The JCW GP is here. We’ve just returned from a preview and briefing of the car by Jorg Weidinger, head of development of the new GP and were allowed a hands-on look of the car. Through this and few other sources we were garner some exclusive details about the car, the development and why it’s perhaps a bit more special than even looks would suggest.

MINI isn’t releasing many figures at this point but there is one that they are speaking publicly and quite proudly about; the GP’s Nurburgring lap time of 8:23. That’s a full 18 seconds faster than the previous GP and puts it in a rare company of front wheel drive cars on the ‘Ring.

Unlike the previous GP, MINI took their time to bring this car to market. Developed over the course of two years, testers used both the ‘Ring and public roads to create the best possible combination of extreme performance and livability. The entirely new JCW suspension improves on the after-sales kit by lowering the car further and giving it better body control on the track. Like-wise we’re told six piston front brakes are a decided improvement over the already good four-pots on the standard JCW.

Live Full Gallery

MINI also partnered with Khumo to develop a specific 17″ tire for this GP that offers better grip and ride qualities than any previous tire that size has offered. Why 17s rather 18s? According to MINI the revised JCW suspension is so aggressive that the 18s were deemed too rough.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the GP (aside from the engine which MINI aren’t willing to talk about yet) is the aero work that has gone into the car. MINI has closed off the underside of the car (using bespoke parts and one or two from the Cooper SD) to create better air flow and less lift. This coupled with the rather dramatic rear diffuser allows the car to stay far better planted at speed than any MINI other than MINI Challenge race-car. They also tweaked the front aero (just in front of the tires) to allow for better air-flow and less drag and lift. It may not look it, but we’re told that these changes in total create a substantially improved car over the standard JCW.

MINI isn’t talking about the interior (other than it’ll have only two Recaros inside) or the drivetrain. But from our sources we’re expecting something edging close to 220 hp and the most torque ever from a MINI.

We’ll have much more on the car in the coming days and weeks but until then enjoy the official release, gallery (below) and our own gallery above.

Official Full Gallery