Small car, big price: Mini John Cooper Works GP starts at $39,950

2012 Mini John Cooper Works GP front three-quarter viewIn the automotive world, “small” is synonymous with “affordable,” as if cars are sold by the pound. The smallest cars are almost always the cheapest, and it’s hard to imagine someone paying ‘big car” money for a two-door hatchback like, say, the Mini Cooper. Mini is challenging that assumption with the 2013 John Cooper Works GP, which starts at $39,950. That is $9,150 more than the next most expensive Mini.

Buyers will be putting their money toward more than metal and air. Mini says the John Cooper Works GP is its fastest model ever. It does 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, has a top speed of 150 mph, and lapped Germany’s infamous Nurburgring in eight minutes, 23 seconds.

To achieve that performance, the John Cooper Works GP sports a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes 211 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That’s only three more horses than the current Mini John Cooper Works, but the GP has 68 more pound-feet.

To help drivers take full advantage of that extra torque, Mini played around with the car’s traction and stability control systems to give the flesh bag behind the wheel a little more license.

The John Cooper Works GP also benefits from new suspension with adjustable coilovers. Anyone with knowledge of suspension geometry can create the setup that best fits their driving style, while the rest of the suspension is tuned from the factory with reduced front-toe-in for better handling.

Completing the package are new brakes: six-piston calipers all around, with 13-inch rotors in the front and 11-inch rotors in the rear. Those brakes stop some unusual 17-inch four-spoke wheels, wrapped in 215/40/17 tires.

Mini also says the John Cooper Works GP is its lightest car ever. It certainly should be, given the draconian measures Mini took to keep weight down. The drive and front passenger wit in Recaro racing seats, while the rear passenger’s don’t sit anywhere: the rear seats were removed and replaced by a chassis stiffening bar.

If the litany of performance hardware isn’t enough to distinguish the GP from other Minis, the graphics package should do the trick. The body kit, gray paint, red accents, and GP stripe decals definitely make an impression.

While the “regular” Mini John Cooper Works is offered in nearly every Cooper body style (Hardtop, Convertible, Coupe, Roadster, Clubman), the GP will only be offered in basic Hardtop form.

It’s appropriate that Mini went all out on the GP, because it will be the current Mini’s swan song. When the first BMW Mini was replaced by the current model in 2006, the brand launched the original GP. So with an all-new Mini imminent, history is repearing itself.

The Mini John Cooper Works GP will launch in early 2013. Only 2,000 will be made. Like fun driving, exclusivity is something people are willing to pay for, even in small portions.

Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.