It’s official. An all new MINI JCW GP is coming in 2020. As we reported earlier this year, MINI approved the project with an eye towards pushing the performance envelope of MINIs to a level not yet seen. The final car will take some visual and performance cues from the John Cooper Works GP Concept was first presented as a design study at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017.
What We Know About the All New JCW GP
What you see above is an initial engineering mule created as an early test bed for what will be the 2020 MINI JCW GP. Almost a year ago we brought you exclusive details on the upcoming GP. Now (after the traditional German August break) we’re seeing the first signs of the GP’s initial testing phase. What can we expect out of the new GP? Read on for details on power, design and availability.
What these photos tell us is that the design concept we saw last year was just that. Yes we’ll see a rear spoiler that’s clearly influenced by that car, but otherwise this will be a bit more realistic than that concept. The front brakes look to be an evolution of the standard JCW set while the rear brakes look to be identical. Elsewhere we see evidence of MINI using off-the-shelf parts (those wheels) to match the weight and aero characteristics of the final production pieces (which we’ll see in later test mules).
The JCW GP: Power Figures
The MINI JCW GP has never been about power. It’s been a lightweight two door hatch track weapon that is meant to cater to those looking for feedback and responsiveness. For the 3rd generation GP, MINI is keeping that formula intact with one major addition: an enormous increase in power.
Sources in the know have told us that MINI is targeting 280 hp out of a modified 2.0L JCW engine (with torque figures likely approaching 300. That figure coupled with a modest weight reduction will make this far and away the fastest MINI of all time.
Let’s think about that for a moment. The previous JCW GP made do with 208 HP and felt plenty quick. 280 hp not only makes this the fastest MINI ever. It will truly be in another league than previous quick MINIs.
The MINI JCW GP: Suspension and Differential
In the past MINI has been reluctant to offer that much power due to torque steer. According to sources, that opinion has shifted. Engineers are confident that they can limit torque steer with a new and highly advanced torque vectoring system that will be much quicker and more aggressive than DTC currently found in JCWs.
It doesn’t end there. MINI is also working on a mechanical differential as part of this package. The combination will be similar to the MK2 Ford RS in its approach and should allow power to hit the ground aggressively without the car pulling the steering wheel out of your hand.
Similar to the previous JCW GP, this new GP will have a fully adjustable coil-over (likely Ohlins) suspension that will allow for the driver to tailor the car for the track or road.
The MINI JCW GP: Transmissions
It’s becoming increasingly clear that MINI will opt for an automatic (better for the track) over the traditional 6 speed manual (better for driver involvement). Clearly our preference would be for the latter but MINI may face some hurdles in that choice. For one the Asian market doesn’t buy manuals, making the GP a non-starter in places like China. Secondly the European market is quickly looking at manuals in performance cars as antiquated. The BMW M2 for instance has a 70/30 DCT/manual split in markets such as Germany (it’s closer to 50/50 in the US).
On one hand we think there’s an opportunity for MINI to own the enthusiast market with this car by offering a manual only. Making that a barrier of entry creates mystique to a car that should have one. It also suits the MINI character. On the other an automatic (especially the 8 speed) tuned correctly would give The GP better performance and allow the power to be much more accessible with proper launch control.
What is This Thing Going to Look Like?
While not quite as aggressive as the concept, we do expect it to look a bit more aggressive than the test mule above. Look for an aggressive front splitter and rear diffuser along with the giant rear wing seen above. Unfortunately that means those lovely boxed fenders are out. Also unlike the concept, MINI intends on having a full finished interior (there will not be bare metal) but don’t expect rear seats.
The MINI JCW GP: Pricing and Release
The good news is that you have time to save. The bad news is that you have a full two years to save. According to our sources the JCW GP will be released in late 2019 as a 2020 model. Options will be limited and the stock configuration will likely include several premium options (such as Nav XL).
Sources have told us that pricing should be near 42.000€. We’re not going to bother translating that into a US market price because EU pricing is a bit more complicated than that. However we would expect the JCW GP to be priced over $45,000 USD.
Like previous GPs, this new car will be limited in production. Worldwide MINI is planning on making 3,000 units.
Top two photos sourced from Autoevolution.com