Coming just a week after the lukewarm Autocar review, Top Gear has it’s own verdict and it’s less than stellar; 6 out of 10. Let’s dive in and see what they found:
The first thing likely to upset the faithful is how you set off. Normally you’d slot first via an oversized gearknob atop a typically snickety mechanism. In the GP, you slide a standard BMW lever two clicks backward until a ‘D’ pops up on the screen. It’s an automatic. There’s no manual option, and instead of using its seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, Mini has gone for an eight-speed slusher, because of the M135i engine that comes ready-mated.
It’s an unfortunate by-product of the time we’re in that this car has to come with a fully automatic transmission. While we’d admit it’s not half-bad, there’s a clear lack of connection and even performance as a result.
Here’s more from Top Gear:
It’s not long before the GP makes it abundantly clear it’s not like other Minis. It has a totally different personality – an ice-cool, efficient, eminently… German precision.…
The ‘box allows you to lazily hold the left paddle and let the downchanges slot home when the computer decides. Foolproof, but anti-social. Demand to override and the changes are rounded-off, or ignored until the ones ‘n’ zeroes say so.
Mini’s argument is the same one that’s rife across the fast car industry: paddles make the car faster around a track (it’s quicker around the ‘Ring than a BMW M2), it’s easier to drive for a wider audience, letting Billy no-skills keep both hands on the wheel all the time. But it’s come at the same cost other victims of a manual-ectomy – keeping the driver at arms’ length from the action.
And the GP has the same un-Mini-ish attitude to corners as it does to straights. They’re inconveniences to be eaten and dispatched. The GP simply hasn’t heard of body roll. Can’t comprehend understeer. You can chuck it in, feel it stick, and fully lift off the throttle, but it won’t wiggle. The sheer amount of grip the GP generates is spectacular, and it’s not even wearing a particularly trick tyre, or apparently bending the air to its will.
So where does it all add up? In short Top Gear finds the GP3 to be ultra fast and yet not that fun:
It’s a car with one of the most bonkers road-going body kits ever, but very little aerodynamic effect. It’s got no back seats, lightweight wheels and a deleted wiper, but it’s not very lightweight. The car’s extremely stiff, yet it’s loaded with creature comforts. It’s hugely powerful and fast, but by borrowing a standard BMW gearbox instead of using Mini’s own trademark-excellent manual, it’s frustratingly undramatic to drive. And the handling is completely un-Mini-ish – hyper-polished and professional, grippy and sure-footed.
That’s great if you want to go fast without thinking, but for a run-out special Mini, shouldn’t it offer more than that? We think so. A Mini GP should be a hoot on track, but chasing lap times more than sane-speed giggles feels like the wrong path for the ultimate Cooper to take.