Mini will beat most of its rivals to the burgeoning electric hot hatch segment by releasing a battery-powered variant of the John Cooper Works GP, according to a recent report. If the rumor is accurate, the British brand’s second series-produced electric car will also become one of the quickest models it has ever put its name on.
Enthusiast website Motoring File spotted what looks suspiciously like an electric John Cooper Works GP testing in Germany, and unnamed sources who are allegedly familiar with the company’s plans confirmed the model is currently being evaluated. None of the insiders said the model has been confirmed for production, however.
It’s too early to tell what will power the electric GP, or how closely it will be related to the Cooper SE. We’re curious to find out how Mini will offset the battery’s weight; the gasoline-powered GP (pictured) tips the scale at 2,855 pounds, while the SE weighs in at 3,153 pounds. Granted, a generous amount of instant torque can help the hatchback overcome its extra pounds, but masking it on a twisty road will require serious chassis wizardry.
If the rumor is true, we’ll learn more about Mini’s next electric model in the coming months. It might arrive in showrooms in 2022, likely priced above $50,000 and possibly as a limited-edition model. For context, the existing GP is limited to 3,000 units worldwide, and pricing starts at $45,750.
Mini made its commitment to electrification clear when it pegged its future on crossovers, the Chinese market, and electric cars. It confirmed it’s developing an electric crossover that will be about as big as the Countryman, and it stressed electrification will spread across its range in the coming years. It’s not planning on ditching gasoline- and diesel-powered engines soon, though; it wants to give customers what it calls the power of choice.
Who else is in the game?
Electrification still hasn’t reached hot hatch land, and Mini’s rumored electric GP would be one of the first cars of its kind. Volkswagen has often hinted it wants to build a spicier version of the Golf-sized ID.3 sold in Europe, but we haven’t seen the model yet; the firm is understandably allocating its resources to ramping up production of volume-oriented models, like the ID.4 crossover. Across the pond, Renault transformed the humble Zoe into a 460-horsepower, four-wheel drive superhatch in 2017, but the project fizzled before it spawned a production car.
Mini’s most serious rival may be Hyundai, which recently showed an 810-horsepower prototype vaguely shaped like a Veloster. Building a concept is relatively easy, and bringing it to production is far more difficult, but Rimac’s involvement suggests Hyundai could build something like the RM20e if it sensed there was a demand for it.