First drive review: Mini John Cooper Works GP (2013)

Stunning on paper, better on the race track

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This little number isn’t just quick, it is the fastest road-going Mini the company has yet produced. No question, the John Cooper Works GP is the hottest date going. Just 2,000 examples will be built, and Britain’s allocation is going fast. Sadly, you’ll need to be a bit of a Rockefeller in the wallet department as the Works GP wears a £28,790 price tag.

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So is it worth the cash? Well, with 215bhp on tap, a claimed 0-62mph dash in just 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 150mph, the GP’s performance on paper is stunning.

But take this little road rocket onto a race circuit as we did and it proves a revelation. The GP has been stripped out — the rear seats have been dumped in favour of a stiffening brace — and it weighs in at a racer-friendly 1,160kg. That little turbocharged 1.6-litre motor delivers a hugely enthusiastic wedge of torque, too, all 206 lb ft of it rocketing you out of corners.

And it attacks those corners like an eager beagle on the scent. The steering is hugely communicative, urging you to take the next hairpin just a bit quicker than the last. Inside, super-supportive Recaro bucket seats pin you in place as you stir the six-speed manual gearbox into action, lining up the next rumble strip.

A boy racer’s fantasy? Yes, just a bit, but as expensive thrills go, this one’s hard to top.

Verdict ★★★★☆

One mighty Mini.


From £28,790
1598cc, 4 cylinders
215bhp @ 6000rpm
206 lb ft @ 2100rpm
6-speed manual
0-62mph: 6.3sec
Top Speed:
40mpg (combined)
Road Tax Band: