Mini cranks up the heat with John Cooper Works GP Concept
Mini's not-always-so-mini production line-up is an acquired taste, but its concepts and special editions often show unique styling and ideas that lend to broader appeal. Whether it's a tent plopped squarely atop a Countryman roof, a Clubman dressed up like a scrambler, or an electric roadster penned by some of Italy's finest, Mini's concepts have a way of opening the mind to new possibilities in small (or not so small) commuting. In Frankfurt, the mind will be entertaining the idea of an utterly aggressive Cooper that epitomizes "driving fun in its purest form," on road and on track.
The new Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept will join the Electric Concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, creating a bit of "naughty and nice" interplay on Mini's stand. It's not the first GP-spec Mini to lay rubber on asphalt, but as a concept car, it looks well more extreme than the 2012 JCW GP or 2006 Mini Cooper S with JCW GP Kit.
Each of the two previous GP models was the fastest Mini of its time, but since Mini hasn't dropped all the JCW GP Concept's specs, it's not clear if the new concept joins the "fastest Mini ever" club. It's also not clear how powerful the turbo engine is, but whatever that number, the mean, little track car is sure to make efficient use of it thanks to a performance-boosting aerodynamics kit, race-inspired suspension, and optimized and balanced weight.
The GP Concept's huge roof spoiler is visible from virtually every possible angle. Depending on which angle you're viewing from, that spoiler jostles for attention with updates like the dramatic side slashes, large front intakes, side skirts or flared arches.
The front-end wears a particularly aggressive look, its dramatic splitter jutting out far enough to make the car look like it wants to literally suck itself onto the asphalt below. The widened track, air scooped hood, and broad honeycomb grille add to the powerful, race-inspired look.
Badging, numbering and a few add-on design cues around the body let you know exactly what this Mini concept is all about. The taillights incorporate the Union Jack in their design, and "0059" numbering represents the Mini's 1959 launch. Curbside Red Metallic and Highspeed Orange accents explode to life off the Black Jack Anthracite paint, further enhancing sportiness, and a rather un-mini "Mini" on the rear fascia ensures you don't mistake the concept for any other make as it speeds away down-track.
Many of the GP Concept's most defining visual features are also its lightest, the construction of the front apron, side sills and rear vents capitalizing on carbon fiber. Mini doesn't specify a final weight but emphasizes weight savings as integral to the concept's build.
Saved weight is also integral to the car's interior design, where two bucket seats sit inside a roll cage with little fanfare or dress. Mini has pulled out the rear bench, headliner and majority of interior trim, and a fire extinguisher mounted to the bare floor between the seats adds an exclamation point to the no-nonsense, weight-chopping approach.
That's not to say that all modern cabin technology is left behind at the starting line, though. Mini has created a driver-focused cockpit with head-up display, digital instrument cluster and ride-focused central touch control hub. Paddle shifters are mounted on the steering wheel, and a few toggles and switches add a touch more hard control in the center stack.
Mini has designed the new GP Concept in honor of the 50th anniversary of its racing triumphs at the Monte Carlo Rally and mentions the prospect of a street-legal production version. We're looking forward to learning more about the Mini Electric Concept, but the GP Concept is the one we're looking forward to seeing. We will be checking them both out when the Frankfurt Motor Show opens to the media on September 12 and will bring you all the details that Mini sees fit to reveal.