Auto blogThu, 25 Oct 2012 10:15:00 EST
Get your wallets ready, folks. The 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP arrives this fall, and we've now learned that the cost of entry for the potent little hatchback is $39,950, (*) including $700 for destination.
Aside from an adorably tough appearance, that just-under-$40,000 price tag gets you a whole host of performance goodies, including a turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 218 horsepower and as much as 207 pound-feet of torque. No, that isn't any more oomph than what you get in the standard JCW Hardtop, but there's a whole lot more to the GP kit. For starters, there's a fully adjustable coilover suspension, not to mention a reduction in overall weight - at 2,558 pounds, the GP is 121 pounds lighter than a normal John Cooper Works Hardtop.
A Mini spokesperson confirmed to Autoblog that the JCW GP can only be purchased one way, and will be offered as an option package on the standard John Cooper Works Hardtop. Its starting price represents a $5,150 increase over a standard JCW model, and is the most expensive model in the Mini range (the next being the $35,550 John Cooper Works Countryman).
There was a fair bit of hullabaloo two years ago when Mini announced a return to the World Rally Championship for this season, but the road to making that happen has been as rocky as a gravel stage. It spent 2011 developing its JCW Countryman WRC challenger, changing its mind about how it wanted to work with Prodrive, dumped a driver due to budget issues, then registering its entry after the deadline had passed in a ploy that might or might not have been a protest aimed at the WRC promoter.
Mini had stated that it wanted to win the whole championship in 2013, and spent 2011 doing six WRC rounds as development. As it stands for this year, the WRC Team Mini Portugal - paid for by Mini, run by ProDrive - scored 26 points in the first rally at Monte Carlo and has so far blanked the rest of the season. The relationship between Mini and ProDrive appeared to be an ever-contentious affair, at the end of this season, even the money will dry up along with what support there was.
Because it contested every race in the calendar, though, Mini says it has completed the FIA requirements for homologation of the JCW Countryman WRC; meaning that privateers can continue purchasing the car and run it in the WRC. BMW Motorsport is continuing development and parts supply of the 1.6-liter turbo engine, and a report in Autosport indicates that ProDrive will continue to run Minis in the series next year.
Mini Netherlands wanted to give its countrymen a good reason to test drive its cars, so it threw in a free cup of coffee with the spin - but not just any old cuppa joe. Cars were fitted with a sensor that analyzed the driver's style. The chip was then placed in a special coffeemaker that produced a blend to match the driving; middle-of-the-road test pilots would get a lungo (long) coffee, test-the-rollcage types were given a ristretto (short, and stronger).
The knock on the head for U.S. drivers? Milquetoast test drivers were given an Americano - a watered-down espresso. You can watch the unique promotion at work in the video below.
Mini is walking away from the rear bucket seats in its Countryman crossover. MotoringFile.com reports that starting in 2013, the CUV will no longer offer just two seats in the second row. Originally, Mini was forced to offer the buckets due to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rules governing the the minimum vehicle width for the allowance of three-wide seating. That rule was recently changed, which allowed Mini to offer the bench seat. Not surprisingly, few buyers have opted for the awkward bucket-and-rail configuration since. Moving forward, all Countryman models will also come with the vehicle's flat-load rear floor as well.
During our time with our long-term Countryman, we found the middle rail between the two buckets to be a bit gimmicky, especially given the fact that the cup holders were only large enough to accommodate a 12-ounce can.