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MINI GP3 goes beyond the 300hp barrier. Image by MINI.

MINI GP3 goes beyond the 300hp barrier
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What's all this about?

Are you up on your MINIs? If so, what's the hottest MINI of all: the Cooper S, the John Cooper Works or the JCW Challenge?

Oh, it's the Challenge, undoubtedly. Er... isn't it?

Nope, it isn't. It's none of the above. It is, in fact, the MINI John Cooper Works GP. Of which we've already had two previous installations. These were the rather clunkily named MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit of 2006, often colloquially known as the GP1, and then 2013's MINI John Cooper Works GP, aka the GP2. Both of these, built in limited runs of just 2,000 units each, are guaranteed future classics - and probably already going up in value as we speak. They were grey, they featured their build numbers on the bodywork, they had big rear spoilers, 218hp from forced induction, 1.6-litre engines (a supercharged one for the GP1, a turbocharged lump for the GP2), distinctive alloy wheels and no rear seats... a strut brace instead taking their place. Focused and hardcore and lots of fun, the GP series is the road-going MINI at its most maxi.

So, I am guessing there's a point to this little history lesson?

Oh, indeed there is. The GP1 was the final model of the 'R50'-spawned first generation of BMW's MINI, while the GP2 closed the book on the 'R56'-based second-generation car. The current Mk3 MINI, or the 'F56' family, is slowly winding down to go out of production.

Oooo! Have we got a GP3 coming, then?

You are most perceptive. We have. Or, at least, we've got a scant few details on the 2020-slated sign-off for this round of the modern MINI. Taking its inspiration from the previous two MINI GPs, but also quite clearly signposted by the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept shown at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, next year's GP3 will be the fastest, most powerful production MINI so far. As the Cooper S has 192hp and the JCW runs 231hp, the GP3 needs to eclipse them. And eclipse them it will - with a 'turbocharged four-cylinder engine' with 'more than 300hp'. Yes, that's right - 300hp. In a MINI. The world's gone blinkin' mad.

Cor blimey! Do we know which engine this is?

Not exactly, but there's a good bet it will be the 306hp/450Nm unit that has been confirmed for use in the BMW X2 M35i, because the X2 is basically the MINI platform in a fancy BMW SUV frock. That means it'll be a 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo unit and it's a heck of a lot of punch for a small hatchback. Indeed, MINI is happy to bandy about the GP2's Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time of 8m 23s, presumably because the GP3 will smash this to smithereens and maybe go hard enough around the Green Hell to crack the eight-minute barrier. MINI has already confirmed that the GP3 will have its own suspension and aerodynamic set-ups, while it is going into 'whole-vehicle testing on the race track' in the coming months. As the kids say, much excite about this one.

Matt Robinson - 15 Feb 2019

2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP preview. Image by MINI.2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP preview. Image by MINI.      - MINI road tests
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