The Challenge is still intended to be perfectly at home as a day-to-day runaround, but, having produced a car of such performance caliber in the JCW, Mini says it was keen to see just what might be possible in tailoring it for the track. The Challenge is based on the latest John Cooper Works Hatch, which is the most powerful Mini ever produced.
Powered by a 2.0-l four-cylinder engine, the Hatch kicks out 231 hp (172 kW) and 320 Nm (235 lb.ft) of torque, with a 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) time of 6.3-seconds and a top speed of 153 mph (246 km/h). As such, the development team decided it was content with the power and, instead, set about refining the chassis, suspension, tires and braking, among other features, borrowing from the Mini Challenge racing car along the way.
To begin with, the JCW Challenge has enlarged front air intakes for cooling, newly contoured wheel arch extensions and a rear spoiler. The JCW Pro Aerokit, which is an option for the standard model, gives the Challenge lower front splitters, rear spoiler add-ons, a rear diffuser and rear splitters, all aimed at improving the car's aerodynamic performance. A JCW Pro exhaust is fitted to maximize the output of spent gases.
The Challenge's suspension employs Nitron coilover spring and damper units, for which the bump, rebound and overall ride height can be adjusted. Recommended road and track settings are provided, but drivers can tune the suspension precisely as they see fit. Quaife automatic torque biasing limited slip differential provides improved traction by rerouting power away from a spinning front wheel during acceleration.
Additional traction is also provided courtesy of "super-sticky" Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Mini says they provide high levels of grip, without causing any refinement issues, and will be fitted to the 17-in wheel of the standard John Cooper Works Hatch, albeit one that is 0.5-in (12.7 mm) wider.
To reign in the improved performance of the JCW Challenge, there are grooved and part-drilled 330-mm (13-in) front brake discs with four-pot (or four-piston) Brembo-developed calipers, along with specially developed brake pads. Mini says that this combination will deliver excellent on-track braking performance both on the track and on the road.
Every John Cooper Works Challenge is painted in White Silver. Inside, there are JCW sports seats, a sports steering wheel and Carbon Black cloth upholstery.
Only 100 John Cooper Works Challenges will be produced, all of which will be made available in the UK only. They will be priced at £32,000 (US$45,400) each and the car will debut at the UK's Goodwood Festival of Speed from June 23 - 26.