Mini UK has begun 2013 by unveiling the updated performance-oriented John Cooper Works range which was announced last year – the Mini John Cooper Works GP and John Cooper Works Countryman.

Key to the improvements is an enhanced version of the 1.6-litre four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine, which has been optimised for the different models in the range.

In the John Cooper Works variants of the MINI Hatch, MINI Clubman, MINI Convertible, MINI Coupe and MINI Roadster the new engine has the same levels of output and torque as its predecessor – 211 hp output at 6,000 rpm and 260Nm of torque (280Nm with overboost) between 1,850 and 5,600 rpm – but offers increased responsiveness, lower fuel consumption and cleaner emissions. The upgrades also include a broader use of MINIMALISM environmental technologies such Brake Energy Regeneration and Auto Start/Stop. See table below for full performance data.

The new engine offers a six-speed manual transmission for the first time in the John Cooper Works range. Customers have the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, with manual override on the gear selected or steering wheel paddles. And with the arrival of the MINI JCW Countryman – and a mid-March launch for the JCW Paceman – it means a performance flagship for every model in the line-up.

MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

The brand’s newest performance model is the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. On sale now, it’s also the first to come with MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive. The advanced traction system means power can switch automatically between the front and rear axles via an electromagnetic clutch as the road surface dictates, maximising grip at all times.

The 1.6-litre 218 hp engine has peak torque of 280 Nm (300Nm with overboost), making it the most powerful drivetrain in the MINI model range.

The four-door, five-seater rides 10mm lower to the ground than the standard MINI Countryman and comes with an aerodynamic body kit, red brake callipers and extra-lightweight 18-inch Twin Spoke light-alloy wheels. Exclusive 19-inch wheels are available as an option. It’s equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automatic gearbox with Steptronic function and steering wheel shift paddles is also available. The car will hit 62mph in 7.0 seconds, yet is still practical family transport, with 1,170 litres of luggage space behind a large hatchback boot.

Inside, the special John Cooper Works cockpit design includes sports seats, sports steering wheel, Piano Black interior detailing and an anthracite-coloured roof liner. MINI’s innovative Centre Rail storage and attachment system is part of standard specification, and the rear can be specified with either a bench for three passengers or two individual seats at no extra cost. The MINI John Cooper Works Countryman is built alongside the rest of the Countryman range in Graz, Austria. It costs £28,595.

MINI John Cooper Works GP

Taking MINI to the highest level of performance is a new version of the critically acclaimed MINI John Cooper Works GP. A road car using race-developed technology, this two-seater is the fastest production model the company has ever built and will be limited to just 2,000 examples worldwide.

Packed with JCW motorsport features and without a rear bench seat, the hot hatch boasts outstanding performance to complement its distinctive looks. The engine has been reworked to develop 218 hp, pushing the car from 0-62 mph in just 6.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 150 mph. Other modifications include adjustable coilover suspension, a new sports brake system, a more aerodynamic body kit and unique alloy wheels with performance tyres.

Final sign-off for the GP was on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany, where it clocked a lap time of just 8 mins 23 secs – an impressive 18 seconds quicker than its predecessor’s best. Exceptional attention to detail has resulted in a car with superb handling, exceptional grip and outstanding driving enjoyment. Even with such a performance pedigree, combined fuel economy is 39.8 mpg with CO2 emissions of 165 g/km.

The body is finished in an exclusive Thunder Grey metallic paint, with a vibrant red finish around the air scoop on the bonnet, door mirror caps and front air intakes. Inside, the two Recaro sports seats feature special GP stitching. It’s a fine tribute to MINI’s racing heritage which dates back more than 50 years.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP costs £28,790 OTR.

MINI John Cooper Works models – key performance data

Model0-62mph (secs)Top speed (mph)Combined fuel economy (mpg)CO2 (g/km)
MINI JCW Hatch6.5 (6.7)148 (147)42.8 (39.8)153 (165)
MINI JCW Clubman6.8 (7.0)148 (147)42.2 (39.2)155 (167)
MINI JCW Convertible6.9 (7.0)146 (145)41.5 (38.7)157 (169)
MINI JCW Coupe6.4 (6.6)144 (148)42.8 (39.8)153 (165)
MINI JCW Roadster6.5 (6.7)147 (146)41.5 (38.7)157 (169)
MINI JCW Countryman7.0 (7.0)140 (139)38.2 (35.8)172 (184)
MINI JCW GP6.315039.8165

(Figures in brackets are for automatic models)