When I last drove the new MINI JCW GP, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably a riot on track but isn’t actually all that good on the road. It’s a supremely capable little car but it lacks the sort of fizz that’s required to make a great road car. On track, though, its incredible capability should actually make it quite fun. As evidenced by this new video from Motor Trend.
In this new video, MT’s own hot shoe Randy Pobst takes the MINI JCW GP out for a few laps of Laguna Seca. There isn’t a more demanding circuit in America, so if there’s a place that can really test the GP’s track capabilities, it’s Laguna.
Powering the MINI JCW GP is a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 302 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. All of that power is routed through an eight-speed auto to just the front wheels. A mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential sits at the front axle to mitigate understeer and keep the GP as neutral as possible. It’s also been lightened, stiffened and given better aerodynamics. So has it all be enough of a difference to make the GP a proper track weapon?
According to Pobst, yes actually. On the track, all of the GP’s power and handling prowess really shine, allowing it to be pushed harder and harder into corners. Pobst even goes flat through turn eight and seems really impressed by its grip. For a front-wheel drive car, the GP is a really good track car.
This makes sense, as it feels like a track car from the moment you set off. It’s stiff, sharp and incredibly planted. While it’s lacking as a road car, where feel and engagement are more important, its track capabilities are just too great for a racing driver to ignore on the track.