Early Take: 2015 F56 MINI JCW vs the R53 and R56 MINI GP

The 2015 MINI JCW is the highest horsepower MINI from the factory of all time. But is it the fastest? The numbers tell an interesting story that paint a more nuanced picture than you’d think. Especially when you compare it to the previous fastest MINI, the GPs.

Let’s first look at the reigning champion when it comes to power. 2006 GP had 218 hp and a gross vehicle weight of 2,469 lbs. The HP to weight ratio was .088 hp/lb. The 2015 JCW has 228 hp and a gross vehicle weight of 2,845 lbs. The HP to weight ratio is .080 hp/lb. Incidentally, the 2013 GP had a .081 hp/lb ratio. Therefore if you’re looking at power only the R53 GP actually produces a better power to weight ratio. However power isn’t the headlining story of the new JCW.


The 2006 GP produced 180 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. The 2014 GP made due with 192 lb-ft (207 with an overboost function) at 1750 rpm. Compare that with the 2015 JCW which puts down a staggering 236 pound-feet of torque starting at only 1,250 rpm. This figure more than the power is the key difference between all the JCWs and this new 2015 model.

What does this mean for 0-60 times? The 2006 GP, the 2013 GP and the 2015 JCW (auto) have identical 0-60 times – 5.9 sec. However looking at 0-60 times are a bit of a fallacy here given that traction is the limiting factor because of the front wheel drive set-up. More torque and power wouldn’t really change the 0-60 time much without different tires or a real differential.


But if you’re buying a MINI for 0-60 times, you’re buying the wrong car. Where these cars are truly different is around corners. The R53 GP possesses enormous character and of course a visceral quality to its driving experience that will never be matched again. The R56 GP on the other hand has by far the more serious suspension set-up and thus is a much more out of the box track car than anything MINI has ever produced. The 2015 JCW (in factory sports suspension trim) is intended to be the fastest daily driver MINI has ever produced. It will surely be effortlessly fast while just as comfortable as a standard Cooper S.

While we have yet to drive the new JCW (look for a full road test in a few months on MotoringFile) we can surmise that each of these cars represent very different answers to the same question. Do you want a classic? Do you want a track car? Or do you want something with all the technology, comfort and performance you could ever imagine from a MINI?

  • iancull

    Nice summary, it’ll be fascinating to see if the conclusions here change once you get to test drive the new JCW

  • John McLauchlan

    This is a question best answered by the GP3. The GP1 and GP2 are not about comfort and technology (such as those which can be custom ordered in the F56 JCW).

    That said, the F56 JCW – especially with JCW Pro suspension or after market – would make a compelling daily driver. Can’t wait to test drive one when they arrive.

    • Eric

      You’re right 😉

    • Zillon

      Agreed with John here. Let’s compare apples to apples, and fJCWs to fJCWs. 🙂

  • I’m torn. While I love my 2006 GP, I long for the comfort and incredible leaps in technology that nine years have birthed since I picked my GP up in Monterey. Could the 2006 GP be destined to be a very unique classic just as the E30 M3? Maybe. The longer I hold out for a new car the more likely I am to keep the GP. The 2015 JCW is intriguing like few other MINIs have been to me since 2006. The price tag of $35K-$40K doesn’t really bother me. In fact, it seems quite reasonable for what it is and, at this point, 2015 may be the year that three MINIs, once again, take up the spaces in my garage.

    • I’ve said it many times before (and maybe earlier in this thread) but I’d highly recommend keeping your GP. They will never make another car like it. If you have the room and don’t need the capital to move into something new it feels like a no-brainer to me.

      • I second that.

      • jcwcoupe

        Yeah don’t do what I did when I sold my ’02 BMW M Coupe.

    • John McLauchlan

      You don’t always appreciate something as much until after you’ve let it go. Keep the GP if you can.

      • hemisedan

        Got that right. I still miss my r56 JCW hatch. The roadster is fun, but that’s why next year I’ll be in line for one of these F56 JCW’s

  • KS

    I agree with the other dudes. Keep the GP! Its too special to get rid of and who knows what kind of bastardization will occur to it once it is out of your hands.

    • KS

      That was meant for Todd’s post.

  • ulrichd

    Maybe it’s me but the convex F56 wheels look a bit like hubcaps to me. I know it’s for brake clearance I just wished they could have widened the wheels.

    • So agree. Was just with the JCW a few minutes ago and the wheels continue to be a disappointment. They look so small and oddly shaped from about every angle.

      • ulrichd

        Are those 17 or 18 inch wheels in the pic?

