Put a Mini Cooper in front of just about anyone, and they’ll be able to successfully identify it. As one of the most recognisable cars ever – originally for its unbelievably small form factor – it lives on today as a shadow of its former self. As such, Motorsport Magazine’s latest video showcases an acceleration test featuring the latest John Cooper Works Mini GP.

While many purists will abhor the crass amount of power – 301 bhp to be exact – coming from the vehicle’s BMW-sourced turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, we’d be remiss not to mention that the first John Cooper Works upgrade kit was power focused. Semantics aside, the added grunt can propel the hot-hatch to 62 miles per hour in just over five seconds and all the way up to 149 mph in just under 24 seconds. That’s all well and good, but there’s so much more to the JCW name than meets the eye. 

Gallery: 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP First Drive

To the uninitiated, Mr. Cooper is a racing legend who went on to build cars that would win championships in Formula 1 driven by the likes of Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, and Bruce McLaren. After making his mark in the world of open-wheel competition, he took on the challenge of making the BMC Mini suitable for racing. 

Spoiler alert: the small hatchback was a brilliant springboard for a lightweight racing car. Initially built to go rally racing, the first variant featured a stroked out engine, close-ratio gearbox, and front disc brakes – only 1,000 were made. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to blitz the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s. Even circuit racing legends like James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Jackie Stewart began their careers behind the wheel of a Mini. And we think that says it all.

Sure, we can’t be certain what John Cooper himself would think of the latest model, but it’s clearly one of the most capable front-wheel-drive hot-hatchbacks on sale today. Love it or hate it, the latest variant definitely keeps some of the racing DNA from its predecessors.