Funny that the first generation R53 Mini now genuinely has a hint of being, well, mini – at least compared with the bloated F56 version now on sale. Inside and out, the new car looks fussier and with an even more tenuous grip on the heritage leanings that made the R53 such a hit.
Inspiration for tyre-kicking Minis stems from a bit of car swapping with a colleague that has ended with me in his 2012 JCW GP2 – the fruitiest version of the second-generation R56. This reprised the car of the same name from the original R53 generation, first launched in 2006. Both cars share a similar spirit, given they offer track focused adjustable suspension, a big wing, grey paint, a 'strut brace' where the rear seats were, the biggest power output of their respective ranges and a limited production run of just 2,000 cars apiece. Both also manage the tricky job of making four-spoke alloy wheels look cool, a feat unmatched by any other car of recent times as far as I can recall.
Anyway, much as I like this GP2, as soon as I got in from driving it I was straight into the classifieds looking for where the original ones are at. Because, to me, these are just so much cooler. The GP2 is a riot. But it totally rips off the original. And, yes, the irony is not lost that 'modern Mini' naysayers would say that about the whole genre.