Mini launches Cooper JCW GP
Its the fastest Mini ever. At least estate agents won't be late for viewings ...
Posted: 06 Sep 2012
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 intercooler.
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?