Mini Cooper, a favourite of many for its nippy handling and city friendly character, but we're talking about the successor of the 2012 MINI John Cooper Works GP and 2006 MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, which explored the racing capabilities at the time and were built in limited numbers – 2000 worldwide. The new John Cooper Works GP Concept will make its debut at the IAA Cars 2017 in Frankfurt. The GP takes inspiration from the carmaker’s legendary triumphs in the Monte Carlo Rally exactly 50 years ago, an inspiration that BMW says has led to great performance on the track and the road.
“The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is all about the unfettered feeling of driving and levels of performance found in motor sport competition,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad. “This is driving fun in its purest form.”
With large front and rear aprons, side skirts and a prominent roof spoiler, the new GP Concept is significantly wider than the current Mini. The power-to-weight ratio has been improved by use of lightweight materials such as carbon fibre, along with promising handling due to balanced weight distribution.
“If you know about MINI, you’ll be aware of the brand’s long and successful history in motor sport,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept brings together the full suite of defining MINI design features and showcases them at their sportiest and most exciting. What we’re looking at here is maximum performance, maximum MINI.”
On the inside, the John Cooper Works GP Concept gets track-inspired elements, such as a roll cage and a pair of low-mounted bucket seats with five-point belts. The instrument cluster is clean and crisp and gear shifts are done via paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
A rear seat bench, headliner and conventional door trim panels are conspicuous by their absence, sacrificed in the interests of minimising weight. Instead, the surfaces between the elements of the roll cage and the rear compartment are trimmed in lightweight panels with textured details and a hexagonal pattern. This creates a transition between the unadorned rear and more design-rich front cabin. The doors are opened using recessed grips with fabric straps, leaving the driver and passenger to climb out through the roll cage in typical racing car style.
The character of the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept is defined by a motorsport heritage which stretches back over more than five decades. Indeed, the classic Mini was transformed by legendary sports car designer John Cooper into a byword for driving fun on the road and an extraordinarily successful competitor on the race track and rally scene.
A motorsport career which began exactly 50 years ago included three overall victories in the Monte Carlo Rally. Today, the John Cooper Works name is synonymous with products and models where quality is rooted in established motorsport know-how and an association with the British premium small car which dates back to 1959.