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2023 March
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Car and Driver: Challenge Accepted: Limited-Production Mini JCW Challenge Debuts in Goodwood


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Color us grey, because the Mini John Cooper Works Challenge Hardtop will not be coming to our shores.


Debuting at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, the JCW Challenge is a U.K.-only model that will be limited to no more than 100 units. Sticking with the standard JCW Hardtop’s 228-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four and only available with a six-speed manual transmission, the crew of Mini engineers responsible for developing the JCW Challenge instead chose to focus on bettering the pint-sized hatchback’s handling.




As a result, the standard JCW’s go-kart-like responses are said to be even go-kartier, in part thanks to the Challenge’s coil-over springs. Supplied by Nitron, the suspension can be adjusted for jounce and rebound, as well as ride height. Meanwhile, camber-adjustment plates on the front axle give JCW Challenge owners the opportunity to better prepare their limited-edition Mini for track driving. And if the suspension components aren’t making you wish the JCW Challenge would make its way to the states, then the car’s Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential, which replaces the JCW’s standard electronic LSD, certainly will.




In order to ensure the JCW Challenge is able to make use of its more capable suspension and LSD, Mini fit it with a set of sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires wrapped around trim-exclusive 17-inch wheels. Mini claims the whole wheel/tire combo saves 5.5 pounds of unsprung weight per corner. Assisting in bringing the JCW Challenge to a stop are a pair of big 13-inch front brakes with four piston calipers developed by Brembo. Other parts included on the JCW Challenge from the Mini JCW Pro Accessories line include the car’s body kit and exhaust—both of which are currently not listed on the U.S. JCW Pro Accessories store site.


Not surprisingly, the JCW Challenge’s additional performance comes at a cost. Retailing for more than $45,000 at current exchange rates, if the price were to port over unchanged, the JCW Challenge would be almost $15,000 more than a base U.S.-spec Mini JCW Hardtop. On second thought, maybe Mini knows what it’s doing regarding the car’s markets.




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