What is it?
On the same day I drove the new Mini JCW GP, I drove a Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupé. The two are not rivals, I know.
But take a look at their respective statistics. The Porsche is a near 2.2-tonne SUV with a 3.5-tonne towing limit and can haul a family. The Mini is a strictly two-seat, 1255kg street racer with 302bhp. Knowing nothing else but that, which do you think ought to be the better driver’s car? Alas, no. What a pity.
This is the third-generation Mini GP, limited to 3000 examples (575 for the UK). The first Mini GP was a run-out special that became more than the sum of its parts in 2006, what with its diddy red door mirrors, no rear seats and limited-slip differential.
Another came in 2013 – affectionately known as the GP2 – and while it too was quite impressive, it was by then also quite expensive.
Now there's this. It has a four-cylinder turbocharged engine like the regular JCW, but whose power has been lifted to 302bhp from 5000-6250rpm and torque boosted to 332lb ft at 1750-4500rpm – both tidy increases (of 74bhp and 98lb ft) over the standard JCW. There’s a stiffened crank with a new bearing, a bigger turbocharger, new pistons and conrods and, appropriately, more cooling to go with it. It is, then, yet again the fastest production Mini made so far, a fact common to all three during their time. This wouldn’t have particularly mattered to how pleasing the first one was, but it has continued as a GP trope. This one can do 164mph and 0-62mph in 5.2sec.
The rear seats are again absent, it’s exclusively available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox (curiously) and the price is £35,345. Gulp. But the suspension is 10mm lower than the regular JCW’s, plus there are funky body add-ons, including a rear spoiler that could have come from a Gran Turismo concept, and 18in wheels with greater offsets to better fill those new carbonfibre arch extensions. Racy.