Pricing was announced for the Mini John Cooper Works GP earlier this week. If you’re a fan of the current Mini Cooper, then this is the car you’ve been waiting for. This special edition Cooper will be the fastest, bestest-handling Mini to date. That’s great news, because the current Mini Cooper S, with it’s 180-hp engine is by no means unathletic; it’s quick and handles pretty well too. So this hardcore version sounds like an interesting proposition, right?
Sure does, until you hear the base price, wait for it… $39,550. Yep, that’s right, a Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP, with any options and dealer markup, will set you back at least $41,000. Which could have been palatable had the Mini actually retained any of its utility, but it hasn’t. A rear tower brace now resides in place of the rear seats, all in the name of structural rigidity and weight savings.
Mini claims this has the effect of turning the Mini Cooper Works GP into a go-kart. A $40,000 go-kart. Mini’s wonderful turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder does get a power boost, but only to 218 horsepower. Not a whole lot even though the Cooper GP only weighs 2,558 lbs.
Which begs the question: why on earth would anyone buy a $40,000 Mini Cooper when there are so many new, used and even classic cars that are just as fun to drive? Most of which are more practical and significantly faster. Which is why we’re asking you what car would you pick to carve up canyons and dive bomb apexes? Here are our choices.
The latest Z hasn’t exactly been a hit with most auto journalists. Its brakes don’t exactly inspire confidence and the engine is about as smooth as New York City’s Meatpacking District’s streets. Once you get over all that (by either installing a brake upgrade…or crashing), the 370Z is a great car. Despite the engine’s roughness, it makes a great sound some of the time, and pulls hard all of the time. More importantly, the Z is rear wheel drive and Nissan fitted it with a limited slip differential straight from the factory if you select the sport package.
Ford Mustang GT
For less than $40,000 you could get a brand-spanking-new Ford Mustang GT. If you opt for the “Track Package” and the RECARO seat option you basically have a budget Boss 302 for $5,000 less than the Mini John Cooper Works GP. If you spend that money on some sticky rubber and some suspension upgrades you could have a car capable of keeping up with the Mini John Cooper Works GP (we have to give credit where it’s due) in the corners. When the straight comes though, standby- the Mustang GT’s 400- hp 377 lb ft of torque will blow the doors off the Mini. It also has rear seats so you can bring your buddies along to partake in the ass kicking.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
If you’re looking at the Mini John Cooper Works GP chances are handling is important to you, and you don’t care what you look like carving turns like Dexter Morgan at Thanksgiving dinner. If that’s the case then the Lancer Evo is a much better bet. It will run circles around a WRX STI on track never mind the Mini. 2013 is also the last year of this generation Lancer, and the chances of us ever seeing a gas powered hardcore performance Lancer Evolution are slim to none. You could even rationalize the purchase by saying it’s a sound investment.
Porsche 911 Carrera S (993)
Are some of the cars on this list a little too common for you? We’ll here’s an obscure European ride that rivals the “coolness” of the Mini John Cooper Works GP. It’s a 993 generation Porsche 911 Carrera S, and it’s arguably the coolest modern air-cooled 911. It has the voluptuous curves of the 911 Turbo with none of the weight, complicated turbo system, or expensive to maintain four-wheel drive. If I had $40k burning a hole in my pocket I’d find one of these, buy it and proceed to drive it until I ran out of gas or went to prison. Which ever comes first.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C6)
This maybe a bit of stretch but you can find a Corvette Z06 for about the same price as the Mini. There pretty evenly matched if you think about it. Both are the best handling versions of their respective platforms, neither has rear seats but offers ample cargo space as a compromise,
they both only the Corvette Z06 has 505 horsepower….This isn’t even fair anymore.
BMW M5 (e60)
This generation M5 features BMW’s 5.0 liter V10 making 500 horsepower. You’ll also be buying it used (though there are some Certified Pre-Owned cars out there still), and that means no warranty. Which is good, because that’s one less obstacle standing in between you and a fresh set of straight pipes. Just listen:
Need I say more?
A quick search on the inter-webs had us drooling over some supremely cool classic cars for sale for about as much as the Mini. They range from pro touring Camaros to an all original Jaguar E- Type that had been garaged since the 1970′s , and every kind of Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz that you can imagine. They all look great, but there was only one car that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
1970 Lotus Elan S4
So you like British cars right, that’s why you’re trading in your Mini Cooper S with a Union Jack on the roof for the Mini John Cooper Works GP right? Ok, well here’s a real British car, the Lotus Elan S4.
This particular car is currently for sale on BringaTrailer and it’s gone through an arduous six year long nut and bolt restoration. The fiberglass body was stripped, straightened and strengthened, while the engine features a new bottom end, and a new head. The suspension has been lowered, aligned and corner balanced by an SCCA certified technician, so it probably handles ok. Essentially this Lotus Elan S4 is a well sorted, authentic British classic with the engine driving the correct wheels for $5,000 less than the Mini John Cooper Works GP . Why would you ever want to be that guy?
Now that we’ve weighed in what car would you buy today for the price of a Mini John Cooper Works GP? Tell us on in the comments.
Photo credit: Flickr & Bring a Trailer