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Mini JCW GP Edition

The 160kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four has recorded a Nurburgring lap of 8:23 minutes.

Two of a limited 55-car batch of the red-hot $56,900 Mini JCW GP Editions have set down in Australia.

And, says Mini Australia, there's no more. But that's not exactly correct. Though the limited-edition hatch versions - of which only 2000 are being offered around the world - are sold, Mini is quietly planning a similar high performance version of its Paceman. Mini Australia's Piers Scott says “there's plenty of opportunity for more to come”.

Mini has ramped up its JCW (John Cooper Works) arm to apply high-end tuning to selected models. But Mr Scott says there are no plans for JCW to become a stand-alone entity like BMW's M or Mercedes-Benz's AMG. “The JCW arm is it,” he says.

JCW was the tuning house behind the original Mini when it took on the Monte Carlo Rally in the mid-1960s, winning three of its four campaigns and missing out on a quadrella only because of rival Citroen protested about Mini's choice of headlight bulb.

The new car is an extension of the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit that was available in 2006. The latest JCW GP Edition is the fastest production Mini ever made and is classed as a “track-ready race car homologated for everyday driving”. Mini Australia was allocated 30 cars but in December won an extra 25, taking the total to 55. Nearly all are pre-sold.

The 160kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four has recorded a Nurburgring lap of 8:23 minutes, its performance attributed to the hot engine, lighter body weight and modified suspension and brakes with a race-bred traction control system. Engine modifications are claimed to include reinforced cylinder head and pistons, sodium filled exhaust valves and a lightweight crankshaft.

The body has a special aerodynamics package with underbody panels to reduce drag and a carbon-fibre rear wing to improve downforce. Inside it has heated leather Recaro seats with red stitching and a knee brace. The JCW GP has only one specification and no options.