All the power - and front-wheel drive.
Those hot hatch enthusiasts in the market for something very exclusive will be heartened by news of Mini’s latest JCW GP now being available in South Africa.
Although Mini is viewed as a fashion vehicle brand by many, the agile nature and dedicated engineering applied to these compact hatchbacks, make them an excellent choice for the keen driver.
The JCW Minis have done much to establish a reputation for the brand in South Africa. Back in 2006, the first John Cooper Works GP kit was seen on a local Cooper S. This was followed in 2013 by another generation of JCW GP. On both occasions, only 30 of each were imported and distributed to the South African market, guaranteeing exclusivity for their owners.
Mini has continued to follow this marketing strategy with the latest JCW GP and will only sell 38 of these dramatic hot hatches in the local market. Sadly, they're all gone, with the press release from Mini South Africa stating, "Only customers who had registered their interest via MINI South Africa’s channels were eligible to purchase one of the 38 units, in the process dashing the hopes of hundreds of local racing enthusiasts who had also been eager to get their hands on one."
Dedicated driving machine
Remaining true to its JCW GP heritage, this latest version has all the dramatic styling upgrades you can imagine. There are flared wheel arches and a huge fixed rear roof spoiler, with double contour edges.
Inside there the Mini JCW GP is strictly a two-seater, with a bright red strut beam replacing its rear seats. This is inarguably a Mini for the driving enthusiasts, not someone who needs anything approaching a useable hatchback family car.
Styling and design elements aside, the JCW GP is a dedicated performance vehicle. Mini’s engineers have optimised the platform for overall rigidity, to deliver agile and directs responses to all driver inputs. It rides 10mm lower than a conventional JCW and features a specific damper tune and steering geometry.
Powering the JCW GP is BMW’s 2-litre TwinPower four-cylinder engine, boosting 225 kW and 450 Nm. In context, that is a gain of 55 kW over a standard Mini JCW, which already ranks as a very credible hot hatchback.
Although the only transmission option is an eight-speed automatic, Mini’s engineers have equipped the JCW GP with a mechanically locking active differential up front. Unlike rival hot hatches with similar power and torque outputs, the JCW GP is not all-wheel drive and this shows in its 0-100kph sprint time of 5.5 seconds.
Top speed is unrestricted at 265 kph and with 90 mm exhaust tubing, it makes a very distinctive noise.
The new JCW GP becomes Mini’s most expensive product yet, in the local market, priced at R809 488.