Mini Reveals Radical John Cooper Works GP Concept

Arguably the most radical-looking Mini concept to appear since BMW purchased the U.K. automaker in 1994, it serves to convey the sub-brand’s plans for an even more aggressive GP model than the first- and second-generation models launched in 2006 and 2013, respectively.

Greg Kable

September 5, 2017

4 Min Read
Motorsports dominant influence on Minirsquos John Cooper Works GP Concept
Motorsports dominant influence on Mini’s John Cooper Works GP Concept.

MUNICH, Germany – Mini unveils the racy John Cooper Works GP Concept, claiming the radically styled 2-seater provides clues to a new, limited-volume racing- and rally-honed production model.

Due to make its public debut alongside an electric concept of the Mini hatchback at next week’s Frankfurt auto show, the John Cooper Works GP Concept is described as a design study created to evoke the competition-driven styling and pared-back character of earlier go-fast Mini models.

Arguably the most radical-looking Mini concept to appear since the U.K. automaker was purchased by BMW as part of the Rover Group in 1994, it serves to convey Mini’s plans for an even more aggressive GP model than the first- and second-generation models launched in 2006 and 2013, respectively.

Known under the internal working title R59 GP3, the third-generation Mini John Cooper Works GP is planned for launch in North America toward the end of the existing hatchback’s model cycle in 2019.

As well as setting the visual tone for a third John Cooper Works GP model, the new concept also serves to celebrate Mini’s long association with motorsports, both in rallying and circuit racing.

“The Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept is all about the unfettered feeling of driving and levels of performance found in motorsport competition,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member responsible for Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW’s motorcycle division. “This is driving fun in its purest form.”

Included in the John Cooper Works GP Concept’s visual makeover of the standard third-generation Mini John Cooper Works hatchback is a deep front bumper featuring a prominent splitter that protrudes from underneath the grille incorporating a trio of large air ducts.

Fashioned from carbon fiber, the new front bumper flows back to form two vertical wing elements that flare from the front fenders, giving the new concept the impression of added width. There’s also a new-look grille with a honeycomb-shaped insert, hood fasteners, headlamps with revised graphics and a single centrally mounted windshield wiper.

Farther back, Mini’s design team has provided the 3-door competition-inspired concept with F1-influenced exterior mirror housings, a roof-mounted air duct, complex sill structure underneath the doors, wing-like elements over the rear fenders similar to those used up front and a towering rear-wing element that sits above the hatchback-style tailgate.

The rear end of the John Cooper Works GP is distinguished by revised taillamps. They feature a new LED graphic that mimics the Union Jack emblem used on the English flag as a nod to the company’s beginnings and main production plant in Oxford, U.K. There’s also a deep new diffuser element that incorporates two rain lamps on either side as well as a pair of round, centrally mounted brushed aluminum tail pipes.

“If you know about Mini, you’ll be aware of the brand’s long and successful history in motorsport,” Adrian von Hooydonk, BMW Group senior vice president-design, says of the new car’s audacious look. “The John Cooper Works GP Concept brings together the full suite of defining Mini design elements and showcases them at their sportiest.

“What we’re looking at here is maximum performance, maximum Mini.”

The treatment brought to the interior of the latest Mini concept is every bit as hardcore as that applied to its exterior. The stripped-out cabin receives a full roll cage, two hardshell racing seats with 5-point belts, a new digital-instrument housing and an updated steering wheel with shift paddles.

Underlining its competition roots, the concept’s doors are opened using recessed grips with fabric straps, while a large emergency cut-off button dominates the center of the dashboard and a fire extinguisher is mounted between the low-mounted seats. The rear seat, headliner and other trim elements are deleted in the interests of weight reduction.

In a hint that future Mini models will provide a more digitally oriented control system, the suspension settings can be altered via a touch-sensitive display.

Mini is not providing any claims about the mechanical package of the John Cooper Works GP Concept.

The previous Mini John Cooper Works GP, launched in 2013, used a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cyl. gasoline engine. Codenamed N18, it delivered 215 hp and 207 lb.-ft. (281 Nm) of torque on overboost, providing the front-wheel-drive, track-focused hatchback with a 0-62 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.3 seconds and top speed of 150 mph (242 km/h).

The production version of the Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept due out in 2019, however, is expected to run a powered-up version of the turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. gasoline engine used by the latest John Cooper Works model.  Nothing is official just yet, though insiders suggest the N48-designated unit could receive the same state of tune as it does in the BMW 330i, which offers 248 hp and 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) of torque.

This would make the new John Cooper Works GP the most powerful Mini hatchback yet.

As with the previous two Mini John Cooper Works GP models, the upcoming third-generation model is expected to be produced in limited numbers and sold at a high premium compared with other, less-powerful hatchback models.

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