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This is a nameplate that normally signals the end of a generation of a given BMW MINI's life, and also gets the most intense of MINI fans into a froth of excitement. When the original MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit (a clunky full name, we grant you) launched in 2006, it was limited to just 2,000 units, had 218hp from its 1.6-litre, supercharged engine and was missing its back seats. It was all about hardcore, focused driving fun and the distinctive grey paint, body-numbering, four-spoke alloys and large roof spoiler marked it out as something special. It heralded the shift from the 'R50' MINI Mk1 to the 'R56' MINI Mk2, and in late 2012 the R56 got its own special send-off as the GP formula was recreated. It was still 218hp but this time from a turbocharged 1.6; yet the rest of the car was familiar, with the same exterior looks, the same interior treatment and the same run of 2,000 units. And then the R56 was replaced by the current 'F56', and thus the GP2 closed the book on the second generation of MINI.
So now we've got the GP3. But as even the Cooper S now boasts 192hp and the JCW variants punch 231hp through the front wheels, the GP3 needs to be special. And it is. Launching in 2020, MINI has confirmed that the GP2 will use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 'more than 300hp'. That almost inevitably leads us to think it'll be the 2.0-litre unit already confirmed for the BMW X2 M35i, which runs at a 306hp/450Nm state of tune. This would be an obvious choice, as the X2 sits on the same floorpan as the MINI Mk3.
A 306hp MINI, eh? Pretty spicy. And that output figure, naturally, makes the GP3 comfortably the fastest and most powerful production MINI yet, with just 3,000 units to be made available for sale worldwide. Expect it to be grey, to wear its production-run number somewhere on the bodywork, to have a big rear spoiler and no rear seats, and to be as chuffin' quick as all these on-paper stats suggest. MINI has already confirmed that the John Cooper Works GP is entering serial production development by going 'whole-vehicle testing on the race track' in the coming months. The GP3 (this is fanboy shorthand for John Cooper Works GP, type three, by the way) will have its own suspension set-up to handle the power and a properly aerodynamic bodykit. The last MINI GP managed an 8m 23sec lap of the Nordschleife; no doubt that the GP3 will get well below that, possibly even cracking the eight-minute barrier...
The GP1 and GP2 models of MINI are already collectors' items and the GP3 will surely go the same way. If you want an idea of how it will look, check out the MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept that was shown at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show for full details.