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MINI unveils race-inspired JCW Challenge

MINI has revealed a limited edition John Cooper Works (JCW) 'Challenge' model, specifically developed for maximum track ability as well as on-road driving.

Based on the top performance MINI, the John Cooper Works Hatch, the Challenge takes more than just inspiration from the current Challenge-specification racing car. Built in partnership with key suppliers for the racing car, MINI looked at the best way to create a genuinely credible trackday machine.

Limited to a maximum of 100 units, the UK only MINI JCW Challenge features a unique colour combination and graphics, Genuine MINI JCW Pro Accessories, and is available in one fixed specification only.

MINI says a small group of employees had a dream to create a MINI that was specifically designed and developed to excel on a racing circuit, while maintaining perfectly useable manners on the public road. They collected their ideas outside of work time. Extensive testing was then carried out on a range of circuits throughout the UK, with considerable road mileage accrued as the specification and settings of the car were fine-tuned.

The Challenge model is powered by a 2-litre, four-cylinder engine featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, model-specific design of the pistons, turbocharger and exhaust release for 231hp and 320nm of torque. This enables a 0-62mph time of 6.3-seconds, with a top speed of 153mph. When fitted with the only option, six-speed manual gearbox, the Challenge returns 42.2mpg, with C02 emissions of 155g/km.

Bespoke body details include enlarged air intakes at the front for increased cooling, uniquely contoured wheel arch extensions and a rear spoiler. Inside, John Cooper Works sports seats and a sports steering wheel creates the ‘perfect environment for driving enjoyment’.

UK-based suspension supplier Nitron has provided coilover spring and damper units based on its NTR R1 system. These are adjustable for bump and rebound, as well as for overall ride height. Camber adjustment plates on the front axle allow for an increase in negative camber, with the new model possessing two degrees of negative camber on both the front and rear axle. The special JCW Challenge is supplied with recommended settings for both road and track driving, the damper units offering adjustment through numerous ‘clicks’, but owners can choose to experiment with their own settings to tune the car precisely to their own tastes.

A Quaife automatic torque biasing (ATB) limited slip differential is fitted in place of the standard car’s open item. This proven component offers a 'seamless operation' without any abrupt lock up, and assists braking performance as well as transferring power away from a spinning front wheel during acceleration.

The super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyre was chosen for the special edition. Retaining the 17” wheel size of the standard John Cooper Works Hatch, the alloys are also specifically chosen for ultimate performance - the Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 rims save 1.5kg of unsprung mass per corner. Combined with the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, this weight advantage further increases to 2.5kg per corner. Stopping power comes from grooved and part-drilled 330mm front discs with four-pot Brembo-developed calipers.

The JCW Pro Aerokit, which features lower front splitters, rear spoiler add-ons for the already large roof spoiler, rear diffuser and rear splitters for additional aerodynamic performance, enhances the already distinctive, aggressive exterior styling. The carbon fibre air intake further enhances the look of this new model, as do the Carbon Fibre Mirror Covers.

A JCW Pro exhaust with carbon fibre tailpipe finishers not only maximises the flow of spent gases, but also add a racy tone. It can be controlled via a Bluetooth link, offering a choice of Sport and Track sound levels.

Every John Cooper Works Challenge is painted in White Silver, can be readily identifiable by a bespoke graphics package, and has the 17” alloy wheels finished in black. Black roof and mirror caps complete this unique style.

Inside, the Dinamica/cloth interior combination is also finished in Carbon Black. The passenger side facia of each car bears its unique build number in the series. Standard spec includes Piano Black interior trim, rear Park Distance Control, Rain Sensor with Auto headlight activation and Adaptive LED headlights. No amendments to the standard specification are possible, and the OTR price is £32,000.

The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge will be unveiled to the public for the first time at Goodwood Festival of Speed, 23rd to 26th June, and is available to order at MINI retailers across the UK now.