2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

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2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP Review: The Ultimate Mini

High-performance hatchbacks like the Mini Cooper GP are a rare breed. There simply aren't many other hot hatches around offering the same entertaining mix of small size and big-hearted performance, and the new John Cooper Works GP aims to exploit this pint-sized gap in the US market even further. With 301 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, this is now the fastest-ever road-going Mini. It'll scorch to 60 mph in just five seconds, and the marque says it has lapped the Nurburgring in under eight minutes. For anyone who feels like the Honda Civic Type R takes up too much space in the garage, this is the perfect answer. However, although Mini's legendary kart-like handling and some outlandish body modifications mark the GP out as something special, it only comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission. At $44,900, it's far more expensive than the regular John Cooper Works hatch and the Type R. But if it's the ultimate Mini Cooper you're after, nothing else will suffice.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 10 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 6 /10
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2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 John Cooper Works GP?

The 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP is a new arrival and takes its place atop the Mini range. With 301 hp, it's over 70 hp up on the Mini John Cooper Works and adds a healthy 332 lb-ft of torque to that. Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, it'll sprint to 60 mph in five seconds flat. A more engaging driving experience is assured with a model-specific exhaust system, a lowered suspension, and there is a special oil supply/cooling system exclusive to the Mini John Cooper Works GP. It looks the part, too, thanks to flared carbon wheel arch covers and bespoke front/rear aprons. With performance a top priority, the rear seats have been discarded, and acoustic insulation has been reduced over other Mini models. Only 3,000 units will be made worldwide, with just a sliver of those coming Stateside.

Pros and Cons

  • It's the quickest road-going Mini ever
  • Massive acceleration from turbo motor
  • Just as effective through the corners, too
  • Cheeky styling with striking GP-specific add-ons
  • Limited production boosts exclusivity
  • Should've had a manual 'box
  • Jarring ride
  • Engine doesn't sing the sweetest tune
  • In pursuit of sheer speed, it's not the most fun Mini to drive

What's the Price of the 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP?

Take a deep breath. The Mini John Cooper Works GP elevates the price for a two-door Mini hatch into an entirely new realm. It carries a base MSRP of $44,900, which is a whole $12,500 more than a base JCW. This price excludes tax, licensing, registration, and a destination/handling cost of $850. At close to $10,000 cheaper, the less exclusive but far more practical Honda Civic Type R suddenly looks like a bargain.

Best Deals on 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
John Cooper Works GP
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Already lighter than the John Cooper Works, Mini has made a couple of other enhancements to the GP. A modified rear axle member and a front strut brace are among the changes, while the tracks were widened and the body was dropped by just under 0.4 inches. Rigidity has been increased, and there are specially tuned springs. All of this is aimed at improved lateral acceleration and clocking the best lap times, as evidenced by the GP's Nurburgring time of below eight minutes.

On the road, it translates into a Mini that feels less fun but more focused than other variants in the range. Torque steer and wheelspin are less pronounced than in other Minis, body roll is notable by its absence, and grip is exceptional. The GP just annihilates each corner in the most brutally efficient manner possible, making it faster but perhaps a bit less engaging than we want a Mini to be. Although there is a rear cross-brace where back seats would normally be, this is more to prevent luggage from sliding around than a contributor to enhanced rigidity. There aren't a ton of configurable driving modes to sift through, either, so there's no softening the rather hard ride, although it isn't entirely intolerable. So, although the GP may not offer all of the nuance and playfulness of lesser Minis on the road, it is a monster on track and on smooth surfaces where its power and grip can be fully exploited.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP A Good car?

Although flawed, it's difficult not to admire Mini's focus in this John Cooper Works GP review. It's been single-mindedly built to be the fastest, most track-capable Mini yet, and it achieves this with aplomb. Over 300 horsepower and under 3,000 pounds of weight combine to make this a formidable package that can legitimately challenge the Honda Civic Type R for straight-line pace. With tons of grip and less drama when powering through corners, it's a more effective tool than regular Minis, and, with its outrageous body kit, it looks the part, too. But there's no getting away from the fact that this is a less practical and much more expensive alternative to the standard JCW. We also can't help but feel that a manual gearbox would make it a more enjoyable car to drive. If these are compromises you are willing to make, though, the GP affords you Mini bragging rights that can't be beaten.

What Mini John Cooper Works GP Model Should I Buy?

As there is only one model to go for, the big decision is really whether the GP is worth the extra cash over the regular JCW. As a weekend toy and collector's item, there's no doubt that it is, but if you need your Mini for more than just this, the JCW may be a smarter choice. Options are few and far between, but we'd tick the box for the climate control system as the kind of speeds that the GP is capable of are bound to raise body temperatures.

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP Comparisons

Mini Cooper Hardtop Mini
Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP vs Mini Cooper Hardtop

The new GP is notably more expensive than other Minis. Put up against the base Cooper S, and you'll need to cough up $18,500 more for the GP. With 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, the Cooper S is naturally down on power compared with the GP, taking 6.5 seconds to go from 0-60 mph. That's nippy performance, but it can't compete with the GP. However, unlike the GP, the 2021 Cooper S can be had with a manual gearbox (the 2020 version only offered a dual-clutch gearbox), whereas the GP is restricted to an eight-speed automatic. Although the Cooper S is far from a spacious hatch, at least it has rear seats, which makes it the more practical option, although the GP does have a large cargo area. To drive, the GP astounds with its grip and poise, but it also feels occasionally too powerful, whereas the Cooper S has a perfect balance of power and control. It's difficult to directly compare these two considering the price difference; the GP is a much more potent machine and its rarity will appeal, but the Cooper S is a more balanced and far more affordable warm hatchback.

See Mini Cooper Hardtop Review

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

Set to arrive as a 2021 model, the all-new Golf GTI should once again prove to be one of the most well-rounded hatchbacks in the USA when we review it. While the GP is ideal for track days, the Golf GTI will be expected to fulfill multiple obligations as a fun-to-drive hatch, a family car, and a daily commuter. Although the Mini has a stylish cabin, the more mature GTI offers far more space as well as the availability of more creature comforts. Under the hood, the GTI will also pack a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, but a power deficit of over 50 hp means it's comfortably outgunned by the GP. The GTI will also offer a six-speed manual gearbox and a seven-speed dual-clutch 'box, making it more appealing to more people. It should comfortably undercut the GP on price, too. All in all, the GTI simply does more things than the GP, but the ultimate Mini is the more charismatic hot hatch.

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