We’re not quite sure why Mini and parent company BMW has
painted every single one of its 2000 scorching-hot Cooper John Cooper Works GPs
grey. A colour renowned for trumpeting seat-of-the-pants thrills, merriment,
and fun. No, wait.
Luckily, it looks like it might actually be fun from the
Recaro driver’s seat (certainly more than the rear bench, which is
conspicuously absent). The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine’s got an aluminium
cylinder block and bearing mounts, reinforced pistons, sturdier cylinder head,
low-weight crankshafts and sodium-filled exhaust valves. And it’s funded by a
twin-scroll turbocharger and direct petrol injection.
All of the engine pimpification conspires to it delivering
all of 260 Newton metres of torque from 1,750 rpm, then 280 Nm from 2,000 rpm
thanks to an overboost function. You have to wait till 6000ropm to get all of the
218 horsepowers, but you won’t be twiddling your thumbs - it’ll hit 62mph in
6.3 seconds. The mid-range looks impressive, too; 50mph to 75 mph in fifth (of
six) gears only takes 5.9 seconds.
Mini promises it’ll be able to lay the power down. You get a
set of 17-inch 7.5-inch-wide lightweight wheels running 215/40 tyres, a package
developed from the Mini Challenge race cars. There’s also fully adjustable
threaded suspension, so you can drop the ride height by 20mm. The front shock
absorbers are also mounted upside down in the tube, which Mini reckons
increases lateral stiffness.
It’s had quite a lot of work done on the suspension,
actually. Front and rear negative camber’s been increased, there’s also more
toe-in to dial out understeer and help keep handling neutral when you’re
prodding the envelope.
On the electronic side, the Dynamic Stability Control isn’t
combined with the your normal Dynamic Traction Control setup. There’s some
special GP voodoo afoot. Because you don’t want any power reduction electronics
kicking in when you’re on the ragged edge (of Tesco’s carpark), Mini’s only
activated the ASC braking, based on the EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock
Control) subfunction, which brakes the wheel on the inside of the turn, and the
power that’d otherwise be lost gets redirected to the outer wheel, where there’s
more traction. Clever stuff.
How does it slow down, you say? Brakes, obviously. The front
end gets six-piston fixed-caliper brakes with vented 330mm discs, and there’s a
set of 280mm efforts astern. No need to over-egg the pudding when it weighs
1160kg. Adding lightness has also kept emissions and MPG relatively low. It’ll
do 39.8 mpg and cough out 165 grams of C02 per kilometre.
So, anything good to say about that body? Well, colour
aside, it’s pretty darn slippery. There are all-new aerodynamic bits like the
large front and rear aprons, side sills and roof spoiler. All of which aren’t
merely questionable styling bolt-ons - the rear diffuser, together with the
underside panelling and the roof-edge spoiler, reduce lift forces at the rear
axle by 90 per cent, and dropping drag by six per cent overall. Full
aerodynamic shielding of the engine compartment underside also helps air flow
through the bay, and special slits in the middle of it suck air away from the
Regular TopGear.commers will already know that it lapped
James’ favourite holiday destination, the Nürburgring North Loop, in 8 minutes
23 seconds (19 seconds quicker than its predecessor), but is that enough to get
over the very, umm, grey colour scheme?