Having made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the JCW Challenge is based heavily on the standard JCW model. It shares that car’s specifications, using a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 228bhp and 236lb ft and achieving 0-62mph in 6.3sec.
With a limited run of 52 units and destined for the UK only, the JCW Challenge is distinguished visually by enlarged front air intakes, tweaks to the wheel arch extensions and a rear spoiler. These features are part of the JCW Pro Accessories pack, which is available as an option on the standard model.
The production number pays homage to the winning Mini at the 1964 Monte Carlo rally, and each car will be built and finished at Mini’s Oxford plant.
Engineering changes include chassis, tyre and brake alterations, using suppliers that already contribute to the Mini Challenge racer.
Nicolas Griebner, Head of Product for Mini UK, said: “We wanted to promote John Cooper Works, and show we can create products that are derived from our experience at the race track, similar to what BMW did with its M cars.
“I believe there is much more potential for JCW in the UK and unlike other Minis all the development was done at Oxford, rather than by the development teams in Munich.”
“I really wanted this car to be the essence of the hot hatchback, which means it has to be usable. What we have done is create a car, with the adjustability of the suspension, which will allow you a very comfy ride. But if you want to have a spirited drive on a track then it can set up in a more aggressive way.”UK based suspension firm Nitron provides coilover spring and damper units that adjust for bump and rebound damping as well as ride height.
The car is supplied with recommended settings for both road and track.
The Challenge also features a Quaife automatic torque biasing limited-slip differential and Mintex brake pads. The car also has Team Dynamic bespoke lightweight 17in black alloy wheels, which are 0.5in wider than those on the JCW and have been chosen for ultimate performance, says Mini, reducing unsprung mass by up to 2.5kg per corner.
Priced at £32,000, which is £8950 more than the standard JCW, the JCW Challenge is available with a fixed specification including White Silver paint, a graphics package and a black roof.
Inside, there are Carbon Black cloth seats and the dashboard on the passenger side bears the build number of the model. Equipment includes rear park distance control, rain sensor with auto headlights and adaptive LED headlights.
James Loukes, Mini John Cooper Works Challenge Project Leader explained that 60 percent of these modifications would be fitted on the production line.
“All 52 will be built on the line, so we can build probably 60 percent of the additional parts in our normal production sequence, then we will need to retrofit a few bits afterwards. We managed attain all the homologation standards we needed to put the Challenge through the normal building system.
With the car being aimed at those looking to indulge in track days, the team focused very much on improving the handling of the standard car, even if meant stepping into uncharted territory for BMW, which Kris Fryers, Driving Dynamics Test Engineer at Mini’s Oxford Plant, explains.
“In the past, BMW has steered clear from differentials because the suspension set-up is so good. Traditionally we focus hard on the suspension, but on the JCW Challenge we already have a very good suspension set-up and added a diff to make it the complete package.”
Fryers also added that the decision to choose adaptive suspension was designed to give owners the opportunity to tailor their car on the track as they grow with it:
“Basically it means the car is even more direct and has more of a go-kart feeling and during testing it just about had everything else on the track.
“We could have added more power, but the standard JCW has a lot of power for the type of car it is, all we have done is made that power deliverable to the road very easily, and that is the huge difference you will notice between the two.”
Orders for the JCW Challenge are being taken now, with deliveries due later this year.