        • 18s

        • hemisedan

          If this came for the MINI.de site then these are the standard 17″ wheels. Me for color, I still go back to the Pepper White with the Chili Red roof. The BRG ll isn’t bad either. Rebel Green, although most of us haven’t seen it in person is just a bit dark.

        • The size of the wheels was confirmed by MINI USA when we were at NAIAS last month. That’s where this photo was taken.

        • And I saw them yesterday as well. 18s.

        • hemisedan

          Are those the race wheels or the cup type wheels?

        • hemisedan

          Alex, I thought that the Race wheels were 17″era. I realize that the cup wheels are 18″. I thought ulrichdvwas referring to the Race wheels, and if those are 18″, then great!

        • The Spokes, displayed on this post’s main photo, are 18″. The Tracks are 17″.

      • Brandon Rucker

        What were you doing with the JCW? Another auto show? I can’t wait to see one in Thunder Grey and Chili Red Roof.

        • Karl

          Thunder Grey / Red Roof

        • Paul

          That is the color scheme I am planning for mine.

        • Karl

          I wanted the new Rebel Green, but also wanted the red roof. That combo just doesn’t work for me. Glad somebody mentioned the Thunder Grey. I’ll probably do this or Rebel Green w/ White like Motoringfile did in a previous article.

        • Paul

          I like the Rebel Green but am keeping my current Mini and giving it to my wife and it is BRG, so figured I would get something other than green. Really like the Lapis color with red as well, but Thunder Grey just looks awesome.

        • Brandon Rucker

          I always loved Eclipsed Grey and Chili Red Roof. So Thunder Grey and Chili Red Is Perfect for me!!!!

      • Matt

        Do the 17″ track spokes look any better? The “S” track spokes look fine, but the JCW track spokes are supposed to look different to fit the brakes. I was set on the cup spokes, but they look goofy in person in my opinion…the opposite of BMW deep dish wheel styles…

  • David Bayliss

    Are the 0-60 times based on real world rather than MINI specs? Always thought the gen 1 GP was 6.5s?

    • The data comes the real world which of course is apples to oranges.

      • David Bayliss

        Highly doubt an R53 GP would keep up with an R56 GP in a straight line

        • Nope. Straight from MINI in the specs for the 2006 GP. 0-60 in 5.9 sec. A few auto journalist sites tested it and some got 5.8 sec. but we ARE talking apples to apples e.g. the same numbers published by BMW/MINI.

        • David Bayliss

          Not according to Motoringfile – look at http://www.motoringfile.com/2006/04/12/mini-usa-prices-the-jcw-gp-at-30650/ the table at the bottom says 0-60 6.5seconds, way off 5.9s

        • Good find. That’s 0-62 MPH or 0-100 KPH but still that seems like the normal conservative BMW approach.

        • David Bayliss

          I was just intrigued as I thought the GP/F56 JCW were the first to break the 6 second barrier (officially) and it seems they were. I’m not putting a downer on the first gen GP, it’s still an awesome car – just in a very different way to todays performance models. In an ideal world you’d own an R53 GP and F56 JCW I reckon..

        • And yes, as Gabe stated, the 6.5 was, technically, 0-100km/hr or 62 mph. Here is the pre-release document from where those numbers came. Also included is the same document listing 16″ brake discs. Also note the < symbol next the 6.5 number AND the asterisk disclaimer “Figures not confirmed at time of going to press”. 😉

        • That information came from the pre-release specs on the GP. The same bulletin also said the 2006 GP had 16″ brake discs. Both of these were corrected upon the release in August of 2006. You’ll also notice the asterisks too. It stated that these numbers would vary (manufacturer speak for – on any given day with different drivers… Your mileage may vary). Once the car was released, the press release stated 5.9 seconds. You can search the web and find it repeated over and over on review sites. Those sites didn’t make up the number, they came from a BMW press release once the car was actually delivered.

        • David Bayliss

          I’m not arguing about it – checked 4 UK magazines that test drove, all quoted 6.5s guess they were given the wrong info.. Amazing that on paper the 1st Gen GP would be side by side with a 2nd Gen GP, I’ve owned a 1st Gen GP and wouldn’t of thought so.

        • No, correct info at the time, as you see from the above example, but the info is out-dated and was later corrected/adjusted.

        • They’re were two different PR departments and thus two stories.

        • Even the original BMW press release from Feb of 2006 stated the 0-62 mph time of “less than 6.5 seconds” but this was a full five months before the first production GP was even built. So in the realm of car development, you can see where the discrepancies occur based on a timeline of information and development.

        • iDavid27

          I was only asking a question, as I stated both cars are great..

