Ask MF: Sell Loaded JCW to Buy the GP?

With the GP going on pre-sale today for current or previous GP owners, more than a few of you are considering make a change. And with that in mind we bring you think week’s “Ask MF” from long time reader Karl:

My 5th and current MINI is a 2009 factory JCW – loaded with every package. You’ve written glowing reviews of the new GP. I’m on the fence and was wondering if you had a 2009 loaded JCW with 18K miles, would you hesitate to sell it and get the new GP? Is the new GP that much better?

Naturally the answer is a personal one. Let’s start with what you really value in a MINI. Do you need nav? Do you want rear seats? Do you need a sunroof? Now let’s think about what a GP is. It’s incredibly rare, and easily the fastest factory MINI at the track of all time. It’s dedicated to performance in a way that no MINI ever has been. But keep in mind that it won’t do is blow away your current JCW at a stoplight. In fact the 0-60 times should be, at most, .2 difference due to more power, a broader torque band and less weight. It’s about the total package and not HP figures.

What would we do? Having driven the car I can say definitively say I’d make the call and get on that list asap.

You can read our recent review of the GP here.

  • R.Burns

    Totally agree

  • HH

    Here is a Mini noob’s opinion… IMO, i don’t think there’s a huge difference for an everyday driver. If you wanted a limited version, you should get the GP. I had GP reserved personally and ended up pulling out because it wasn’t SIGNIFICANTLY better than the JCW… I expected the GP to be a jump from JCW… like Cooper to Cooper S and Cooper S to JCW. But its fairly close to the JCW… so I ordered the 2013 JCW instead… I think I can use a back seat every now and then, I don’t NEED to take my car to the tracks and even if I did JCW will be awesome for it as well. And I got my JCW configed to around 34000 (with discounts)… so that’s $6000 difference for me.

    • I think it depends on what your definition if significantly better is. To me it certainly fits that definition.

      • HH

        I was just talking specs… since i’ve never driven the GP…

        hmmm… would you pay $6000 more for that significance?

        • I would. And then if take a few stickers off 🙂

        • Hoover

          Exactly! At least the ones on the roof! I’d be OK with losing those immediately. I’d probably keep the others.

        • Kurtster

          Maybe in six years when they make the GP3 they’ll make it oh-my-god-that’s-the-best-mini-ever better. We’ll see. For me, this one missed that mark on a couple of fronts. If I intended to go to the track, no doubt this is a very serious car to consider. As a daily driver? Meh.

          If you really need to corner like you’re on the Nurburgring buy a set of coil overs, adjust your toe-in, mod your ECU and replace the runflats with something very sticky. You’ll enjoy probably 95% of the experience of the GP without having to give up all the stuff the GP makes you give up (and it won’t cost you $6000). If you want to get even closer have someone make some underside panels for better airflow too.

          Besides, other than a few minor options, all GPs are pretty much all the same. In a way, your custom-built JCW will be more unique because it’s been you-ified the way you want it, not the way a designer at the company insisted it be. Your chances of finding another JCW exactly like yours are actually lower than finding another GP that looks just like one that you might buy. So I think you and I are on the same page with regard to it not being different enough.

          I’m no HP snob but if it had 240HP and a 0-60 in the mid-fives I’d have found a way to hold out until March for it. As it is I’m really looking forward to my JCW Coupe, which will be one of hundreds rather than thousands (in White Silver/Red w/Recaros and premium audio with Mini Connected) and I expect it will keep up with the GP anywhere I’m likely to run into one on my daily driving.

        • JonPD

          A good post HH, you will love your JCW Coupe. To add to your comment about a GP3 I expect that GP4/GP5 will also be incrementally faster but end up in the same place as ///M where everybody fawns over the E30 being the truly special M3. I rather expect the R53 GP to grow into a similar role personally. Makes one wonder if a decade plus from now BMW/MINI will be looking at the original GP again to see how to recover some of its magic. (ie 1M).

        • HH

          awesome… I agree with you 120%

        • Amen!

      • brt356

        Gabe – your review and write-up on the GP reinforced my expectations that the GP will be a hugely fun car to drive and live with. No worries that it doesn’t have some of the creature comforts that a loaded JCW offers. I am confident that it will offer tons of smiles! I just sold my early 2009 factory JCW that had every option (except the NAV). Loved it for 4 years and found a nice home for it to make room for the GP.

        I applaud BMW/Mini for even putting the resources into this project, thinking it through from start to finish as a complete, well balanced car – equally at home on the track and street. Reading all the comments on the GP, since the Paris reveal, reminds me of the adage that you can’t please all the people, all the time. What surprises me are comments from supposedly car guys trashing the GP. The GP will be perfect for the enthusiasts who buy them, just like all the other Mini offerings. I know I will love driving my GPII, just as much as I enjoyed driving my MCS, and JCW, and my GT3, etc. It’s a car thing…and the miles of smiles that Mini’s provide their owners. Yeah, I still flash and wave to other Mini drivers…

  • les

    I would stick with the JCW. I like having all the bells and whistles. Having this GP would be like living in an old house. Everyone thinks it really cool, but it’s slightly overrated.

