It’s the fastest and most powerful production MINI...ever!

MINI is in attendance at the 2019 Los Angeles with the 2020 John Cooper Works, the fastest and most powerful production MINI ever created. The souped-up version of the MINI John Cooper Works was built with performance in mind, delivering the kind of power and ferocity never before seen in a production MINI. The hot hatch also benefits from important aerodynamic upgrades, but it’s the introduction of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine — the most powerful engine ever fitted in a production MINI — that sets the 2020 John Cooper Works GP apart. Only 3,000 units of the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP will be built with each unit priced from $44,900. Deliveries of the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP begin in March 2020.

The Predecessor

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The relationship between MINI and John Cooper Works feels like it’s been around forever, but, in reality, it only started in 2002 when the latter was founded by Michael Cooper, the son of John Cooper, the racing car maker who is responsible for developing and building the original MINI Cooper. Five years after John Cooper Works came to life, MINI’s parent company, BMW, acquired JCW’s naming rights in 2007 and bought out the company entirely in 2008.

Since that buyout, MINI has produced a number of John Cooper Works models, including the 2013 John Cooper Works GP, the only other time that the MINI JCW included the “GP” suffix in its name. This particular model was commonly referred to as the GP2, and just like the model that’s causing a lot of buzz in Los Angeles today, it was prepared as a limited-edition, track-oriented version of the “standard” John Cooper Works hatchback.

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The GP2 was as ferocious as advertised. It featured a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 214 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. It was capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds to go with a top speed of 150 mph. The John Cooper Works GP2 was only offered with a six-speed manual transmission, making it a ball of fun to drive on the open road. Only 2,000 units were built, including 500 units that were earmarked for the U.S. market. At the time, the 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP2 carried a price tag of $39,950, and when all 2,000 models were sold, MINI shelved the “GP” suffix, leaving it idling for the next six years until the successor of the pocket rocket arrived.

Looks Like a Proper Track Car

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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Six years after the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP2 arrived, MINI is bringing the nameplate back with the introduction of the 2020 John Cooper Works GP.

It’s not as limited as its predecessor — 3,000 units will be made — but everything about the new JCW GP lives up — maybe even exceeds — the performance standards set by the 2013 model.

The 2020 JCW GP isn’t just fast. It’s not just powerful, either. It is, according to MINI, the fastest and most powerful production MINI ever built. For an automaker that has provided us with hot hatch thrills over the years, this is an all-new level of benchmarking from MINI.

Fortunately, there is no hyperbole in MINI’s words. The 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP is every bit as fast and as powerful as MINI makes it out to be. You don’t even have to look into the hot hatch’s engine or find out its power and performance numbers to understand that. You just need to look at the hot hatch’s bodywork and you’ll notice the decidedly more aggressive look brought about by all the aerodynamic components it’s been given.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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Up front, the flared fender flares are downright impossible to miss. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as some might expect, but it’s supposedly there for aerodynamic reasons, and if that comes in the name of improved performance, then it probably belongs in the hot hatch, even if it looks a little tawdry on the eyes. The rest of the front section looks JCW-like, and the polished red trim and accents in the grille and front splitter do add a sportier and more aggressive profile. Move to the other side of the JCW GP and you’ll see the large split-wing resting comfortably above the rear hatch. There’s a futuristic element in its design that I’m not sure jives with the retro-inspired look of the hot hatch, but again, if it’s there for aerodynamic reasons, then who are we to complain about how the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP looks.

I will say that I love the hot hatch’s wheels. The set is one of the highlights of the vehicle, in part because the 18-inch forged wheels look great and that they only weigh 20 pounds each. They’re also wrapped in a set of equally enticing 225-35 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo tires.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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If you’re a fan of the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP’s looks, you probably won’t have any complaints about the hot hatch only being available in the same Racing Gray metallic paint finish that the display car at the LA Auto Show is sporting. If you’re not a fan of the color and its Melting Silver metallic and Chilli Red accents, well, you’re out of luck.

No-Frills Interior for a No-Frills Spec Racer

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Interior
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The interior of the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP is what you’d expect for a hot hatch that prioritizes performance over everything else.

MINI ditched the rear seats entirely for weight-saving purposes and in its place is a strut tower brace.

This setup shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that the past two JCW GP models, including the GP2, came with the same configuration. Adding to this MINI’s weight savings agenda is the option to buy the car without air conditioning. I’m not sure this suits everyone, but if you want to maximize the 2020 JCW GP’s performance potential, you might have no choice but to sweat it out in the car. You should be familiar with the rest of the interior, including the large round center console and the two cup holders sitting comfortably in front of the gear shifter. Yes, you can go balls-to-the-wall in the 2020 MINI JCW GP and still have space for your Starbucks macchiato.

Power and Performance, Redefined

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be
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There are no two ways about it. MINI developed the John Cooper Works GP to become the fastest and most powerful production MINI ever created. Living up to that claim means using the most powerful engine ever fitted to a production MINI.

That engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit that produces a muscle-flexing 302 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.

For perspective, the JCW GP comes with 74 more horsepower than the standard JCW, a by-product of a series of mechanical modifications that include upgraded internals, a new free-flowing exhaust, and a modified turbocharger. A larger volume intake was also installed and upgrades to the oil and cooling system were made to round the turbocharged four-cylinder engine into race car shape.

It’s hard not to understate just how impressive this setup is. Comparing the 2020 JCW GP to the 2013 JCW GP2 is like comparing a 2020 race-spec car to, well, a 2013 race-spec race car. It’s not a fair comparison, but for comparison’s sake, the 2020 JCW GP has 84 horsepower and a whopping 140 pound-feet of torque over its predecessor. MINI said that the 2020 JCW GP can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, though the folks over at CNET’s Roadshow managed to take the hot hatch for a spin and clocked in a 0-to-60-mph time of five seconds. Either way, the 2020 JCW GP is around a second faster than the 2013 JCW GP to 60 mph. This thing accelerates like a boss.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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Comparing the JCW GP to the standard JCW also brings out predictable results. The standard MINI JCW features a similar yet slightly less sophisticated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger that produces 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which, in turn, sends power to the hatch’s two front wheels. This results in a 0-60 acceleration time of six seconds and a top speed of 144 mph. The MINI JCW GP’s top speed? 165 mph.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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If the 2020 MINI JCW GP has one flaw, it’s the absence of a manual transmission, something that was offered in the 2013 JCW GP.

Instead, the 2020 JCW GP comes with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission with a mechanical locking differential. Fans of the model have come to accept this erroneous omission, but it’s still worth mentioning given that a 2020 MINI JCW GP with a manual transmission remains a pipe dream for a lot of people.

The extensive engine modifications mean that the hot hatch’s suspension also underwent serious changes. In this case, MINI lowered the suspension by 0.4 inches to compensate for the amount of power the JCW GP’s bringing to the table. Modifications for increased camber were also made while stiffer bushings were put in place to help the rigidity of the whole setup. The rear wishbones, in particular, are mounted on stiffer ball sleeve joints instead of rubber bushings. That tells you that MINI wants the JCW GP’s suspension setup to be as conducive to the power and performance capabilities of the hot hatch.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP Is Every Bit as Wild as We Thought It Would Be Exterior
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As I mentioned, MINI intends to build only 3,000 units of the 2020 JCW GP. That’s 1,000 more units compared to its predecessor.

Pricing starts at $44,900 which is admittedly more expensive than we imagined, especially when you consider that the standard JCW starts at just under $35,000.

That’s a $10,000 gap between these two models, though we are talking about the fastest and most powerful production MINI ever created.

Deliveries of the 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP begin in March 2020.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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