MINI quietly parked the hottest Cooper ever in front of its booth here in Frankfurt, letting everyone just discover it on their own. It's pretty hard to miss, though. As we told you when the info dropped last week, this new John Cooper Works CHALLENGE is a race-ready hatch with some serious changes to the engine and suspension that add up to a weekend track car for all intents and purposes. Things like new pistons, a reworked turbocharger, new intake and exhaust plumbing, a reprogrammed engine management system, race suspension, and new four-piston brakes hidden behind Dunlop-shod Borbet wheels are just some of the upgrades to make the Cooper race ready.
The CHALLENGE also features a John Cooper Works aero kit with an adjustable rear spoiler, a rear diffuser, and a new front spoiler. The full roll cage inside is a pretty big tip-off that this car means business. It's welded into the car, right behind the upgraded Recaro buckets with six-point harnesses and HANS device. Like we said, it's basically a track car pre-made for racing teams participating in the regional MINI Challenge Series races. You don't HAVE to participate in the series to buy one, so just pony up the €49,900 including VAT and wait until March when the cars will be delivered. If you're a privateer you'll have to wait until next June.
Follow the jump for MINI's full press release.
Race is on for new MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE
MINI performance is to be taken to new levels with the new MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE, a MINI Cooper S built specifically for track use and ready to race. Set for its first public appearance at the forthcoming IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, deliveries of the new car will take place from spring 2008.
Key characteristics of the new car include a higher top speed, increased torque, faster acceleration and optimised traction. Performance figures are detailed in the attached document.
Power enhancements are at the core of the striking CHALLENGE car's modifications. As well as a re-developed twin-scroll turbocharger, the standard MINI Cooper S engine receives modified pistons, air filter, air intake passage, catalytic converter, exhaust components, electronic sensors and engine management system.
Numerous chassis and suspension tweaks add to what is a finely-tuned racing package. The new suspension system features adjustable damper units from KW Automotive, designed specifically for motorsport. A six-speed manual gearbox transmits power to 17" front wheels made by Borbet and shod with exclusive new racing tyres manufactured by Dunlop.
Body revisions based on the John Cooper Works Aerodynamic Kit, currently available from all MINI dealers, are key features of the CHALLENGE car's set-up. To generate increased downforce at higher speeds, CHALLENGE car owners can expect a new adjustable rear spoiler, rear diffuser and performance front spoiler. The new braking system performs exceptionally. Large four-piston calipers mean the car can go from 62 – 0mph in just 3.1 seconds. A race-specific ABS configuration and an air-pressure elevating system complete the product modifications, which together equate to a vehicle 30kg lighter than the previous CHALLENGE car.
Safety measures perfect the array of MINI CHALLENGE car features. A roll cage welded firmly to the body of the car houses RECARO bucket seats combined with a six-point safety belt, along with the HANS (Head And Neck Support) system used in Formula 1 cars.
Although the car is designed for race participation, private owners may find owning a MINI CHALLENGE car a compelling prospect. However, the car will not be licensed for public roads and as such is expected to maintain its appeal among racing enthusiasts.
The MINI Challenge race series is fast gaining presence and popularity around the world. Since 2004, Challenge races have been staged in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and New Zealand. In 2008, MINI Australia will also hold a Challenge competition.
Race teams will receive the first MINI CHALLENGE cars from March 2008. Private customers not competing in the MINI Challenge series can expect deliveries of cars from June 2008. An order form for the car can be downloaded from 11 September 2007 at www.MINI.com/challenge-car and the expected price is €49,900 inc. VAT.