Presented this past weekend in Le Castellet, France, at the annual Mini United Festival, the 2012 Mini Hardtop John Cooper Works GP promises to be the quickest, fastest and best-handling street version of the car ever created. On sale later this year, only 2,000 of these ultra-spec Mini Hardtop models will be produced for the entire world, and at least some will be headed to America.
While the automaker has yet to reveal the exact output numbers of the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine in this new hardtop, the previous generation Mini JCW GP Hardtop introduced in 2006 packed 214 horsepower and rumors out of Britain indicate this new successor will corral somewhere between 220-225 horsepower underhood. Whatever the upgrade, the automaker says it was enough to help the new GP iteration snap off an 8 minute 23 second lap around the fabled 12.9-mile Nordschleife circuit at the Nurburgring. About 19 seconds quicker than the earlier Cooper S hardtop with John Cooper Works GP Package, that feat makes this Gen II GP variant Mini's new King of the 'Ring.
To help its performance cause, this latest John Cooper Works GP model also features a fully adjustable race-spec suspension, competition brakes and super-sticky street-legal racing tires on special lightweight alloy wheels. The exterior matches distinctive exterior cosmetics with functional enhancements that include larger front/rear aprons, contoured side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler plus a new rear diffuser that optimizes airflow around the underbody.
Although it did not release any photos of the interior, Mini has confirmed that the John Cooper Works GP is a two seater, and that its cabin trimout "contributes to the car's inspirational racing feeling." No word yet on when we'll get to see exactly what that description really means. And like power and torque specifics, we'll also have to wait a bit to find out how many John Cooper Works GP models we'll see in the U.S. or what price each will command. However, with a baseline 2012 Mini Hardtop with John Cooper Works Package starting at $30,600, it's likely this even hotter and scarcer model will open somewhere on the far side of $35K.