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, and production will be limited to just 2000 cars worldwide.
What's the 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP like to drive?
The steering is super-quick, so the GP darts into bends. True, a Renault Megane Renaultsport's steering provides more feel, but you can wind lock on and off with precision and place the car accurately.
Mini has fitted a three-stage stability control system, which lets you push the car close to its limits without the driver aids being completely switched off. Put this system in its sportiest 'GP' setting and the back end of the car gets really quite lively.
The GP can struggle to put down all of its power when you accelerate hard out of slow corners, but it still claws its way out of bends remarkably well for a front-wheel-drive car.
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 ride also impresses. The GP is unsurprisingly firm, but it stays far composed than other JCW models over poor road surfaces.
This has the obvious advantage of making the car fairly comfortable by hot hatch standards, but more importantly it helps keeps the wheels in contact with the road, so mid-corner bumps don't cause the car to skip around nervously.
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 JCW 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 an absolute hoot to drive. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's the best JCW model we've ever driven.
True, it costs the best part of £30,000, but it comes well equipped and its limited numbers mean it should hold its value better than most of its rivals.
Bigger and faster hot hatches, such as the BMW M135i and Renault Megane 265 Cup, are undoubtedly more sensible ways to spend this sort of money, but the GP has plenty of appeal all the same – particularly for those who like their thrills a little more hardcore.
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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