Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The £29k asking price leaves no room for excuses here. If anything, you have a right to expect more straight-line speed than you’d get from larger but cheaper hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST and Vauxhall Astra VXR.

What you actually get doesn’t quite meet that standard, but it’s nonetheless impressive for a 1.6-litre supermini. The GP’s throttle response is as sharp as any turbocharged front-driver we can think of, its powerband broad and its shift quality deliberate. 

Wheelspin is apparent, even in third gear on straight roads

It would obliterate a Toyota GT86 in a drag race. It would also outsprint a Focus ST and an Astra VXR to 100mph, thanks to its far shorter gearing. The Renault Mégane 265 offers a little more accelerative performance for less money; the BMW M135i offers a lot more for not much extra outlay, as does a Nissan 370Z.

Beyond those, you need to resort to Caterham Sevens and Lotus Elises – machines with far less everyday usability – to get more performance for the same cash.

So despite the high price, the GP just about pulls its weight on sheer pace; it’s not outstanding but it competes. It doesn’t do so without compromise, though. You’ll need to warm those Kumho tyres on a grippy track to access the last five per cent of the car’s traction, for example.

And the price you pay for that performance most of the time is with a slightly noisy motorway cruise. Our noise meter peaked at 71dB when recording the JCW GP’s 70mph cruising refinement. A Porsche 911 Turbo is only 1dB louder at that speed.

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