Mini Cooper John Cooper works GP

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And take a breath. Then take another and look at the price

Factfile
Price: £28,9790
Engine: 1.6 litres, four cylinders, turbocharged
Power: 215bhp @6000rpm
Torque: 206lb ft @2000rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
—————-
0-62mph: 6.3sec
Top Speed: 150mph
Economy: 40mpg
CO2: 165g/km

This is the most entertaining Mini of the modern generation and unlike the Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Convertible, a car that doesn’t leave you wishing you were just in a nice, normal, basic Cooper hatchback.

For although relative to the normal Mini JCW this one has a mere seven extra horsepower to speak for those two letters at the end of its tortuous name, this is a Mini unlike any other.

The major modifications centre on the chassis which, as you’d expect in any go-faster tune up, is lower and stiffer than that of the car upon which it is based. What you might not expect are race-derived coil-over spring/damper units to be used at each corner, nor those at the front to be inverted. Nor would it be normal to radically modify the front suspension geometry to increase camber but reduce toe-in. And you’d really not be counting on bespoke Kumho tyres to keep it all pointing in the right direction, nor front and rear strut braces to be introduced despite the fact that the rear brace means that car has to go without its back seat.

Surprisingly it feels more civilised than it looks on paper. The delivery driver advised me to check the integrity of my dental work before climbing into it, but after several hundred miles both my fillings and sense of humour remained intact. And on the roads for which it was built it was far quicker and kept you far more busy than any other front-drive car I can think of.

Indeed I’d change just two things. First are the Kumhos which have too narrow a working window for the British winter. The car was unruly even on cold, dry Tarmac and when pushing on in the wet. It was all highly enjoyable but rather more adult entertainment than I’d expected.

The other alteration I’d make is the price: the Works GP costs £28,790, which is fewer than £2000 less than its parent charges for the BMW M135i, which is frankly crackers. It’s also almost £4000 more than Toyota asks for its game-changing GT86 which has better handling and something resembling a rear seat. The Mini GP is good, but it’s not that good.

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