Exclusive: MINI Cancels the Coupe GP

According to sources on both sides of the Atlantic, MINI has cancelled the highly anticipated JCW GP Coupe. Throughout the spring we had seen GP Coupe in prototype form roaming the streets of Bavaria looking ready to launch sometime in 2013. Based on the R56 hatch GP, the Coupe would have been an interesting product. With less weight loss than the R56 hatch based GP (which loses two seats that are already gone in the Coupe), the GP Coupe never quite seemed like it had the clear reason for being that traditional JCW GP does.

But why did MINI go through the trouble of developing the car before simply canceling it?

According to those same sources MINI was concerned that the GP Coupe would have possibly made the R56 GP less special and less unique. Could it be that MINI is now having second thoughts of making the GP a full line-up of track-ready high performance models? We’re not entirely sure if that idea is dead but clearly MINI wants to protect the brand and choose its products carefully.

That said one of our sources are adamant that the GP Coupe was cancelled but may not be permanently dead. Knowing that MINI has developed the car, it likely wouldn’t take long or much money to bring it to market late in the life-cycle of the Coupe.

  • jbkONE

    As someone who wasn’t going to buy one (unless I came into $40k I didn’t need) all I can say is that’s a damn shame. They probably wouldn’t sell too many of them and it would have been fun to see one in the wild.

  • JackMac

    It was a little hard to rationalize having a 2-seater GP hardtop and a 2-seater GP coupe. Why not simply keep the rear seats in the hardtop and offer both models? All this talk of expanding the GP line, and now it appears to be dead before it began. Doesn’t really make sense, especially if you want to make the most of your development costs. I wonder if MINI sources are yanking our chain here to drive R56 GP sales, and we will get an R58 GP at a later date. Hmmmm.

  • To me, this thinking seems absolutely backwards. If the GP is to be the uncompromising be-all, end-all track car (sans rear seats), why wouldn’t MINI use the more wedge-shaped, more aerodynamic, and arguably better-handling Coupe instead of the brick-like, higher center-of-gravity standard 2-door? The new coupe is clearly the better platform to make a lighter, performance GP out of, at least in my opinion…

  • b-

    I really dont see how they can make a sub-brand if they are afraid to build more than one model. They weren’t afraid that the R56 GP would make the 2006 GP any less special so what the heck? It is not like they will produce both cars and sell them at the same time and people will choose the coupe and the hatch will sit at the dealers unsold, these will be limited and once they are gone they are gone and believe me, there are PLENTY of people who would NEVER buy the coupe because they don’t like the styling.

    I just can’t understand some of the decisions MINI is making as of late.

  • Kurtster

    Well that kind of puts my mind at ease in a way. I have a deposit placed on the GP but I really prefer the Coupe’s styling. I just can’t wait until next year for a car so I figured I’d get the regular GP. One concern I had was that I’d see the GP Coupe somewhere and always regret buying the hardtop version. Now that concern is laid to rest because there won’t be a GP Coupe. I don’t understand why people don’t like the Coupe but I hear it isn’t selling well, which may be another reason this got cancelled. I believe that the MINI Coupe design will grow on people over the next few years as the Z3 Coupe did. Now the Z3 Coupe is a bit of a classic and is desired by many Z3 fans. When it came out people trash-talked it.

    • JackMac

      I’ve driven a JCW Coupe and it is a fantastic car. Certainly a great platform for a GP. I still think this may be misinformation from MINI to help with R56 GP sales. We’ve seen photos of R58 GP cars in development. When have they ever gone this far into the development process and then cancelled a car? Never. This report makes no sense at all. I still call BS, but time will tell.

    • r.burns

      Many car fans still think that the Z3 coupe is an ugly car and you can count me among these people

  • ulrichd

    Works for me. Use the resources to bring the Rocketman to market.

  • JonPD

    Pretty much cheeses me off. The Coupe was brought out as the sports model in the brand. The JCW version has all the same glaring weaknesses that has been a sore point with me for a long while. I was hoping that a Coupe GP would have addressed this glaring hole. Add to my anger at MINI that I am sure the R60 GP is still on the books. So instead of taking the self announced sports car and making a top end version of it we are going to get a sportier version of their micro SUV.

    I surely hope this report is dead wrong to say the least!

  • I see it this way: the JCW line is the ///M line up for MINI. The GP would be the CSL or GTR special edition M3. There can only be one in the line up. Expect JCW of the other models, but the GP will only be the bread and butter model, the Cooper. Not the worst thing in the world honestly. It does keep that GP special though.

  • Edge

    I believe the story.  I too heard (2nd hand, from a non-MF and non-WRR source) about the GP Coupe not being released.

    However, in some way, it makes sense… for now.  The R58 Coupe is a brand new model.  It will be available for a number of years to come, well after the F56 is released.  Why release a GP R58 now?  It would make much more sense to me if they released one right as the R58 model was coming to an end.

    I guess we’ll see what happens in a few years! 🙂

    • That is a VERY interesting theory, Edge. Perhaps the previously discussed GP line of cars will end up as a series of special edition, high-performance versions of selected model variants as they reach the end of their generation. I like that idea a lot!

      • Edge

        Well, it only seems to make sense… that’s what they did with the R53 and now the R56. They didn’t bother with the R52, and I doubt they will either with the R57 or R59. The general view of MINI, it seems, is that convertible buyers aren’t as performance-oriented, because they are willing to accept a less rigid frame to get the open-top motoring. Proof that MINI has that view is that the JCW suspension was simply not made available for the convertible models.

        I would expect the same view to be had for the R55, as in my experience, the longer wheelbase is a handling performance compromise over the R56 (although less so than the R60). What surprises me most is the possibility of the Paceman / Countryman Coupe / R61. Rallying aside, it still just doesn’t strike me as a “performance-oriented” model due to the higher weight and center of gravity. I would expect Gabe to be correct (above) that if they make a special edition R61, it won’t be called a GP.

        Regardless, it will be interesting to watch. Pass the popcorn (especially if it’s free ).

        • r.burns

          Paceman is lower than Countryman

        • Edge

          Lower than a Countryman… OK. I’m betting it will still feel notably bigger and heavier than the R56 or R58, which was my point.

        • Sure, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be any fun.

    • Yes that’s pretty much what the plan was and what we reported earlier this year. However MINI is going to be very careful with the GP name and may even end up naming the Paceman special edition (which wouldn’t be due for a few more years) something other than “GP”.

    • JonPD

      I still believe in only releasing the GPs at the end of he production runs. JCW is still well behind being truly a sub brand, I believe that GP’s could do a much better job aligning with ///M. I like halo products but GPs only at the end of a production run feels like a last minute celebration of retired technology. I believe that it would have much more relevance in mid production cycle and then use end or production cycle to step the game up for a halo version of a GP. To me this is a model very similar to ///M.

    • JackMac

      Yes, pretty much what I have been saying too. I still expect that we will see an R58 GP later in the production cycle, and that not that it is “cancelled” as the headline reads.

  • Ah man….that was going to be my next car.

  • Herr26

    What I have heard is that it is put back on the shelf for later. The MINI GP is the priority for the time being and they simply did not want customers trading in their GP’s for the Coupe GP some six months down the line. Expect the car later, after the launch of the F56 in order to keep some appeal for the Coupe in its twilight years. They still want to use GP as an exclusive performance offshoot of GP but they dont want to overcrowd it at first.