windscreen now bears an additional chip, but the nose proved remarkably resilient with just one scar to show for it. The paint must be like armour plate.
I'm also impressed with the MINI's reluctance to return to the dealership. Every morning I glance at the odometer, scanning for the brief appearance of the 'Service due in...' indicator, and every morning I smile as it still refuses to dip much below 5000 miles. At this rate we'll be lucky to get a stamp in the service book.