What you’re looking at are the first photos of the electric JCW GP as it begins testing for possible production. The shocking photos show a GP based prototype with several tell-tale signs that this is indeed a fully electric model.
First and foremost there is no exhaust anywhere to be found. Second MINI is using it’s iconic yellow trim color on the brakes and in the camouflage pattern – clearly intended to mark the car as electric. Third the grille is taken straight from the Cooper ES and thus has none of the typical cooling designed for an internal combustion engine.
Finally we’ve reached out to sources that are typically spot-on around MINI’s future products and they’ve confirmed what we suspected; this is indeed an all electric prototype model based on the just released JCW GP. While they didn’t confirm production plans, this prototype has all the hallmarks of a fairly serious development program.
Electric JCW GP – Performance
As anyone who’s driven the all electric MINI Cooper SE can tell you, electrification adds a new level of performance that suits the brand well. What this new all electric JCW GP seems to be doing is taking that to an extreme.
As we said when we drove the Cooper SE earlier this year, it takes approximately 50 feet to figure out that this is the quickest MINI ever 0-30 mph. That type of performance is a game-changing attribute and turned up to 11 (as you’d expect in the GP) would be incredibly compelling.
But it’s not just torque that makes us excited for the all electric JCW GP. Assuming it follows the blueprint from the Cooper SE, lithium-ion battery pack will likely be wedged low and in the center of the car creating the lowest center of gravity ever on a modern MINI.
What that means is that the Cooper SE, despite a ride height that is likely a bit higher than normal, is immediate in its direction changes and is extremely progressive at the limit. In fact it was the most balanced MINI I have ever driven, and with a 50/50 weight distribution it makes sense.
Weight will likely be up but likely not as much as you’d expect. A standard Mini Cooper S weighs in between 2,700 and 2,800 depending on options. The all electric Cooper SE is over 300 lbs heavier at 3,153 lbs. Yet due to the location of that extra weight, performance hardly feels stunted in normal scenarios. And even up to triple digits speeds the Cooper SE constantly surprises in the way it builds speed. That bodes well for the electric JCW GP.
While the current JCW GP puts it’s power down via an 8-speed automatic and a mechanical limited differential, we’d expect the electric JCW GP (potentially called the GPE) to make use of BMW’s excellent ARB system. ARB is BMW’s highly advanced traction control system designed for electric cars that features a slip control system positioned directly in the engine control unit making it dramatically faster to react. Combined with with DSC, actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (say that three times) significantly reduces the power understeer usually experienced with front-wheel drive vehicles, but without control intervention to stabilize lateral dynamics.
Electric JCW GP – Production Plans and Timing
With the longer life-cycle of the F56, a second halo car does make some sense. And making it electric ticks all the boxes for the brand as it looks to change course and lean into electrified drivetrains. And you won’t find better proof that MINI is serious about transitioning the JCW brand into an electric only performance brand.
Given that this is the first time we’ve seen the car on public roads we’d expect a full year of testing before we see the finished product. And that could mean the final production electric JCW GP wouldn’t seem showrooms until early 2022.