    • The GP is a purpose built car whose primary objective is sheer speed and performance. Bells and whistles are secondary considerations. However, a car without cruise control in 2012 is unacceptable. Here is hoping the US spec car will offer the MFSW. The GP is definitely not a taste made to please everyone.

      • les

        If I had enough money and wanted a limited edition MINI then I buy the Goodwood. At least it comes with cruise control.

      • Kurtster

        I feel the same way about Mini Connected. I never use Cruise Control but they should at least make some options available to people willing to pay for them.

  • Karl

    Gabe – I know the US spec car will have Bluetooth and Auto A/C, but will it also have cruise? I don’t use it often, but it would be nice to have it. Also, will it come with Sirius, and does the stock stereo sound OK? I know you’re supposed to listen to the engine, blah, blah, blah, but I do like my Sirius and a good sounding stereo. I’ve got the hi-fi in mine, wish I had the H/K, and would hate to take a huge step backwards in the GP.

  • Drewbrese

    If you love your JCW and have the means, then yes.

  • Evan

    If you don’t need a back seat and have the means, I’d trade in the JCW and get a GP-2.

  • fishbert

    Wait… what?! A 2009 with only 18k miles on it?! Jesus! My 2009 MCS is already pushing 85k!

  • Bob Hayhurst

    Certainly a subjective question; but it really is all in what you want. I built a JCW on the configurator the other day with a lot of options (but not recaro’s) and I hit easily 38 K w/out some of the high $$ packages.

    I like the way MINI’s handle; I love the driving experience I get while driving and if I can get one that takes the handling to the next level, then I’m there. If I thought the HP were inadequate; I’d have no problem saying so. Fact is, there’s a million other vehicles out there w/ way more power then a JCW; so for me high HP isn’t the that’s not the point.

    • That’s pretty much my view as well.

      • Same here. By my estimation, the GP is actually a bargain.

        • hoq1

          Is this the fastest factory MINI out there? Hell yeah!!! Is this a bargain??? Have you lost your mind??? Mid $30’s… sure, but $40K for a fwd 2 seater??? I agree that the performance is terrific… but didn’t someone mention here that it can be attributed mostly to the tires? I’m sure aero bits come into play, but thats typically over 60 mph.

          Will someone do a head-to-head test w/ a similarly equipped R56 JCW (plus coilovers, light weight 17’s) and the R56 GP, both wearing the exact same rubber????

        • It’s a bargain compared to a similarly-equipped JCW Hatch.

        • for sure the tires on the new gp does make for some of the performance but just the tires alone cannot yield a 18 secs difference vs the gp1. tires alone worth about 3 secs per lap. where does the remaining 15 secs difference come from?

    • brt356

      I agree – my 2009 factory JCW that I configured and took delivery of in Aug.2008, stickered for just under $43K, so the $40K for the GP seems reasonable when you consider all the engineering and equipment that it comes with.

  • HeyWuWu

    2013 JCW Hardtop… +Premium Color +Recaro Seats +Heated Seats +JCW Dash Panel +Black Headlamp Housing +White Turn Signals +Xenon Headlights +JCW Leather/Alcantara Steering Wheel +JCW Floor Mats +JCW Strut Brace +Alarm System

    Total = $37,655 compared to $39,950

    $2295 gets you a limited paint color, rear diffuser, rear spoiler, GP shift knob, GP tuning, GP wheels, 6 pot brakes, GP Suspension and years and years of attention (I’m a GP 1 owner, trust me, I know the attention you’d get as a GP owner). Seems like a good deal to me.

    • Don’t forget the underbody aero.

    • Kurtster

      It’s definitely priced right for all that it comes with when compared to a standard JCW optioned similarly.

      I didn’t see an Alcantra steering wheel in any of the pics. Maybe that’s a late addition or I missed it.

      They made the alarm system standard? Add that to the CD player as two things I’d never have used in a GP that just take up dead weight. Why they included those but no Mini Connected/HK option will always baffle me.

      Indeed, you’ll get lots of attention from Mini enthusiasts. I’m not so sure the average Joe knows there’s anything special about a GP without the decals telling them that and most GP 2 owners seem to want those decals removed. I would leave the decals in place so that it doesn’t look like every other JCW out there, just in a different color and with different wheels.

      • HeyWuWu

        The Alcantara Steering wheel is a GP specific wheel but it’s likely Alcantara. The Alarm System is a $0 option. A CD player is included with any MINI you order.

        The average Joe doesn’t know what a GP is even with the stickers, but I still like the attention. It’s a great car for the right person. I’ve seen your comment Kurster and know you have your heart settled on a JCW Coupe which is a amazing MINI as well. But the GP definitely has a value for the right person.

