Mini JCW Challenge | Spotted


With a new Mini GP on the horizon, focus inevitably turns to the cars which have preceded it. Anyone who's considered either a GP1 or GP2 will know they cling to their value like a boiled sweet to linen, only the leggiest early cars now dipping below £10k. The best GP2 are still for sale at above £20,000, a reflection of the regard in which they're held. Rare, exciting and boisterously good fun, both supercharged and turbocharged GPs quite deservedly have a great reputation amongst those who've driven and owned them. The next car has a lot to live up to...

There's another limited-edition Mini that deserves as much attention, though. The Challenge was launched in 2016, taking parts from the same suppliers used for the Challenge race series: Nitron adjustable dampers, Mintex brakes, Team Dynamics wheels and a Quaife limited-slip differential. Add into that Michelin Cup 2 tyres, one of the most raucous exhausts ever fitted to a hot hatch and a standard six-speed manual (with no auto offered), and all the ingredients were there for a cracking hot hatch.


So it proved, too, the Challenge giving a great account of itself in a damp duel with the Golf Clubsport S at Donington Park. While the VW proved ultimately the better car, that's nothing to be ashamed of - the GTI CS is one of the greatest hot hatches of this century. Instead the Challenge showed off the fact that this F56 generation of Mini could really be a fun and rewarding hot hatch. Where the regular Cooper S could feel podgy and inert, the Challenge was incisive, sharp and precise. Just as importantly it was engaging and entertaining, exhaust crackling and dynamism clear for all to feel. Until this car, the current Mini had come across as a little too staid and serious - the Challenge changed that, and bodes very well for the GP.

Therefore, although it doesn't have the GP cachet, the Challenge deserves to be considered as one of the Mini greats. It's rarer than any GP, too; originally 100 were meant to be made, but now it's commonly believed that only 53 were made for the UK market, a tiny number against the 2,000 global run of each GP.


This Challenge is from early in the run, #6 of 53, and has covered 16,000 miles across two years and two owners. At present, it's the only one currently for sale on PH, at £25,980. No doubt many will see that as prohibitive for a tuned Mini, a paltry £6k of depreciation in 24 months, but as the GPs have proved, the limited run cars do have a knack of retaining their value well. While there are never guarantees about residual values, it'd be a surprise to see the Challenge plummet given it follows a familiar template to the GPs.

As for alternatives, that Golf is still more expensive - this one is £29k with more miles - and, as mentioned, the old GP2 can cost almost £25k still. The Audi A1 quattro is interesting, another limited run hot hatch that looks great and was thoroughly overhauled from standard, but that will cost thousands more for an older and, frankly, less entertaining car.


So while the Challenge may well become even more forgotten about once the new GP arrives, it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. With genuine motorsport influence, a real sense of genuine Mini cheekiness about it and rarity a lot of supercars can't match, it's a far better hot hatch than it's probably known for. Of course something similar could be made for less money, but that's missing the point. The Challenge is a great fast Mini, a point that deserves celebrating more emphatically than it currently is.


SPECIFICATION - MINI JCW CHALLENGE
Engine:
1,998cc, four-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 231@5,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 236@1,250-4,800rpm
MPG: 42.2
CO2: 155g/km
First registered: 2017
Recorded mileage: 16,000
Price new: £32,000
Yours for: £25,980

See the original advert here.


 

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Comments (8) Join the discussion on the forum

  • The Prof 09 Jul 2019


    I bought one new and ran it for a year and a half.

    25k miles later, I sold it for £22k.

    My back still hurts thinking about how hard the suspension was, pretty brutal on the road and no use on bumpy backroads - was superb on the brands hatch challenge edition track day though.

    Jb4 plug and play tuning box was a great upgrade - highly recommended ( I’ve still got it if anybody wants to make me an offer )

    I might do it all again, but I’d go for a standard jcw with the exhaust and a jb4 and forget the nitrons.

    PS - still think my old r53 jcw was better


  • Drekly 09 Jul 2019

    The Prof said:
    I bought one new and ran it for a year and a half.

    25k miles later, I sold it for £22k.

    My back still hurts thinking about how hard the suspension was, pretty brutal on the road and no use on bumpy backroads - was superb on the brands hatch challenge edition track day though.

    Jb4 plug and play tuning box was a great upgrade - highly recommended ( I’ve still got it if anybody wants to make me an offer )

    I might do it all again, but I’d go for a standard jcw with the exhaust and a jb4 and forget the nitrons.

    PS - still think my old r53 jcw was better
    That is interesting coming from an actual owner. Read a few reports that it is really firm. Which makes it rather pointless if your goal is to use as a B road weapon rather than as a track car.

    The daftest thing I read was the evo mag review complaining it was too hard when they themselves supposedly helped set the suspension up.

    Like you I look at the maths and a lightly tweaked JCW with better tyres seems to make much more sense. Faster (with some of the change spent on a remap now they are coming out of warranty), several grand cheaper, better ride quality. I'm sure you could put a package together if you wanted coilovers and an LSD. A tuned F56 JCW could also undercut a GP2 in price. It won't be as rare or special admittedly, but if you want a fast mini and spending under £20k it makes a lot of sense if you factor in age, mileage, build quality, having a 2.0 engine.



  • cerb4.5lee 09 Jul 2019

    Drekly said:
    The daftest thing I read was the evo mag review complaining it was too hard when they themselves supposedly helped set the suspension up.
    It made me smile when I read that at the time too.

    Coincidentally I only watched the PH video of this yesterday and I didn't think that the Mini came out too well in it being fair. The price and engine got hammered, and if it isn't that usable on the road it seems pretty pointless to me...unless you have a race track in your back garden.

  • The Prof 09 Jul 2019

    I did make enquiries with nitron about supplying a set of less extreme shocks for it, but decided to move it on instead as was racking up too many miles.

    I didn’t laugh too much when I read the Evo review as it was on their earlier articles about the car’s initial development that made me buy it in the first place !!



    Edited by The Prof on Tuesday 9th July 19:05

  • VeeFource 6 days ago

    Would have thought the Audi S1 would be a better alternative than the A1 quattro. Maybe not quite as hardcore but a lot more affordable and right hand drive. It's also looking like a one off given Audi have confirmed they won't be doing it again with the new A1.

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