Mini John Cooper Works GP prototype takes on Goodwood hill climb

Mini’s upcoming John Cooper Works GP hot hatchback has made its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

A camoflagued prototype is taking part in the event’s famous hillclimb, giving British Mini fans a first taste of the 300bhp hot hatch following its disguised public debut at this weekend’s Nurburgring 24 hour race.

All the news from the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019

Development cars wrapped in camouflage took to the ‘ring before the start of the famous endurance race to preview the brand’s most powerful and fastest production model yet, which is due to go on sale in 2020.

Mini used the event to confirm the car would see a limited production run, with just 3000 models produced worldwide – some 1000 cars more than either its immediate predecessor or the 2006 Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP kit.

The British firm previously revealed that the hot hatchback will arrive with over 300bhp from a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

The JCW GP was recently spotted undergoing testing, confirming that the production car would retain the extreme rear wing design, aggressive bodykit and bespoke wheels seen in the 2017 GP Concept.

The four-cylinder turbocharged engine will make the GP the fastest and most powerful road-going Mini ever built by the company. No performance figures have been confirmed, although the company appears to be targeting the 8:23 Nürburgring-Nordschleife lap time achieved by its predecessor. Mini has confirmed that an early development prototype has already achieved a lap time some 30 seconds faster than the last-gen car, though no specific times have been announced.

Initial teaser images released by Mini showed a close-up of the rear diffuser, apparently previewing a design that’s revised from the original concept, and four-spoke alloy wheels that aren’t as motorsport-inspired as the centre-locking 19in wheels used on the concept.

The 2017 concept’s large front and rear aprons are unlikely to be carried over in their entirety to the production model, although its LED rear lights which display half of the Union Jack in a nod to the car’s British origin, have since become standard on the regular Mini hatchback.

The prominent use of lightweight materials including carbonfibre, which Mini said optimised the car’s power-to-weight ratio, may yet make it into the final car, although this would come with an increase in price.

Inside, the concept had a rollcage and pair of low-mounted bucket seats, with gearshifts controlled by paddles on the steering wheel. Mini has yet to reveal if the production version will follow suit.

The BMW-owned British brand said the concept is inspired by its triumphs at the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s, “embodying dynamic flair and the ultimate in driving fun”.

BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer previously told Autocar that a JCW GP model was likely to appear again. “The John Cooper Works GP is an important part of the Mini brand,” he said. “It has worked well for us in the past.”

Both the original and second-generation modern Minis offered a JCW GP model near the end of the mainstream models’ lifecycle, in 2006 and 2012 respectively. The new JCW GP will arrive shortly before the predicted launch of the new Mini hatchback.

The most recent JCW GP, launched in 2012, used a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 215bhp, a 7bhp increase over the standard JCW at that time. It hit 0-62mph in 6.3sec and cost £28,790.

The current standard JCW adopted a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 227bhp and also hits 0-62mph in 6.3sec, so you can expect increases to both power and speed for the third-generation JCW GP.

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