One of the JCW GP reviews we’ve been waiting for is here and it’s raising some eyebrows. Unfortunately the new JCW GP received a very disappointing three star score in Autocar’s well respected star rating. What happened? It’s hard to say given that the April press launch in Spain was cancelled due to COVID and we have yet to get behind the wheel. However, we could guess that the aggressive tuning we noticed in our first ride review last year might be a bit much for UK roads and/or Autocar’s Matt Prior. But let’s give Mr, Prior the floor to explain:
There’s quite the brap when the JCW GP starts, followed, more often than not, by a few pops as it settles to its idle.
It’s enough to tell you quite a lot about the Mini’s character, anyway: this is an exuberant and unrefined car, which would all be dandy if – like a Porsche 911 GT3 or even the old Renault Clio Trophy, for example – this was accompanied by driver-focused dynamics. But on this showing – or on UK roads – I’m afraid it isn’t.
…the Mini’s ride is hard, but there’s a lumpenness and woodenness alongside it, which is odd. It seems to add kilos and heft to what’s actually a quite respectable kerb weight. Rather than feeling poised and agile, the Mini feels clonky.
We’re not sure what clonky means, but we’d guess it’s a distant cousin to clunky which can’t be a good thing. More from Autocar:
It tramlines too, badly. Across cats-eyes and cambers, it does it. On no throttle, it does it. Use the throttle and it torque steers. At the wheel, on a difficult road, you’re kept as busy at the wheel as you are in an Alfa Romeo 4C. On some cars, a level of interaction gives you something to do, making you part of the process. In the Mini, it’s just wearyingly tedious.
Then there’s the critique of the automatic. As we wrote about previously on MF, the automatic wasn’t really a choice given to MINI. BMW only engineered the 306 hp version of the B48 for the Aisin 8 speed auto and thus if MINI wanted that engine, it had to do it with that transmission. Nevertheless Autocar is less than impressed:
The 2.0-litre unit is big on power and torque but, some lag at low revs aside, responsive and smooth – and sometimes it makes gigglesome pops when you lift off. So quite why it has been mated exclusively to an eight-speed auto that fails to push gears through with the ferocity of a dual-clutch unit, and jolts weirdly into second on downshifts, is anyone’s guess. This is a muddled, frustrating car.
Muddled and frustrating is not what comes to mind having ridden shotgun in the GP at the track, but we won’t have a full picture until we drive it later this fall.
Read the entire review at Autocar.