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Why the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP Matters: As should be obvious from a quick glance around the industry, hot hatches have never been hotter. The Blue Oval recently released the 2013 Ford Focus ST and confirmed the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, the Chrysler Group has added a drop-top model to its 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth, the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo may go topless soon as well (see the Roll Top concept from this year’s L.A. Auto Show), Volkswagen is prepping the all-new 2014 VW GTI for U.S. buyers, and even GM is earning some fans for its 2013 Chevy Sonic RS.
Clearly then, it was time for one of the segment’s pioneers to step up its game, and the result is the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP—the fastest production car to ever wear the MINI moniker. With the brand continuing to expand its portfolio in unexpected directions, the GP should be a quick reminder of MINI’s roots while also adding a touch of exclusivity to the range. Just 2,000 will be built globally, with a mere 500 coming to America, and its price tag will be anything but MINI. Drivers will need to pony up $39,950 for the car, although that does include a $700 destination fee.
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What’s New for the 2013 MINI John Coopers Works GP:
- A uniquely tuned version of MINI’s 1.6-liter I4 turbo, now capable of making 211 hp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque (with an overboost system) and mated to a six-speed manual transmission
- MINI’s first adjustable coil-over suspension
- High-performance six-piston, fixed-caliper disc brakes
- Exclusive 17-inch GP four-spoke alloy wheels, wrapped in 215/40 R17 sport tires
- A revised Dynamic Stability Control system featuring a more athletic “GP racing mode”
- Improved aerodynamics, thanks to an aero kit that slices the car’s coefficient of drag by 6 percent
- An exceedingly driver-focused cabin with Recaro sport seats up front and no seats at all in the back
- Interior rear bracing for added stiffness
- Tasteful “GP” and “John Cooper Works” badging, embroidery and logo accents
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New 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP: Styling and Design
Wearing essentially the same aero pieces as the “regular” JCW Hardtop, the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP is distinguished by an exclusive exterior color scheme that features a Thunder Grey metallic finish with red accents. Particularly appealing is the way designers worked that red color into the side air intakes up front, although outlining the hood inlet the same way wasn’t quite so successful. Still, the look is fairly fresh, even though MINI did resort to the trendy blackout look for the car’s xenon headlight treatment.
The brand also showed some restraint in its deployment of exterior graphics. There’s a nice stripe along the lower flanks of the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP, and the placement of a “GP” graphic at the entrance to its hood scoop is pretty nifty, too. On the other hand—and it’s hardly a deal-breaker—the “GP” font isn’t very sophisticated.
Cabin-wise, the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP takes a no-nonsense approach that “is focused entirely on the needs of the driver and ‘co-driver.’” Certainly, neither will be distracted by any bright hues, as the car gets a fairly conventional—albeit fairly premium—color palette inside. It’s a combination of piano black and anthracite, with a dash of chrome and red, and the cockpit is then capped off by a pair of Recaro sport seats with “GP” stitching.
Now, as long as we’re discussing seats, it’s important to re-emphasize that the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP only has two of them. The rears have been deleted in favor of visible cross-members that provide added stiffness to the car’s chassis—as well as a unique style cue that’s emphasized by the bracing’s bright red color and silver end caps.
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New 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP: What’s Under the Hood
As many enthusiasts know, the MINI brand is now owned by BMW, and one of the happier outcomes of that relationship is that MINI products benefit from the Bavarian’s extensive powertrain expertise. Thus, the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP holsters an advanced 1.6-liter I4 engine with twin-scroll turbocharging, direct injection and a variable valve-control system derived from BMW’s innovative VALVETRONIC technology. Also in the motor mix are features like an aluminum cylinder block and bearing mounts, reinforced pistons and cylinder head, low-weight crankshafts, and sodium-filled exhaust valves.
Leveraging that technology, the GP’s engine makes 211 hp (a bump of three horses over the non-GP Cooper Works car) and 192 lb.-ft. of torque—under normal conditions. For a short-term surge of added power, the GP also features an overboost system that can deliver an extra 15 lb.-ft. of torque. It all adds up to a top speed of 150 mph, the ability to go from a full stop to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, and a Nürburgring time of 8:23 that is some 18 seconds faster than mark set by the previous MINI John Cooper Works GP of 2006.
And while EPA numbers are not yet available, MINI expects the 2013 GP to also exceed the fuel-efficiency marks of its 2006 predecessor—which would mean something north of 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway.
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New 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP: Features and Technology
As should surprise no one by now, the big story about the new MINI’s features and technology is headlined by a focus on performance. Among the more innovative examples of this is its driver-adjustable coil-over suspension—the first ever used in a MINI—which allows pilots to lower the vehicle’s ride height by 20 mm. Other handling-enhancing tech of note includes a shock setup in which the front shock absorbers are actually mounted upside down as compared to the typical suspension, to deliver additional stiffness.
In addition, the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP comes standard with a performance-oriented version of the brand’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system with an exclusive GP “racing” mode. The advantage? While most conventional stability control systems reduce engine power when they kick in during aggressive cornering, that isn’t the case with DSC. Instead, the GP’s system relies primarily on its Electronic Differential Lock Control feature, designed to shift more torque to the outside driving wheel for improved performance.
The GP also debuts a new aerodynamic shield that completely seals off the underside of the engine bay; well, almost completely. Engineers did design cooling slits in the bottom of the shield that use the magic of aerodynamics to allow onrushing air to suck the heat out of the engine compartment.
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New 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP: What Autobytel Thinks
A $40,000 MINI might be enough to make most folks blanch—especially when you consider that the Ford Fiesta ST is expected to undercut that price point by at least 15 large—but for those for whom price is no object, the 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP is likely to be the subject of much demand when it arrives in the U.S. in March.
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