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Mini Cooper JCW GP Edition 2013 review

EXPERT RATING
7

The fastest Mini allowed on the road will be remembered for corners rather than flat-out speed. The Mini John Cooper Works GP Edition hammers to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds.

It’s impressive, but not nearly as appetising as this car’s capacity on the twisty stuff. A reinforced chassis, race-spec suspension, massive brakes and close-ratio six-speed gearbox helping keep the engine on boost make this a back-roads or track-day weapon. Australia secured 55 of the 2000-vehicle global production run and there’s still a handful in dealers.

Value

The price is $56,900 with no options boxes to tick. That buys a track-day car fitted with xenon headlamps, foglamps, airconditioning, stability control with a ‘GP mode’ for bigger slip angles, and a Sport button to sharpen up the already acute response.

Competition comes from the Renault Megane RS265 Trophy Plus at $51,640, the $56,990 Mitsubishi Evolution and Subaru’s $59,990 WRX, though they all at least pretend to take passengers in the back. A massive strut brace just in front of the rear wheel arches restricts the Mini to two-seater duties only.

Technology 

This hot hatch is track ready, courtesy of adjustable coilover suspension to adjust the ride height by 20mm and a set of six-pot vented front brakes with more bite than a cornered politician. The stability control’s GP mode takes advantage of the upgraded hardware by only braking the inside wheel instead of also cutting engine power.

The 1.6-litre turbo engine is common to the JCW family and uses an alloy cylinder block and bearing mounts, stronger cylinder head, reinforced pistons, low-weight crankshafts and sodium-filled exhaust valves. Torque is rated at 260Nm with a 20Nm overboost feature. In this well-sorted chassis, that’s enough to propel the lightweight Mini around the Nurburgring in 8 minutes and 23 seconds.

Design

The bewinged Mini JCW GP edition started out life as a regular hatch so there’s nothing wrong with its basic proportions. The designers didn’t have much say on the inside, with the rear seat ditched to make way for the brace.

A chunky steering wheel fits well with the “go-kart with a roof” ethos. The exterior enhancements are all in the name of aerodynamics (red stripes excepted). A front apron spoiler and engine undertray shield have cut front axle lift and contributed to a six per cent drop in drag.

Safety

The rarity of the GP Edition means it is unlikely to be officially crash tested, but the Mini Cooper base car is a five-star vehicle. There are head, side and curtain airbags along with ABS brakes linked to traction and stability control. An electronic front diff lock is also part of the safety repertoire.

Driving

This is the purist’s Mini, in the sense it tracks and handles with more authority than any Mini before it and is a point-and-go rocket without being a handful. The biggest gripe with the GP Edition is the way it copes with back-road bumps, when the combination of rutted bitumen, taut suspension and rapid acceleration can briefly leave it without purchase on the road.

Even then it’s predictable: the suspension refuses to squirm to the point of unsettling the car on landing and the steering resumes tracking to the degree of steering lock. Settle the nose down into the corner and the GP Edition follows the white line like Road Runner. 

The windier the route, the better the GP does. Passengers tend to hang on and loose items need to be secured. At least the Mini gives a moment’s warning as the turbo alters the exhaust note, or the driver downshifts entering an approaching corner …

Verdict

Robust build quality and a direct steering feel puts the Mini in fun-factory territory. There are quicker cars out there but few that are as engaging, providing you are prepared to sacrifice slow-speed comfort.

Pricing guides

$17,990
Based on 38 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,370
Highest Price
$22,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,300 – 16,610 2013 Mini Cooper 2013 (base) Pricing and Specs
Baker Street 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,900 – 17,490 2013 Mini Cooper 2013 Baker Street Pricing and Specs
Bayswater 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $14,000 – 19,800 2013 Mini Cooper 2013 Bayswater Pricing and Specs
D 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $18,500 – 18,990 2013 Mini Cooper 2013 D Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7