She has been with us for a few months now, but she is very discreet and for good reason. Only 59 MINI GPs are made available for sale in Canada out of the 3,000 that will be built worldwide. We had the chance to get our hands on unit number 2870 briefly at Canadian Motorsport Park in Ontario last week.
A real sportswoman
Through the great diversity of MINI models there have been in the past two other MINI GPs powered by a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine which was not naughty, but, did not give the full potential to this small car. who deserved better. For this third livery, BMW has decided to take matters into its own hands by installing the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder under the hood that sits under the hood of the X2 and other models in the family. This engine pushes power to 301 horsepower with 335 lb-ft of torque and gets you to 100 km / h in 5 seconds. The only small disappointment, BMW did not bother to install a manual transmission and left the eight-speed automatic transmission which is also found at BMW. Note however that this box is flexible, well staged and that the different driving modes including a manual mode allow to extract the full potential of the mechanics.
Seeing the beast, you will have no doubt about its vocation. There is a spoiler at the back that acts as a clothesline to use a local expression. The bumpers are tapered, the conspicuous stainless steel tailpipes are sure to attract attention. Add to that the fender wideners up front, the serial number on the rear quarter panel, the 18-inch forged aluminum rims shod with semi-slick Hankook tires and you’ve got a little racing car that exudes adrenaline. This racing atmosphere is also present inside. The standard equipment list includes tinted windows, sport seats, LED lights and cruise control. Our test model also offered the navigation system Plus, complete with touchscreen and Apple CarPlay preparation. MINI has got rid of the rear seats to leave plenty of cargo space that will allow you to carry your 4 spare tires if you are doing a weekend race. A cross bar placed behind the front seats stiffens the structure. You also have a metal trapeze under the car which plays the same role. The manually adjustable seats bear the GP logo. The removal of the rear seats and the elimination of all-wheel drive allowed MINI to shed a lot of weight. The GP weighs only 1,255 kilos, that’s almost 300 kilos less than a Clubman equipped with the same engine. To make sure it can survive the torture of a road circuit, MINI installed fixed four-piston calipers and 360mm discs up front, an improved cooling system and the same Torsen limited-slip differential found at BMW. . Finally, this GP is 10 mm lower than the other MINIs to better stick to the ground.
Home on the track
Needless to say, on a racetrack, this was by far the funniest car of the day. This is arguably the closest go-kart feel that you are going to experience in a car. The extreme rigidity of the chassis allows the car to be launched exactly where you want it. Even with the temperature hovering around 3 degrees on a still wet circuit, we managed an impressive course. After 20 minutes when the circuit started to dry and the tires started to heat up, we were welded to the ground. It’s easy to imagine on a hot July day that this car is capable of breaking the laws of gravity. After a few laps in manual mode on the circuit, we were able to appreciate the gearbox which, however, remains too comfortable for the extreme nature of this small machine. A manual transmission would add just what is missing.
According to MINI officials, there are a few copies left in Canada of this $ 51,990 MINI. Yes it’s a lot of money, but it’s also a lot of car. But better to be registered in an automobile club and have access to a circuit to really have fun. In everyday use this is a model that many will find a bit extreme.
Exceptional road holding
Good power reserve
Only in automatic gearbox
No rear seats