Photo Credit: Uwe Fischer/MINI USAIn mid-May, MINI United 2012, the biennial owners convention/festival that occurs in a different part of Europe or the United Kingdom every two years, attracted more than 30,000 MINI fans from 50 different countries—some even driving their MINIs as far as 6,490 km (4,032 miles) from the outer reaches of Russia to attend the event (or from Munich, Germany, as in my case).
The fun-filled three day weekend, which took place at Circuit Paul Ricard, the location of Formula One grand prix, featured a wide range of activities and events including car racing, stunt driving, test drives, track drives and go-cart racing to a showcase of historic and celebrity-designed MINIs.
While highlights of the event included a world-class music festival that featured such well-known acts as Iggy (Pop) and the Stooges, The Ting Tings, Gossip and Charlie Winston, among many others, the real star of the weekend was the unveiling of the new MINI John Cooper Works GP, which will be launched as a limited edition in the fall. The MINI John Cooper Works GP is the sportiest road-registered MINI ever built as this one was designed to deliver extreme performance on both the race track and the road.
"It is the most powerful and sportiest MINI car ever," said Jörg Weidinger, head of development for the MINI John Cooper Works GP, at the unveiling (see photo). "It was conceived for the racetrack and without any compromises for road use or the race track."
Indeed, the “GP” tag on the model title indicates this vehicle’s incredible potential. The GP’s chassis configuration, the effectiveness of its race-spec braking system, the grip offered by its likewise bespoke racing tires, and its aerodynamic properties have been honed into a high-performance whole on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, the erstwhile venue for Formula One races and lauded as the world’s most challenging race track. The MINI John Cooper Works GP lapped the Grand Prix course in 8 minutes and 23 seconds, beating the lap time set by its predecessor, the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, by almost 19 seconds.
The sportiest road-registered MINI ever made has a twin-scroll turbo engine that generates outstanding torque, displays remarkable elasticity and demonstrates a healthy appetite for revs. Its custom developed, adjustable race suspension channels a superlative output into spectacular yet precisely controllable handling.
The sleek design of the body also gives the MINI John Cooper Works GP ideal aerodynamic balance in extreme driving situations, which is a key element in delivering that handling flair. Its large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser which optimizes airflow around the underbody. The interior also contributes to the car’s inspirational racing feeling; with the rear seats removed, it focuses solely on the needs of the driver and co-driver.
This isn’t the first time a MINI with racing qualities has been available to the public. Extreme driving was first made possible in a small car when the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit was unveiled in 2006. The previous generation’s output of 214 hp in the U.S. (134 hp per liter of displacement) and similarly impressive reserves of racing technology has made this package a sought-after collector’s item today.
The new MINI John Cooper Works GP respectfully pays homage to its erstwhile predecessor, but this time the British luxury brand has designed a vehicle with features that are nothing short of exceptional. Like the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, the MINI John Cooper Works GP will be in similarly short supply with just 2,000 units produced, which will include cars to be sold in the U.S. Pricing and the volume allocated for U.S customers has not yet been announced. Visit MINIUSA.com to learn more.