The Mini John Cooper Works GP is the fastest Mini production model ever, and a last hurrah for the current-generation hatch before it's replaced in the autumn.
Power comes from a version of the regular JCW's 1.6-litre turbo engine, which has been tweaked to produce 215bhp – a modest 7bhp increase.
However, there are more extensive changes elsewhere that are designed to improve handling and responsiveness, including bespoke suspension, tyres and brakes.
The GP also gets a large rear spoiler, decals and unusual four-spoke alloys, so there's no mistaking it for lesser models in the range.
At £28,790, it carries a hefty £6335 premium over the JCW, but production will be limited to just 2000 cars worldwide, so resale values will be strong.
What’s the 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP like to drive?
The steering is super-quick, so the GP really darts into bends. True, a Renault Megane Cup's steering provides more feel, but you can wind lock on and off with precision and place the car accurately.
That’s assuming the road is nice and smooth, though. Throw in the usual ruts and cambers you can expect to find on a typical British B-road and the front of the car starts to drag you one way then the other.
The GP also struggles to put down its power when you accelerate hard out of slow corners, whereas a Renault Megane Cup claws its way out of bends far more effectively.
The Mini’s limited traction is even more of an issue in damp conditions, because the semi-slick Kumho tyres start to scrabble for grip even under relatively gentle acceleration.
Mini claims a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds – compared with 6.5 seconds for the regular JCW – and the GP has a broad spread of power and massive mid-range torque.
The engine sounds great, too, with the exhaust popping and banging loudly when you ease off the throttle.
The GP also has a nicely controlled ride. The suspension is unsurprisingly firm, but it helps the Mini stay far more composed than other JCW models over poor road surfaces.
However, in other respects, the GP isn't the easiest hot hatch to live with; the engine is boomy even at a steady cruise and you can hear plenty of road noise from the rear of the car.
What’s the 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP like inside?
The dashboard is pure Mini hatch, which means it has a retro design and a rather cluttered and confusing layout.
However, bespoke Recaro sports seats hold you tightly in place through corners and Mini has removed the rear seats altogether to help keep the weight down – a bracing strut has been put in their place.
The good news is there's a large load area with a couple of handy cubbies in the floor, although there is a step in the middle of it and there's no load cover.
Details such as a chunkier steering wheel, GP badges and red seatbelts and dashboard stitching give the cabin a bit of a lift.
You get plenty of standard equipment, including climate control, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a leather-trimmed dashboard.
Should I buy one?
The Mini GP is a hoot to drive in the right conditions. The problem is, those conditions don’t exist very often in Britain.
For that reason, we’d point you towards a Renault Megane 265 Cup or a BMW M135i. True, neither of these cars will hold its value as well as the limited-edition Mini GP, but both are faster and more capable, especially on British roads.
What Car? says...
Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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