2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP (car review)

IMAGINE a car that drives like a street legal go kart on steroids, and looks like a pocket rocket racer. That vision in your head should look exactly like the wickedly grin-inducing 2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP.

Unofficially known as the GP3 (it’s the third generation of the MINI GP), this version of the JCW magic machine is the fastest ever. It’s also a two-seater, so not at all family friendly. That leaves room to stack some track rubber in the 612-litre boot, so it’s win-win.

Stripped of weight and clutter, the latest version of the GP is powered by a 2.0-litre four cylinder TwinPower turbo engine from the BMW stable, which has been paired with an 8-speed sports automatic transmission.

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The combination delivers 225kW of power and 450Nm of torque in a package that works exceptionally well on the road. It’s raw and dirty, just the way we like it, and the angry MINI is capable of sprinting to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds.

Thanks to its 1,255kg kerb weight, it has exceptional power to weight (5.6kg/kW), is supremely agile (particularly in corners at speed), and, like we said, very much like a go kart on steroids.

A mechanical front limited slip diff and a model-specific suspension tune means spirited driving in this front-wheel drive hot hatch will leave you giggling like a schoolgirl.

Some may be irked by the fact there’s no manual transmission, but the auto is good (if not a little slow on the downshift), and the 3D printed paddle shifters make it fun enough to self drive. GP mode unleashes some of the traction control restrictions as well.

There are some downsides to its built-for-speed purpose though, including being quite noisy inside. It comes with just 40-litres of fuel capacity too, meaning your destined to be best friends with your local fuel outlet. Real world fuel economy sits at 10.0-litres/100km.

You’ll also find plenty of torque steer off the line, and because it is in essence, and at its beating heart, a track car with licence plates, the suspension is ultra firm. On the outside you’ll find Chilli Red accents on its exclusive grille.

That colour turns up on brake callipers, inside the monolithic rear wing and in the form of a brace bar that replaces the rear seats. Forged 18-inch alloy wheels and carbon fibre wheel spats complete what has to be the most aggressive looking hatch on the market.

It comes in but one colour – Racing Grey Metallic – with Chilli Red highlights (as you might have guessed). Some very attractive centre mounted 90mm exhaust tips complete what is a truly unique looking package.

And while a few things have been dumped from the interior (like a head-up display and reversing camera), the MINI John Cooper Works GP features wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging and pretty damn comfortable sports bucket seats.

Those seats are even heated, which is a nice touch. There’s no spare (again to save weight), but it does come with a repair kit. Hit something hard enough and you’re likely to blow out the ultra low profile sticky rubber, and need a tow truck.

The standard circular MINI infotainment system can be found here too, with the company’s connected navigation plus platform running within. That means you’ll get real time traffic information, and DAB+ digital radio.

The sound system is beefy (assuming you’re not listening to the car exhaust), and there’s automatic air conditioning. The door pockets are water bottle good, and there’s a decent glove box, two cup holders, an anthracite roof lining and velour GP floor mats.

It’s priced at $63,900 plus on-roads, which is pretty affordable. For power and performance, it eclipses rivals like Toyota’s GR Yaris, the Volkswagen Polo GTi and say the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy. It comes with a 3-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

We do have one piece of bad news though. If you’re reading this right now and you aren’t one of the 67 people in Australia who already ordered a 2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP, then you aren’t going to get one, because they’re sold out.

The upside is, if they come onto the market as a second hand car, you’ll know everything you need to know about them thanks to this review. They are the ultimate collector’s item for lovers of the MINI, and as impractical as they are, we’d own one in a literal heartbeat.

Our test vehicle was provided by MINI Australia. To find out more about the 2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP, contact your local MINI dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Value for money


Pros - crazy level styling; exceptional power delivery; ultra-limited edition.
Cons - torque steer; no manual transmission; unavailability.
Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> crazy level styling; exceptional power delivery; ultra-limited edition.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> torque steer; no manual transmission; unavailability.2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP (car review)