Though it shouldn’t be, the Mini JCW Challenge is easily forgotten about. This most recent F56 era of Cooper S has never really captured the imagination like the first two 21st century Minis, inevitably more mature yet inexplicably less stylish as well. Those who are concerned with the fast ones will probably recall the GP first, remember that it was auto-only and a tad underwhelming for a 300hp Mini, then not think about 2.0-litre Coopers for a while.
Launched back in 2016, the Challenge really deserves some recognition. Especially with the GP not quite delivering on the promise, plus the demise of the manual in Minis recently announced. It was as good as the F56 got, and it was actually very good indeed. Modifications to this particular example should make it even better still.
As standard, the Challenge benefitted from a host of upgrades to the suspension, brakes and exhaust. They were from the same suppliers that provided parts for the Mini Challenge race cars, including Nitron dampers, Mintex brakes, Quaife limited-slip diff and Team Dynamics wheels. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres were standard fit, and a really silly exhaust was also included.
The Challenge was a hoot, pointy and willing where a JCW was remarkably plain for a hot Mini. Yet buyers weren’t that interested at £32,000, and so just 53 were sold here when the original plan was for 100. When the GP came, the UK received 575 of the 2,000-unit production run, at £34,995. It’s easy to imagine much more excitement around a motorsport-inspired Mini now, with the end of such hot hatches nigh.
So it’s already interesting and rare, but this Challenge also benefits from around £4k’s worth of mods from Mini specialists Lohen for around 290hp. That includes an ECU remap, upgraded intercooler, new panel filter, braided lines and Eibach anti-roll bar, all of which should make it even more fun to drive. It’s being sold with the original parts as well, plus more road-biased Michelins, and a full Mini service history. It’s surely got to be one of the best examples of this forgotten pocket rocket.
When we last wrote about a Challenge four years ago, it was number six; with 16,000 miles, it was for sale at £25,980. Now number 40 is on offer, with 16,000 miles, for sale at £25,950. Incredible. They seem to be retaining their money pretty well, then, while still coming in at thousands less than a GP. It’s not very much more than an old GP2, in fact, which might be a fun comparison to carry out. As Minis like this and the GPs become part of the JCW past rather than its future, so they arguably look more appealing than ever.
SPECIFICATION | MINI JCW CHALLENGE
Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 231@5,200rpm (standard)
Torque (lb ft): 236@1,250-4,800rpm (standard)
First registered: 2017
Recorded mileage: 16,000
Price new: £32,000
Yours for: £25,950
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