OK: Damn, hoped you wouldn’t bring that up. Yes, this is basically an M135i powertrain minus its rear driveshafts. And it’s an own-goal by Mini.
There’s no doubting the GP’s pure speed – 302bhp and 332lb ft in a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe is always going to be rapid. In-gear, it’s a demon. It wastes nothing – the anticipation builds until you’re through the lag at 3,000rpm, then it just teleports away. But the engine Mini’s used is the flattest-sounding, most characterless motor ever stuck in a super-hatch. It just buzzes away while the incongruous auto ‘box whisks through the shifts hoping you won’t even notice it, like a butler. Until whoops – you’ve crashed into the killjoy 6,000rpm limiter. It should’ve been a 250bhp manual with the AK47-spec exhaust off the Cooper S 210 Works. But I guess emissions laws said nope.
I get why this engine-gearbox combo would work in say, a Clubman estate or a Countryman crossover, or even in BMW’s grown-up hot hatch. But in a lil’ Cooper – and the hardcore, run-out special at that – it needed more revs, more energy, and more pedals in the footwell. I respect the Mini’s sheer performance, and how much more professional it is over a standard JCW. Its cornering speeds, traction and damping are all top-drawer. The brakes are mighty. It changes direction like it’s following a Scalextric groove in the road.
You know what? It’s the McLaren MP4-12C of hot hatches. Mathematically stupendous, at the expense of a sense of humour. Using it to chase your Megane made me grimace with G-force, not giggle with mirth. Ugh, I hate losing. Especially to the French.