Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
Lap Time: 3:03.8
Class: LL2 | Base: $45,750 | As Tested: $45,750
Power and Weight: 301 hp • 2888 lb • 9.6 lb/hp
Tires: Hankook Ventus S1 Evo Z, 225/35R-18 87Y ★
With its front tires furiously trying to hook up, the angriest Mini pulls onto the front straight 0.9 second behind Lightning Lap’s front-drive champ, the Honda Civic Type R. But a mere 14.3 seconds later, the JCW GP closes the gap and noses ahead of the Type R by a tenth, thus snatching the front-drive title.
We knew that the GP’s 301 horsepower—32 percent more than the standard JCW model offers—was going to be a big part of the Mini’s lap, but it turned out to be the deciding factor in its success. Without its ability to dramatically reel in the Honda on the Grand Course’s two long straights, the GP wouldn’t have had a chance against the 306-hp Type R.
Lower and stiffer than the JCW, the 3000-unit GP has personality, but it isn’t one that’s inviting or forgiving on track. Push ever so slightly too hard on the accelerator and the surge of boost vaults the Mini off track in a mob of locked-diff wheelspin and understeer. The dartiness extends elsewhere, too, such as the yanks through the steering wheel that accompany wide-open-throttle upshifts. While those shenanigans might be amusing on the street, they’re not what you want when you’re trying to position the GP for the delicate weave through the uphill esses at speeds greater than 125 mph. Go easy on the curbs, too, as the suspension becomes unsettled enough to awaken stability control even in its “off” setting.
The conventional eight-speed automatic is a letdown that can occasionally find itself in the wrong gear on track. Shifting for ourselves isn’t much better and doesn’t improve times. A manual would make the GP more involving, and a good dual-clutch would make it quicker.
But it doesn’t matter that it can’t corner as well as the Type R or that the seats lack side bolstering or that those goofy squared-off wheel-arch extensions are made of carbon-fiber scraps from the BMW i3 and i8 or that the Type R is more satisfying and refined on track. The story here is about thrust. The GP has just enough to put it right at the top of the all-time front-drive leaderboard.
Back to Lightning Lap 2021
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io