Mini John Cooper Works GP: The fastest Mini ever?

2012 Mini John Cooper Works GP front three-quarter viewSaying, “I drive a Mini” is a really vague statement. BMW’s revival of the classic British hatchback may have started with one model, but now Mini is legion. From the Coupe to the Countryman, there is a Mini for everyone. It’s not just body styles either: Minis are endlessly customizable. That makes them perfect for people who care less about cargo space, and more about speed. Witness the redesigned Mini John Cooper Works GP.

Mini says the John Cooper Works GP is its fastest ever. It was also tested the Nurburgring, the German racetrack where nearly every car company tests its high-performance models. The John Cooper Works GP set a lap time of 8:23, 19 seconds faster than the previous, 2006 John Cooper Works GP.

Mini is keeping most of the John Cooper Works GP’s mechanical features a secret until it is ready to put the car on sale. The company is only saying that the John Cooper Works GP’s engine will be turbocharged, which isn’t much of a clue. The current Mini performance leader, the John Cooper Works (no GP), has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger, so it is likely that the GP will have a more powerful version. The regular John Cooper Works has 208 horsepower; the 2006 John Cooper Works GP had a 1.6-liter supercharged engine with 214 hp.

Over 200 horsepower in one of the world’s smallest cars should make for lively acceleration, but handling has always been the Mini’s calling card. The John Cooper Works GP shouldn’t disappoint, since it will have adjustable suspension and race-spec tires and brakes. They look pretty good with the unorthodox four-spoke wheels. The body also gets some aerodynamic adjustments, including a carbon fiber rear spoiler, to improve downforce. Finally, the rear seats are left at the factory to make the car lighter.

The original John Cooper Works GP was a limited edition model that sent the first-generation BMW Mini out with a bang. The new version will probably do the same. Like the first GP, only 2,000 will be made. Since Mini is planning on launching a new Cooper soon, this could be the last variant built on the current platform. If the John Cooper Works GP turns out to be the fastest Mini ever, it will make an excellent swan song for the current Mini. It should also be easy to sell 2,000 of them.