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Car Of The Week – MINI GP Gen 1

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New MINI Show at Aintree
This is our Car of The Week because we saw this car at New MINI Day back in July and it fuelled a dream then.
Day 164/365 New MINI Day
We would love a GP. When we bought our Checkmate back in 05 we should have waited for a GP but we were too impatient and seeing this one again ( Owned by a MINI friend of ours – John Boy) it refuelled that fantasy again. On the second hand market £13k will get you into one and what a pocket rocket of fun they are!

2006 MINI GP specifications: (with John Cooper Works GP Kit)

Price: £22,000 on-the-road (When new)

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Top speed: 149mph

Combined economy: 32.8mpg

Emissions: 207g/km

Kerb weight: 1120kg

Here is a jolly decent assessment of the GP from Dave Jenkins on Car Enthusiast

The engineers at John Cooper Garages were given much more freedom in the GP’s specification and it shows. It is a focused car, more so even than the fairly hard core S Works version we enjoyed a while ago. The Works GP, identified by the unique addenda listed above, the red door mirrors, discreet badging and large serial number on the driver’s side of the roof, is an altogether more serious car.

Weight has been aggressively pared from the GP; 50kg to be exact, most obviously in the deletion of the rear seats, though some commented that this was actually not much of a penalty in terms of practicality… The air conditioning is also an option. Think BMW CSL type treatment. Underneath, the chassis has been heavily breathed upon; where those rear seats used to lay a thick alloy strut brace spans the gap between the two rear suspension turrets. The special design alloys reduce unsprung weight to further enhance the driving characteristics.#p##02#As befits the GP moniker the car benefits from a revised engine management specification to wring yet more power out of the humble 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Blown by the neat little supercharger unit, it now produces 136bhp per litre, for a total of 218bhp at 7100rpm and 184lb ft of torque. It’s a gutsy performer with a strong mid-range and a frenetic top-end that pushes the MINI to sixty in just over 6.5 seconds and on to a heady maximum of 149mph.

Keeping the performance in check are 16-inch vented discs at the front, actuated via a nicely-weighted brake pedal with ample feel to apply exactly the amount of force needed. The six-speed gearbox features perfectly-spaced ratios, but the shift quality is a little notchy. The upgraded interior of the GP boasts some lovely looking heated leather Recaro seats, but unfortunately they didn’t feel as comfortable as those in the lesser cars. We also found them lacking in terms of range of adjustment such that, in tandem with the lack of adjustment of the steering wheel, left us with a less than perfect driving position. This doesn’t mar the fun though; it just takes a little sparkle off what is a gleaming dynamic package.

On the road the steering is missing an ounce of feel, but is direct and well weighted. The limited slip differential (LSD) does a fine job of deploying the power in a fuss-free and unobtrusive way. Torque steer is evident in the wet, but only under heavy throttle applications. For the most part the GP goes where you point it. The chassis boasts oodles of mechanical grip and the latest suspension modifications give it fine body control. On some bumpy surfaces it proved to be just a little too stiff, but in the majority of circumstances it works well.

Cornering is flat and fast with the LSD allowing for fine adjustment of line via throttle inputs. It is a real hoot to drive fast and rewards commitment to the cause. Thrown around, or coaxed with some finesse, the chassis rewards. It’s a great car to drive offering a huge giggle factor.

Other than the seats and some badging the interior is much akin to that of the other Cooper S models. This means it is a perfect blend of retro cool with modern features. The air conditioning is a no-cost option, one which we’d leave in place, but the rest would be familiar to a MINI owner. Of course the absence of the rear seats makes this a pure two-seater, but the rear seats of the outgoing MINI aren’t the most generous and the load space left behind is actually much more usable than the boot of the standard car.#p##05#At the end of the day, the GP is a fitting swansong for the MINI. The GP is a very fine hatch, but at £22k it should be. In isolation it’s hard to argue that the GP is £5,000 better than a Ford Focus ST, but in this context, as a car for fans and enthusiasts, it evidently is. All the cars have found homes. The fact that these cars are all sold makes our opinion somewhat worthless, but look at this as a second-hand car review and things become more relevant. This in itself is a double-edged sword; although these cars will become available on the market in time, all signs are of rock solid residuals, with some early cars commanding premiums at the moment. For those fans eager to indulge, the wait will be worth it. The MINI is dead, long live the MINI!

This review was 2006 now the cars  are a bit more affordable at between 13 and 15K

Author: ibeastie

Interested in Photography, Watches, Style and Cars

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