The MINI John Cooper Works GP is back: compact, punchy and fast.
The little speedster owes its DNA to a legendary engineer.
When John Cooper first used a mid-engine car in Formula 2 racing in 1955, he left the competition rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Up until then, Formula cars had been dominated by front-engine models, but Cooper recognised that a well-balanced car was easier to drive, more manoeuvrable and therefore faster. So he put the engine behind the driver. Today, many people only know John Cooper’s last name, which they associate with the MINI brand. But who was this ingenious engineer who changed motorsports and mass-market cars forever? John Cooper was born in Surbiton, a London suburb, in 1923. He was initiated into the world of motorsports at a young age: his father Charles Newton Cooper was an automo- tive engineer and highly respected in motor racing circles. At the age of twelve, Cooper drove his first laps on the Brooklands race track in a car that had been designed for him especially – reaching speeds of 145 km/h. Speed fas- cinated him, but engineering fascinated him even more. So he began training as a toolmaker in 1938 and ended up developing his first technical solutions for motorsports. The year 1946 marked a milestone: Cooper and his father founded the Cooper Car Company, which built and serviced vehicles for almost all classes of Formula race cars. That year, he met the British race car engineer Alec Issigonis, who was working on a sensational little car. Cooper and Issigonis hit it off, stayed in touch and bounced ideas off each other.
In 1958, Issigonis invited his friend to join him for a test drive. His invention: an ultra compact car with a transverse, front-mounted engine – a revolutionary design. Cooper immediately recognised the potential of the Morris Mini Minor, as it was called then, a front-wheel drive car with a low centre of gravity and small wheels. “With a more powerful engine and better brakes, this car could win races,” he said, already hearing the roar of engines in his head ... In 1959, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) launched the MINI as a road vehicle with a modest engine. For months, Cooper negotiated with BMC about building 1,000 units of a more powerful version – the ‘Mini Cooper’. The car was small, nippy and powerful, and radically changed the image of small cars. Thanks to Cooper, the MINI was seen as innovative and cool, and became a status symbol. The 51 kW/70 hp MINI Cooper S weighed a mere 670 kilograms, which was perfect for the racetrack and rally sports. The Australian racing driver Jack Brabham won the 1959 and 1960 Formula 1 World Championships in Cooper’s racing car. Soon the small but powerful cars had won almost all the important titles in the sport. However, the team had not developed a car suitable for touring-car racing or rallies. This bothered Cooper. The ambitious inventor was looking for new challenges, and sold his company.
With its four-cylinder turbo engine and its 225 kW/306 hp, the JCW GP raises the bar. It is the fastest MINI ever built.
At the time, Cooper had been an in-house tuning engi- neer at MINI for quite a while. From 1962, he worked on enhancing the cars that would go on to win the Monte Carlo Rally three times starting in 1964. Each victory increased the number of sales. In 1971, after roughly 130,000 MINI Coopers had been produced, the collaboration between John Cooper and MINI came to an end. But Cooper stayed loyal to the brand. When the MINI was being reimagined in the late 1990s, Cooper acted as a consultant to the devel- opers and helped take the characteristic go-kart driving feel of the car into the new millennium. On seeing the result, he said: “Wow, it’s a MINI.” Sadly, John Cooper didn’t live to see the success of the car. He died in the year 2000 at the age of 77. The new MINI was launched in 2001. A short time later, John Cooper’s son Michael founded a new busi- ness called John Cooper Works, which produced tuning parts and accessories for the new edition of the car. In 2006, the MINI ascended to new heights with the 160 kW/218 hp tuning kit for the MINI Cooper S. Experts and customers were delighted. Among fans, the kit was considered the first generation of the MINI GP. In the end, in 2007, the car lab became a part of MINI. Building on its proud engineering tradition, John Cooper Works continues to optimise engines, chassis and vehicle weights. A second generation of the John Cooper Works GP was developed in 2013 and sold ex-works. MINI built 2,000 limited-edition units of the JCW GP, each of which was powered by a 1.6-litre, four cylinder turbo engine that allowed speeds of up to 242 km/h. The car sold out extremely quickly and became a sought-after collector’s item.
Now, roughly seven years later, a new generation of the MINI JCW GP has been built. A strictly limited edition once again, there are 3,000 units this time, numbered on the inside and on the outside. And once again, the MINI John Cooper Works GP has managed to raise the bar: its four-cylinder, 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine boasts 225 kW/306 hp, making the MINI JCW GP significantly more powerful than its predecessor. It comes with an eight- speed automatic transmission including a mechanical differential lock that is operated via 3D-printed shift paddles on the steering wheel. It also features a specially tuned suspension, lightweight components, aerodynamic design and torsional rigidity. This British legend can go from 0 to 100 km/h in only 5.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 265 km/h – the fastest MINI ever. Its real driving performance, however, is demonstrated by a different figure: in tests on the Nurburgring Nordschleife speedway, the car completed a lap in under eight minutes. A well-balanced vehicle is faster and more agile than other cars – something John Cooper knew as far back as 1955. If he were able to sit in the car today, he would most certainly be quite content, a mischievous smile on his face.
Hinweis (English disclaimer below):
* MINI John Cooper Works GP Offizieller Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 7,3 l/100 km Offizielle CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 167 g/km CO₂-Effizienz: Effizienzklasse: F Modell noch nicht verfügbar (Vorserienstand). Bei den Angaben handelt es sich um voraussichtliche, noch nicht offiziell bestätigte Werte. Änderungen vorbehalten. Die offiziellen Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, CO2-Emissionen und Stromverbrauch wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren VO (EU) 715/2007 in der jeweils geltenden Fassung ermittelt. Die Angaben berücksichtigen bei Spannbreiten Unterschiede in der gewählten Rad-und Reifengröße. Bei diesen Fahrzeugen können für die Bemessung von Steuern und anderen fahrzeugbezogenen Abgaben, die (auch) auf den CO2-Ausstoß abstellen, andere als die hier angegebenen Werte gelten. Abbildungen zeigen Sonderausstattungen. Das Fahrzeug ist auf Basis des neuen WLTP-Testzyklus ermittelt und zur Vergleichbarkeit auf NEFZ zurückgerechnet. Weitere Informationen zu den Testverfahren WLTP und NEFZ finden Sie unter. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO2-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen, bei der Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT), Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern und unter https://www.dat.de/co2/ unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.
*MINI John Cooper Works GP Official combined fuel consumption: 7.3 l/100 km Official combined CO2 emissions: 167 g/km Model not yet available (pre-production). These values are estimated values that have not yet been officially confirmed. Subject to changes. The values shown for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are calculated in accordance with the measurement method prescribed in the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable at the time of approval. The ranges shown take into consideration the differences in the wheel and tyres sizes selected. The values are already based on the new WLTP test cycle and have been translated back into NEDC-equivalent values for the purpose of comparison. For these models, different values to those shown here apply when calculating taxes and other vehicle-related duties that (also) focus on the CO2 emissions. Further information regarding the official fuel consumption and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the "Leitfaden über Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen" [Guide to fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and energy consumption of new passenger cars], which is available free of charge from all points of sale, from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern, Germany, and from https://www.dat.de/co2/.