    • $30K for a new MINI is insane, let alone $40K+. At those prices I would be far more inclined to closely look at the 1-series and even a 3er. The interior quality of current MINIs simply do not reflect this kind of price tags.

    • walk0080

      A new JCW can still be had at a discount vs. the GP at MSRP so the price difference would be greater than what you have quoted.

      • I am HIGHLY skeptical of that assertion. Dealers may cut you a deal on financing or dealer-installed accessories, but I challenge anyone to produce a bill of sale showing a MINI ordered to spec (the car itself) bought for less than MSRP. Discounts on cars rotting in the lot don’t count.

        • walk0080

          Well I didn’t pay MSRP for my 2012 custom ordered JCW hatch up here in Canada last November 2011. You will just have to take my word for it but we have 6+ MINI dealerships within 1.5 hrs of Toronto that are sometimes willing to compete against each other on price.

        • Well kudos to you! My challenge stands for US buyers though. Anybody pay less than MSRP on a custom ordered car?

        • drewbrese

          Yes. Paid $1300 less than MSRP on an ordered car.

        • Kurtster

          Yes, mine is on order awaiting production and I paid a good deal less than MSRP in the US. I don’t want to say how much but I’ll say it was a superb deal that made me order the amount I saved back in the cost of JCW accessories.

  • CP

    IMO the GP is for track purpose. It’s difficult to enjoy the car for what it’s design for on the streets. I too would like a backseat every now and then…

    • Kurtster

      Why didn’t they just sell it directly to racers then instead of to the public through dealership with the whole marketing campaign?

  • that.guy

    If you have $40k to spend and don’t need a back seat, then the answer is obvious:

    Used Cayman.

    • Porsches are very expensive propositions out of warranty and even more as they get older. Great car to enjoy on a 3 year lease and turn back in when the contract ends.

      • walk0080

        Considering how much more newer Porsches are reliable vs. MINIs I would probably prefer a used Caymen as well. 😉 One of my favorite 2-door 2-seat cars right now.

    • Kurtster

      1.) A Cayman would be bitch in the snow and ice. 2.) A Cayman is more expensive to maintain than a Mini. 3.) I don’t want a used car and a new Cayman starts at $52,850 before premium audio or convenience packages. 4.) MINI owner events have more fun than Porsche owner events (I hate caviar).:-P

  • akng

    I didn’t have a Factory JCW, but I had a 2009 R56 Cooper S with all the JCW Parts. My car drove great on the street, but on track, it’s still missing some composure. I felt it was still missing a better LSD, and could benefit from some slightly better suspensions, not to mention lower offset wheels to fit wider tires on them. Also not to mention time and money needed to set the suspensions right. I wasn’t willing to spend that money. Basically, it was my 3rd modified car and I am getting sick and tired of spending so much money and time to modify a car only to realize that it will take a lot more labour to set everything in sync. I just want a car all tuned and set up for me to drive. When the GP2 came along, I thought it was exactly what I wanted. Even at its MSRP, I know if I am to get a Factory JCW and buy parts to tune it like such, it would cost much more. For god’s sake, my 2009 R56 ended up being more than 1.5x the MSRP after I got all the JCW stuff. So yeah, if the GP2 is set up so in sync as it promised from its engineers and drivers and that the suspensions and eLSD works as great as it said it would, I am confident that the GP2 is the car for me. Everyone values different things and so it’s to each their own. To me, if the car drives this great, I don’t need those comfort and convenience stuff at all to me honest. For example, I never use cruise control anyways cuz I want to be in control and if I am tired, I will rest. Call me stupid if you want! 🙂

  • Aerojammin

    I agree with Gabe and Nathan that this GP actually seems like a bargain (albeit out of my price range range). However, my question would be R53 GP or ’09 Factory JCW? (Reasonably nice examples are in the ~$20k range)

  • For the first time in 10 years, I did not buy another MINI to replace my mint 2005 R53 Cooper S hardtop. Loved, loved, loved that car but was getting upthere in mileage. Looked at possible MINI replacements (Considered another new ’12 or ’13 Clubman S) but the prices of these cars brand new are just insane, and this is with very basic amenities. Anyway, I like BMW too much so decided to stay in the family. Got me a very nice 2011 E90 328i sedan, nicely decked out, for new Clubman/Countryman money. Yep you guessed it right, got a mint year old CPO car with less than 18K miles, full balance of warranty and CPO extension until 100K miles or 6 years whichever comes first. I am loving the grunt and smoothness of the N52 in line 6, the very respectable handling and the RWD setup, first ever rear wheel driven car for me. The Bimmer is no MINI but it shares some of the common DNA with MINIs. I will be back one day with MINI. Here I am hoping the 3rd generation will bring back some of what made the R50/53 such a looked after car. I am not MINIless as my wife still has her 2008 R55 Clubman S, but sadly, no more R53s to play with.

  • walk0080

    I would stick with the JCW a little longer and see what the next-gen hatch S or JCW looks/drives like. But I also don’t like the looks of the new GP and prefer the current JCW.