2020 Mini JCW GP: A better hot hatch than the Honda Civic Type R?
Is it the fastest Mini yet? Yes. Does it come with Rowan Atkinson still? Nope, but he might be passing you by in his McLaren F1 and may get impressed by this. Will he be impressed by the looks of it? I certainly am, and I would like to know if you are too.
Finally, we can let some steam off the constant SUV production as BMW treats us with a much needed hot hatch. And not just any hot hatch, but the fastest iteration of what Mr Atkinson used to drive when he had a show with a teddy bear. Welcome everyone to the 2020 Mini Cooper GP - the quickest and most powerful Mini ever.
Let’s get done with the adult-world numbers first shall we? Prices for this juiced up go-kart starts from around $45,000 (or £35,000) in the US with production being limited to just 3,000 units. The upcoming LA Motor Show will constitute as the perfect stage for its public debut. Deliveries for the same is said to commence from March 2020.
Now, the numbers we care about. The British brand has managed to develop its standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged engine further to put out 306hp and 450Nm of torques in this 2020 GP guise. That is 75 ponies more than what you get in the sporty yet not-the-fastest John Cooper Works edition.
If reports are accurate, this GP model is even said to have lapped the Nurburgring in under 8 minutes. How did a Mini achieve that? Quite a lot of spanner work appears to have been carried out. For instance, the turbocharger is new and now integrated into the exhaust manifold. The air intake duct has been redeveloped. The fuel injectors now spray out more fuel to provide you with more oomph. All that helps the Mini GP to procure the 0-100kph dash in just 5.2 seconds with the engine topping out (not electronically, here) at 165mph (or 265kph).
Interestingly, even though the allocated production units don’t resemble the Honda Civic Type R, what remains identical is the horsepower figure. Both offer 306hp. Both come with front-wheel drive. The Mini further comes with an integrated mechanical differential lock for the drive wheels as well. So, is this Mini GP worth the extra $7,000 - $8,000?
Three things are for sure. First, you get more exclusivity with the Mini due to the limited production. More so, Mini would also be numbering each unit with the numeric decals being imprinted on the front fender. Apparently, 0001 is already taken by a customer in the US, so you better get a move on.
Second, if you though the Type R looked outrageous, look at the Mini GP. The Type R came with quad exhausts and an insane-looking spoiler? The Mini went one step ahead, possibly straight into Azkaban, and equipped the GP with an equally large roof spoiler. Extending even beyond the car’s sideline, the spoiler involves double-wing contouring as well, for better downforce.
The unmistakable fenders, featuring air openings for better aerodynamics, have been made out of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic. In other words, the same plastic material recycled from the production of the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 has come off use here. A first for the brand and the car.
If the Type R was designed by keeping a function-over-fun mindset, this Mini GP seems no different. More model-specific feature tweaks include stiffened suspension, a tweaked exhaust system with stainless steel tailpipes, sportier 4-piston fixed-calliper disc brakes on the front wheels and front and rear aprons for smoother airflow.
Also coming equipped is a GP-mode toggle switch, right beside the red starter button for sharpened brake and engine responses. Want a driving experience akin to go-karting? This Mini JCW GP might provide you with those extra thrills, courtesy of a 10mm lowered suspension setup, in contrast to the standard JCW iteration.
Third and the final point, the Mini GP just seems like a more purposeful yet special place to sit in. I agree that one gets seating for their kids with the Honda, but the Mini gets Chili Red painted aluminium cross-brace behind the seats. A reminder that this car is only to be driven by children and not to carry them. However, the child driving it might get impressed by the Dinamica/leather combination on both seats, multiple GP badging on the inside along with red belt straps.
Assuming that the inner child in you might already be configuring their own Mini GP, I would just like to say, don’t. As standard, the Mini GP is offered in just one paint job - the same trim you see in the photos constituting of Racing Grey metallic paint with silver, red, and black trim. Which I believe is a good thing if you don’t want another unnecessarily long list of optional extras.
So, if you're in the market, looking for an alternative to the Civic Type R, this Mini GP seems like a interesting proposition. You pay more, you get lesser number of seats, the same amount of power, better interiors and possibly gadgets as well, more gears (6-speed manual in the Honda, 8-speed Steptronic sports transmission in this), more exclusivity and even more ridiculous looks. I'm starting to think I'm tilting towards the Mini here.