This is the best version of the first Mini, for the stiffened suspension doesn't ruin its composure. But at £22,000 and with only two seats, it's also the most expensive and impractical.

Our Verdict

Mini GP

Can the Mini GP deliver the sparkle that befits the fastest Mini in production?

  • First Drive

    Mini Cooper S Works GP

    This is the best version of the first Mini, for the stiffened suspension doesn't ruin its composure.
24 July 2006

What's new?

Ahead of the all-new Mini, BMW’s first version receives a final flourish of the after-market pen with this limited edition run of 2000 units, to be built by Bertone.

Other than an 8bhp increase from the supercharger over a standard Mini Cooper S Works, the car receives some exclusive exterior styling that includes aerodynamic bumpers, red wing mirrors and a graphic of your car’s production number on the silver roof.

There are 50kg worth of weight saving ideas too, including aluminium control arms for the rear suspension (saving 15kg), 18-inch matt black four-spoke alloys (shaving a further 8kg) and a carbon fibre roof spoiler.

Inside, a production number stamp appears on the silver dash and there are some beautifully finished Recaro race seats with blood red stitching. Look in your rear view mirror and you’ll also find those rear seats have been replaced with a polished strut brace.

What's it like?

Do you like the looks? The reason I say this is because the performance gains are very marginal. The reduction in sound-proofing may allow the Roots-type supercharger to resonate through the cabin and make the car ‘feel’ quicker, but the GP only manages to shave 0.2 seconds from the 0-62mph dash of the regular Cooper S Works.

So what you’re paying for here is aesthetics. In Autocar Towers, opinion was divided: some drivers adored the extra attention; some considered it the wrong sort of attention and didn’t think the macho bolt-on addenda fitted with the Mini’s stumpy body.

It’s more special than to be considered a mere fashion accessory though. On the twisty stuff, the GP feels more direct and lithe, and the Recaros offer great support, but it doesn’t really feel much stiffer. Lift off and the exhaust does its own rich version of snap, crackle and pop.

The ride height has been dropped by 10mm and the GP uses stiffer springs and dampers. You’d think that this would make the ride as stiff as a board, but impressively, it feels supple and offers huge levels of grip.

The six-speed ‘box feels sharp and precise but the GP offers so much torque that you rarely feel the need to row through the gears.

Should I buy one?

Unfortunately, all 459 cars destined for the UK have already been sold. This is the best incarnation yet, but a £22k Mini with only two seats? You could buy a Clio 197 and have £6k change.

Jon Quirk

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