The pugnacious Mini Cooper comes in two levels of turbocharged spice-medium S and hot John Cooper Works-but we've learned that they're both about to take a back seat to the fiery 2013 John Cooper Works GP.
BMW-controlled Mini has released only spotty details about the new limited-production king of Coopers, but what we have heard so far is tantalizing. The JCW GP is expected to be offered as either a Hardtop (Mini's term for the regular two-door hatchback) or, as widely rumored, a Coupe. The new car promises a track-ready trifecta: marginally more power, an upgraded "adjustable race suspension" with edgier brakes and tires, and a lower weight by eliminating the Hardtop's rear seats and perhaps air conditioning as well. Also included are GP-specific styling cues such as an aggressive body kit with a bigger spoiler.
Cooperphiles will recall that this is the second go-round for the GP package. The first appeared as a limited run of 415 two-seat Hardtops back in 2006, the final year for the first-generation Cooper. Officially known as the John Cooper Works GP Kit, it featured a similar roster of upgrades, with a power boost from the old Cooper's supercharger rather than the current car's twin-scroll turbo.
Mini claims hugely improved performance for the new GP, citing a lap time at the Nürburgring's famous Nordschleife of eight minutes and 23 seconds-19 seconds quicker than its predecessor could manage. That's some serious progress. It's also a bit misleading, however, since the current John Cooper Works Hardtop gets around the same circuit in a reported 8:35. Still, a 12-second advantage on such a demanding layout is compelling evidence that the latest GP is a uniquely capable Cooper.
Naturally, all of this extra sauce means extra cost. Pricing remained under wraps as of this writing, but the original GP was about 45 percent more expensive than a standard Cooper S, so the premium won't be trivial. Our best guess is an MSRP in the neighborhood of $34,000, or roughly $3,000 to $4,000 more than the regular JCW package, which would pit the JCW GP squarely against sport-compact superstars like the Volkswagen Golf R and even the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Look for further details to emerge soon; Mini is preparing the GP for its arrival in dealerships later this year.