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Frankfurt show: Mini bulks up with JCW GP Concept

Harder, better, faster, stronger: Mini’s JCW GP Concept may only be a show car for now, but if the reception is sufficiently positive, Mini could put a third-generation version into production.

John Cooper Works GP Concept foreshadows flagship Mini three-door hot hatch

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Mini logo6 Sep 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

MINI will use its John Cooper Works (JCW) GP Concept at the Frankfurt motor show to gauge interest in a new-generation high-performance hero production hatchback.

Speaking with GoAuto, BMW Australia product communications manager Adam Davis said the Frankfurt show car was only a “design study”, but he did not rule out a showroom version down the road.

“If history is any guide, then it does hint at a potential option for future production,” he said.

The first BMW-era Mini to receive the JCW GP treatment was released in 2006 and featured tweaks to the powerplant, interior and styling. A second version based on the second-generation platform was released in 2012.

Both iterations were limited to a production run of 2000 units.

If Mini were to build a JCW GP based on the third-generation three-door hatch platform, it would likely lose the aggressive body kit worn by the show car.

Featuring a wider track under pumped out fenders front and rear, the JCW GP Concept’s front end is characterised by large air intakes and a protruding front splitter finished in lightweight carbon-fibre.

Prominent bonnet and roof scoops, a windscreen single wiper arm and hood latches give away the Mini’s sporting intentions, while weight is distributed evenly to maintain the brand’s signature go-kart feel.

Carbon-fibre is also used on the side skirts and rear apron, while the eye-catching roof-mounted rear spoiler and sleek wing mirrors denote the Mini’s concept status.

Tail-lights are designed in a half Union Jack style to pay homage to the brand’s British roots, while the concept continues the JCW GP tradition of having dual central exhaust outlets.

The JCW GP Concept is finished in a Black Jack Anthracite colour with Curbside Red and Highspeed Orange accents throughout, including on the rear spoiler, front grille, door handles and wheels, and also wears the number 0059 as a throwback to the year the classic Mini was born, 1959.

Inside, the rear seats are binned to make room for an aluminium roll cage, while the carpets, headliner and traditional door trims are also ditched to save weight.

Two bucket seats, finished in a knitted white material and black leather, with five-point racing harnesses sit up front for occupants, while driving information is relayed via all-digital instrumentation and a head-up display.

A large central touchscreen incorporates suspension adjustment controls, while the only physical controls in the cabin include a large emergency cut-off button and Mini’s unique start/stop switch.

According to the British marque, “the interior combines its pared-back sporting forms with eye-catching elements and bold colour accents” resulting in “a face-off between the less familiar aesthetic of a racing-car bodyshell and the exclusivity of high-quality production-car appointments”.

No powerplant information has been given by Mini, and given the JCW GP Concept’s show car status, there is likely nothing powering the over-styled hot hatch.

However, if a production version were to materialise, expect to see a fettled version of Mini’s familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 170kW/320Nm in the front-wheel-drive Hatch and Convertible, and 170kW/350Nm in the all-paw Clubman and Countryman.

BMW Group design senior vice president Adrian van Hooydonk said the concept car was what a sporty Mini would look like if taken to the extreme.

“The Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept brings together the full suite of defining Mini design features and showcases them at their sportiest and most exciting,” he said.

“What you are looking at here is maximum performance, maximum Mini.”

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