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JCW GP: The fastest Mini yet!

2012-09-08 11:19

PURELY FOR FUN: No back seat, Recaros up front, 242km/h - the limited-edition Mini JCW GP is a track tool for the road.

The Mini John Cooper Works GP, the fastest Mini yet built - will go on sale in South Africa in the first quarter of 2013 but order now – numbers will be limited!

Just a few of the features:

Two seats, 160kW, coil-over suspension, sports brakes, model-specific 17” alloy rims, aerodynamic body parts, 0-100 in 6.3sec, 242km/h, Nürburgring North Loop in 8min23 - the fastest Mini yet built.


The cars have the latest John Cooper Works motorsport technology and their official debut will be at the 2012 Paris auto show on September 29. Only 2000 will be assembled.

Mini’s BMW parent says the cars with their track-developed technology will have the looks to match their performance technology. It all begs the question: will these amazing little cars, with their more than 50-year heritage, EVER stop developing?

Image gallery

“This car also carved out a highly successful career in motor sport, where it was three-times winner of the Monte Carlo Rally,” BMW says. Though of course the modern cars have not a whit of a comparison (except that they both had/have a four-cylinder engine) and even the brand name Mini has, for marketing purposes been changed to capital letters – MINI.

Nevertheless, the aura remains though most new-century buyers will even have sat in one of the originals.

“The most impressive incarnation to date of Cooper’s shared passion for motor sport was the 2006 Mini Cooper S with the then John Cooper Works GP tuning kit,” the automaker says. “That model, too, was built in a limited edition of 2000 and soon became a coveted collector’s item.”

Which is another reason to pay now, drive later...


The Mini John Cooper Works GP, BMW says, “is another stunning example of the time-tested principle of taking the natural sporty DNA of the Mini to a new level by combining it with a whole string of features taken straight from the race track”.

The John Cooper Works brand is now a sub-brand of Mini.

The JCW GP, with the time (above) at the Ring, has pared 18 seconds off its predecessor’s best lap. One wonders what will come next...

Among the highlights of this latest JCW are the aluminium cylinder block and bearing mounts, reinforced pistons, sturdier cylinder head, lighter cranks and sodium-filled exhaust valves.

Taken straight from BMW is twin-scroll turbocharging and direct fuel-injection with variable valve control. Normal maximum torque is 260Nm from only 1750rpm but another 20Nm is callable for brief bursts over 2000rpm. Maximum power is 160kW at 6000rpm, sent to the tar through a six-speed manual transmission.

BMW says the turbo engine is “outstandingly efficient” at a claimed 7.1 litres/100km with CO2 emissions at 165g/km.


The JCW GP also comes (a first for the car) with individually adjustable coil-over suspension which can drop the body by a maximum of 20mm – something that will please those brave enough to take their automotive gem to a racetrack.

The front shocks are upside-down in the tube to, the automaker says, increase longitudinal and lateral stiffness and the front camber is greater than that of the standard Mini so the GP’s performance sports tyres “can be used to full effect, without the penalties of early understeer and consequent increased tyre wear”.

“Other features,” we’re told, “include reduced front-wheel toe-in and increased rear camber, which alters the forward weight transfer to give more speed and closer-to-neutral steering when driving close to the limit.

“At the same time, the reduced toe-in improves agility and cornering confidence.”


Race-tested brakes - six-piston fixed-calliper vented 330/25mm discs up front and 280/10mm at the rear - lurk inside the model-specific 17” alloys that are wrapped in 215/40 sports tyres. Standard 205/45 rubber is also available on the same wheels for wet and cold conditions.

The 7.5x17 rims, we’re told, were specially developed for the JCW GP from those on the Mini Challenge race car.

On the Mini John Cooper Works GP, the stability control is NOT combined with traction control as on other Minis but instead has a racing mode. Here’s why:

Under hard driving (as on a track) the driver may not want the systems to reduce engine power to avoid wheelspin so the GP’s system has only ASC braking based on the electronic differential lock control sub-function which brakes the inner wheel through a curve and send the spare power to the outer driven wheel where natural lean increases contact pressure with the tar.

Certainly the GP will be noticed on the road. The shell is exclusively finished in metallic grey with red edging on the bonnet opening, exterior mirrors and apron air vents and there are JCW insignia on the lower air intake and the tail hatch.

“GP” side stripes run from front to rear wheel arches.


Further spec includes xenon headlights in black shells, fog lights, sun protection glazing, aircon, large front and rear aprons, striking sills and a roof spoiler. A rear diffuser, underbody sheeting and the spoiler reduce lift at the rear axle by a claimed 90 per cent at high speed.

Airflow round the GP’s nose has been significantly eased with a large spoiler and aerodynamic shielding under the engine. Slits in the centre of the shield help to accelerate air through the turbo’s intercooler.

The cabin, of course, lacks a rear seat. Those in the front are full race Recaro units with GP stitching.

The JCW steering wheel is thick and leather, the shifter has a chromed ring with a red shift diagram (race drivers look at the shift pattern?).

BMW also feels the anthracite roof liner, “piano-black” interior surfaces and door grips and anthracite rev counter and speedometer “help to improve the driver’s concentration and focus on the road”.


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