MF Vault: JCW GP Road Trip


First we gave you another look at our full review of the JCW GP. Then we took you back to our last drive in the R53 JCW. Today, for MF’s month long celebration of JCW, we give you one of our most memorable drives in the GP – from St Louis to Indy during MTTS. We pick up the story just as our bags hit the ground at home after the trip.

I had just one day – St Louis to Indy. And I was dedicated to making it one to remember. So early this morning Todd and I (up way too early) shook off the cobwebs and headed out to the official MTTS meeting point – the St Louis Arch. At this point the GP was starting to sink in as a real live car and I must say that it was getting better looking the more I saw it.

After our Arch photo opp was over I was handed the keys to a GP courtesy of MINI USA. I might add that this particular car was broken in by none other than Fireball Tim and Hubie (the men responsible for the fastest MINI drag-car in the world). So I got some quality time to the tune of about four hours with the GP. First impressions: better than wow. This car is a complete package like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s not the fastest MINI out there, just the most complete MINI I’ve ever drive. MINI and BMW did a great job inside and out with the small details. The look of the car really makes sense in the real world as compared to the 2D world as seen on this site or countless magazines. In other words, don’t make your mind on this car’s looks until you’ve seen it in the flesh.

Driving The GP

I started out the drive telling Hubie that I’d probably still prefer a normal four seat ’06 over the GP if I were ordering today. By the middle I had realized that the GP would have to be given serious thought in the ordering process. At the end of the trip there was no doubt in my mind that I would have to order a GP if I were getting one of the last 2006 MINIs. It’s that good.

The power throughout the range was just phenomenal. It’s basically a JCW+. It just has a little bit more of everything. Power down low, up high and every conceivable flat spot has been eliminated in the middle. And the car just wants to rev and rev all the way to redline. This is just a different beast altogether as compared to my pullied stock MCS. And with the JCW suspension the car not only is better handling and more composed at the limit, it’s also surprisingly comfortable – even more so than my stock MCS.

With the JCW GP, MINI has succeeded in creating the ultimate factory R53 in every way.

I was very fortunate to get to know the car through all sorts of weather conditions and over almost every kind of road imaginable. And for that I must give a huge thanks to MINI USA, Fireball Tim and Hubie for bending schedules and accommodating me so graciously. While I’m giving thanks I should also give a tip of the hat to both Taylor and Todd for everything they helped with.

[ Gabe’s MTTS Photos (St Louis to Indy) ]
  • Ulrich Diederich

    Sounds fantastic but I just never cared for the body kit design. The fender flares did not flow into the front bumper or the side skirts. They just looked like they were designed by someone who didn’t know what the rest of the car looked like.

  • RB

    Of the 2 GP’s I’ve driven I have to say my only complaint has been cabin noise. One had added sound deadening the other factory stock. One I drove from Florida to California for the owner and I never got tired of the rasp of that exhaust, it was the one with the added sound deadening material. While I’ve only driven the other short distances around LA I wonder if the noisy cabin would be a problem on that same long trip?

    As to your comments about the power range I found myself having to be really careful that I was tach vigilant going through the gears as it was very easy to get into the red zone as it was that much quicker than my 2004 MCS.

    I’m still storing my friends GP for a little longer but it will be sad to see it go though I rarely take it out.

    As you said in person it’s striking and I was one of the haters of the colour scheme when it was only seen here and a few other places online. I saw my 1st one at MTTS Laguna Seca.

    Nice write up, I remember it.

  • Professor

    Such a fun car to drive. The ultimate Mini in the persons opinion.

  • Darin Canning

    Its a car that becomes a friend. Noise phenominal, its the echo of its heartbeat GP 1323