PH HEROES: MINI JCW GP WORKS
The new one looks the part but the first-gen Works GP was the real deal
new GP has arrived, sticking to the same, stripped-out two-seat formula but now costing almost £29,000. That makes the original car look like a bargain, but how does the drive stands up?
I borrowed BMW UK's own 11,500-mile timewarp example for the drive home from 2012 Paris motor show to find out. Sitting defiant among the concrete columns and florescent light of an underground car park, the GP bristles with immediate purpose. The bodywork addenda and red accents at once faintly ridiculous and endearing.
With total weight savings over 50kg (where buyers didn't option back the no cost air con), a proper limited slip differential, 10mm ride height reduction and fettled engine, it has all the makings of a proper pocket rocket. Starting it for the first time in a subterranean car park, the aural impact is every bit as bold as its optical clout - the whine and fizz from the supercharger seems more superbike than supermini, and it's almost impossible to resist indulging the snap of the delivery to exacerbate the way the exhaust merrily crackles and pops.
Approval swells as the journey progresses. The gearbox is light but precise, the clutch less so. The engine feels absolutely immense for just 1.6 litres - BMW's own work on the intercooler and engine-mapping adding to JCW's existing upgrade of the 'charger, intake and injection.
With a new 7,150rpm rev limit (peak power comes at 7,100) and a meaty 184lb ft at 4,600rpm, it feels good for its claimed 149mph. The suspension is remarkably supple. The Recaro seats fabulous. I want one.
You wanna piece of me?
2,000 were built, and although 449 were originally destined for the UK, according to GPMini.net only 437 actually found homes here; judging by the PH classifieds you'll be needing at least £11K to join the ownership ranks. The imminent arrival of the new version is unlikely to diminish these values. The two are similar in character, but from my own brief squirt in the new GP2, all that clever aero can't quite make up for the missing mechanical diff, and the 1.6 turbo can't match the supercharged engine for charm.
MINI COOPER S WITH JOHN COOPER WORKS GP KIT
Engine: 1,598cc supercharged four cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive with mechanical LSD
Power (hp): 218 @ 7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184 @ 4,600rpm
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
Weight: 1,195kg (EU)
On sale: 2006
Price new: £22,000
Price now: £12,000