In more ways than one.
Despite being some of the biggest paradoxes in the motoring industry, special editions of limited-run cars aren't anything new or surprising. Porsche has managed to spin two such iterative editions from its 991 GT3, in the form of the GT3 RS and 911 R, and Lamborghini was somehow able to get away with building no less than 35 different variations of the Gallardo. So, as expected from a brand that's stretched the Cooper name from family runabout to hot hatch, Mini's now making a more extreme version of the hardcore JCW model.
Dubbed the 'John Cooper Works Challenge' (not to be confused with the Mini Challenge one-make racing car and the Challenge 210 Edition road car it inspired), the new Mini hot hatch seems to be easiest to describe as the spiritual successor to the perky pair of JCW GP models. Production will be highly limited, for a start (though by how much is yet to be known at the moment), and the overall chassis will be given a more raw, track-focused makeover. We've already been told that adjustable suspension, better brakes, stickier tires and new exterior trim pieces will be the headline alterations made in the regular John Cooper Works' conversion into a Challenge model, and it would be a huge surprise if that was the extent of the changes Mini will be making.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is that the crew working on the John Cooper Works Challenge isn't limited to Mini's development team.
Also joining the engineers and technicians are the writers of Evo Magazine - you know, that monthly British motoring rag with the tagline of 'The Thrill of Driving' and the co-hosts of several annual track days across the UK? Having a more hardcore Mini JCW model being guided by the road testers on a magazine that places an emphasis on driving enjoyment is a very exciting contribution, and we can't wait to see what the end result is. Even if we will admittedly take Evo's initial review and group test verdicts on the JCW Challenge with a pinch of salt if they're overwhelmingly positive.