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First Drive: MINI John Cooper Works GP

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Posted On: Nov 21, 2012 By: Charles Kayajian  Category: MINI Cooper News

Keys to the highly anticipated MINI John Cooper Works GP have finally reached the hands of automobile writers and critics. Those few lucky souls have driven the GP and provided their early opinions on MINI’s hottest hatch. Since we were not fortunate enough to drive the GP ourselves, we have highlighted segments from each publication’s first drive and linked directly to the full write up.

MINI John Cooper Works GP


“First, it sounds great with a lovely burble at idle, a small-bore growl winding up to the redline, and assorted pops and bangs on deceleration. Second, with the stability control system set to the special GP mode (located between Sport and Off), the computer won't cut power when traction is lost, instead only redirecting power to the outside driven wheel where traction is greater. Third, the new suspension setup seems to work well with good control and little roll, though the car will still plow when pushed hard, and it's tough to get any rotation unless unorthodox measures are applied.”

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Telegraph (UK)

Strong brakes, eager turn-in (helped by the GP running increased front camber) and excellent throttle adjustability all add to the fun, although one wonders if the ride would be a bit frantic on a British back road.

That test will have to wait for another day, but in the meantime I can report that this is a specialist piece of kit with a price tag to match. If you happen to own a go karting track then it comes highly recommended.

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Car and Driver

While nominally a street-legal race car, the GP is more of an expensive toy for the biggest fans of the diminutive brand. Not that we’re unenthusiastic about this enthusiast-targeted model—or any new product designed specifically to be fun. It’s just that we’re having a mini challenge of our own with the pricing. If you want a new daily driver that also can go fast on a track, there are any number of options available at this price—with something like a $24,495 Ford Focus ST and a dozen sets of sticky tires representing perhaps the most prudent choice.

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Automobile Magazine

In other words, the GP, for all its high-dollar components, drives a lot like a Mini Cooper. That's not a bad thing. The small, simple steering wheel transmits more road feel than many high-priced sports cars, and we barely need to adjust our grip through the track's multiple hairpin turns. The front wheels, retuned for increased negative camber, respond with even more immediacy, and the stiffened suspension cuts out what little body roll ever existed. The brakes, fortified up front with six-piston calipers, feel firm and powerful despite repeated outings with little cool-down time.

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Do I Want It? There are a couple drawbacks: The feature-laden GP costs close to $40,000, and for that money a lot of alternatives open up. With only two seats and a decidedly stiffer suspension it's not a car for the faint of heart. But what heart you have will beat faster almost every time you get behind the wheel.

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