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Mini John Cooper Works GP: Prototype Testing On The Nürburgring

  • Mini is testing the new John Cooper Works GP on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
  • Details are slim, but Mini says the engine delivers more than 300 horsepower. 
  • Expect a limited production run of only 3,000 units when it arrives next year.   

Mini is about to roll out another version of their John Cooper Works GP, the hot rod, high performance model of the cute little Anglo-German hatchback. And although performance details are scarce at this time, they are rolling it out in style. They debuted the little pocket rocket at this year’s 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.

This news from Mini comes of the heels of their most recent announcements regarding the 2020 John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman.

New Mini John Cooper Works GP: Prototype Versus Production

24-hours of the Nürburgring happened this past weekend and it was, as always, kinda nuts. On the one hand, I’m glad they still run actual races there. On the other, it’s like a ticking time bomb; eventually there’s going to be “the big one” and then the hue and cry to ban racing on one of history’s great tracks will rise once again (and might even be listened to).

With that as the background, you have to admit debuting your latest hot model on this stage is a pretty cool move. Mini goes to great lengths to point out how this is a prototype of the new, extreme version in the lineup. But c’mon, how far off from the final production form can this really be? The John Cooper Works GP version will hit the market next year, limited to just 3,000 units. Mini didn’t say, but I’m assuming that’s the total worldwide production run. No word on how many America will get.

As luck would have it, Mini was rushing to get data logged before this year’s 24-hour race, with the John Cooper Works GP pounding out runs on the Nordschleife as part of its development process. Mini didn’t give exact numbers, but said the little guy is already boasting lap times almost a half a minute below the record set by its predecessor.

That’s a big chunk of time to cleave off.

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The Mini John Cooper Works GP completing runs on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife as part of its development process. Photo: BMW Group.

Shots Fired

Obviously this is more than a warning shot that Mini intends to take the hatchback record home with them very soon. And obviously, this is very good for you and me, the well-meaning but sadly underfunded gearheads of the world. New, absolute records by Ferrari and Porsche and such are well and good, but theoretically I’ll be able to afford a hot version of a Mini long before I can buy a La Ferrari.

Although short on production, the new Mini John Cooper Works GP is long on other numbers. For starters, the little four-banger under the hood puts out 301 horsepower, which is a lot for such a small engine. They must have the turbos squeezed within an inch of their life. The air intakes are wide open and the wheels are large but light alloy affairs. There’s also a striking roof spoiler that’s as functional as it is new.

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The new Mini John Cooper Works GP is limited to just 3,000 units. Production begins next year. Photo: BMW Group.

Related: 17 of the fastest four-doors around the Nürburgring.

Testing Is Ongoing

Given how the prior Mini John Cooper Works GP set a benchmark for the company at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (8:23); and Mini says this one knocks “half a minute” off that, we’re talking about a hatchback that can lap the infamous Green Hell in less than eight minutes. I’ll let that pretty staggering figure settle in while I leave you this parting shot from the engineers: “its testing program is not yet over.”

The new Mini John Cooper Works GP will reach U.S. showrooms by the middle of next year with an MSRP of $44,900. Tack on another $850 for destination and handling.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle formatFollow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Mini John Cooper Works GP Gallery

Photos & Source: BMW Group.