Not all cars are created equally. And that is definitely the case with the new Mini GP.
Anyone knows the next 2 words: MINI GP. It’s those last 2 letters, GP, that make this special. GP’s have always been the fastest, most nimble MINIs of their generation. And the new one looks like a hoot to drive.
Everyone remembers the MINI GP concept from a few years ago and everyone (including me) thought: “well they won’t be putting it into production like that”.
But boy were we wrong. The big gopping wing is still there, we wonder how much it actually helps for downforce but that doesn’t matter. It looks so fricking cool!
Next up are those big fenders, who thought you’d see that on a production car?! The fenders are actually carbon fiber reinforced plastics that come from leftovers of the i3 and i8 production.
The big fenders not only accommodate the wider tires and wider track but also directs airflow around the car.
And the cherry on the GP-pie is the red strut brace in the back (which MINI admits is mostly to keep the shopping sliding forward when braking hard).
A shot of steriods
The earlier GP’s had about 20 hp more than the standard cars at the end of their life. However, this third-generation MINI GP has a whopping 306 hp and 450 Nm. Because MINI says enough is never enough. We agree.
However, that said, pushing that much power and torque through the front wheels only does make it quite the handful.
Whenever you’re on the power it will follow wherever the road goes and tramlines like crazy. You need to really pay attention to the road as the GP will bite you and toss you off the road if you don’t pay attention.
The MINI GP accelerates to 100 km/h in a frisk 5.2 seconds. That’s cause the power is sent through an 8-speed automatic. The first time an automatic makes an appearance. It’s quick-shifting when you let it do its job but once you start doing some manual commands through those 3D-printed shifting pedals it’s not as crisp as I’d like.
MINI says the automatic is there to get the fastest lap times in but I think most of us would still prefer a manual gearbox (which effectively is lighter) in their GP. Another reason might just be that there’s no manual transmission available that handles the vast power and torque of the GP.
Naturally, as you would expect, this is the most important piece of a GP. It’s meant to show bigger, more powerful cars that bigger is not always better.
The car has been stiffened quite a lot, to the point where you have to be quite hardcore to daily it. The track has been widened and the car has been dropped an additional 10 mm.
It also rides on these extremely sticky Hankook semi-slick tires which also tend to drone quite a bit when driving but that’s the trade-off you’re making.
The result of all of this is amazing. There’s just an endless amount of grip but when you start really pushing, it starts to get tricky. The wheels will just follow wherever the road goes and when the road is uneven. You need to be on edge. And if you get it right it’s so rewarding. The GP is such a fast-moving car, so fast that you start wondering if you should actually do speeds like these on public roads.
Unlike anything being made today
It’s wild, you have to be on the edge to properly drive it. And that’s what I love so much about this car. Most cars these days just kinda take you along for the ride when going fast. But the MINI GP is a different story. Do anything silly or don’t pay attention and it will bite you for sure.
Everything about this car is just right. Except…
That 8-Speed Automatic, unfortunately. The previous GP’s were all manual only and I’m missing one in this GP. Okay yes, the automatic might be the faster option on track. But most people who do track days aren’t chasing after lap records. They just want to have an epic day with the car.
And don’t get me wrong, it’ll still be a hoot on the track, no doubt. But if it had a manual, this car would’ve been perfect.
Either way, this is one of the best cars I’ve driven in a very long time.