        • I totally agree and am, in no way, upset or confrontational. Just trying to clarify that, sometimes, facts get updated. Also, those of us who’ve owned MINIs for years know that all the numbers are meaningless because every car is different. Two identical MINIs may dyno test with wildly different numbers. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. There’s no science here. It’s all, for the most part, subjective. But the discussions are what make us enthusiasts and keep us interested so kudos to you and everyone who engages in a non-confrentational discussion here. Cheers!

        • iDavid27

          No worries Todd and yes you’re right, I’ve seen MINIs making crazy bhp compared to quoted spec.. Enjoy the GP and, for what it’s worth, I’d keep it as long as you can – it has the fun/character quality that sadly MINI will never have in the same way again.

        • hemisedan

          Also remember that father BMW likes to under rate their speed times as well as power numbers. Case in point the new BMW 2 withe the 2.0 motor. 240 ho, right! Most test drivers are thinking more like in the 265+ range that I’ve read. I think we’ll find the same with the JCW 2.0 @ 228 hp.

        • That data comes from Todd fwiw. But yes, the R56 GP is noticeably faster.

        • ulrichd

          The HP to weight ratios are almost identical.

        • if ~10% difference is identical in your book, then ok.

        • ulrichd

          I was looking at the 2013 vs the 2015. My mistake.

  • I have one question: If no one cares about 0-60 times, why is it one of the most touted specifications by nearly ALL automotive manufacturers. Yes, MINI has never been about straight line speed. Ever. But that being said, in the real world of driving, stop light to stop light and general passing in traffic for safety and idiot avoidance, it’s a pretty even playing field with all these MINIs. The 2013 GP and the 2015 JCW all need higher torque to pull the extra weight – nearly 400 pounds more weight in the 2015 JCW. The higher torque in the newer MINIs is fantastic and make the car feel “snappier” but I still say HP to weight is an important factor to be considered. Look back to the 60s when Mini beat much higher horsepower cars in the Rallye Monte Carlo. HP to weight which, in turn, improves handling were the key factors in Mini’s success. I’m trying to speak empirically here and not trying to be argumentative. The 2013 GP was touted as being 19 seconds faster around the Nurburgring than the 2006 GP. I’m not the first person to say that it’s largely due to a superior suspension, superior brakes and near racing compound tires. That comparison is clearly not apples to apples. Either way, in comparing the three MINIs in showroom delivery spec, the 2013 GP and the 2015 JCW are superior cars in many rights, but just barely. 😉

    • The thing that gets me about 0-60 times is not that it’s a metric, but that people talk about a few tenths of a second like it’s some significant indicator of vastly superior performance. Not only can most people not feel the difference between 5.9 and 6.1, but most people are unable or unwilling to actually drive their cars to those limits. What actually matters, if you ask me, is the intangible feel of a car. It’s not about how fast it is. It’s about how fast and fun it feels. How put together. How engaging and cooperative. Though they never get credit for it outside of MotoringFile, I think this is the secret sauce of JCW. They seem to build a car to feel, not to spec. The value isn’t in the stats. It’s in the seats.

      • Totally agree. Driving a MINI is an ephemeral experience. There’s no trophy for getting to the store 4 seconds faster than the guy in his Focus ST. But punching your MINI to its limits on an on ramp is a feeling that can put a smile on your face for the rest of the day. That’s why we drive MINIs. Not because they’re fast or because some number tells us it’s better, but because they make our lives, somehow, a little happier.

        • hemisedan

          That’s right on!

  • rick45x8

    I suspect a 4wd Mini with 2-series BMW drive train, six doors, and electric mudflaps would be even faster, but even less of a MINI than the new JCW. If you rate the three cars on “MINIness”, the new car is a total flop. How about a 2000lb, 150hp version of the Rocketman cencept? I’d buy a car like that, but have no interest in anything MINI is making today.

    • hemisedan

      While I feel that you are exaggerating a bit, but I feel some of what you do. What killed the new JCW for me, and other MINI’s for me is the dash. How many ways can you say cheap! From the ridiculous speedometer, miniaturized tach, and then put the gas gauge (cheap plastic again) on the side of the speedometer.

      Now before you classify me, I’ve owned two JCW Mini’s, and the new MINI JCW is not that bad of a car, to me, but when one has to look at those gauges, the smaller steering wheel, for miles and miles, I went to BMW the m235I series. Then, to top it all off, figured the way that I would configure a JCW, the m235i was $10. more a month on a lease. So, I’m gone and really, I doubt that I’ll be back. My choice is rear wheel drive, very quick, responsive and pretty much makes me think of my old muscle car days of the late 60’s. Of course, this all just my opinion.