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Review: the MINI Challenge

December 31, 2014

There are only a few cars as iconic and quintessentially British as the MINI. The line was started by the British Motor Corporation in 1959 and produced for more than forty years. In 2000, a new generation of MINIs was started by BMW, who acquired the rights to the car in 1994. Over the course of the brand’s long history, there have been many different models of this British beauty – but after a partnership with racing legend John Cooper, MINI took its game to the racing track.

Today’s flagship MINI racer is the MINI challenge – and, loved by amateur and professional racers alike, the MINI Challenge serves as an affordable entry point to racing. So how does it perform? Find out in today’s new MINI Challenge review.

Original image by Tom

Original image by Tom

Design

The MINI Challenge starts its life as a MINI Cooper S. However, thanks to the lovely engineers at Excelr8 Motorsport in Suffolk, the car can be kitted out as a proper racer within 120 hours. Of course, there are plenty of changes to be implemented before a normal road car is allowed on to a racetrack. The entire interior is stripped out to make room for a safety cage, and then racing seats are added back in. Adding some racing stripes is, of course, optional – but at the Car Loan Warehouse, we think a cheeky racing stripe goes a long way.

Performance

There are also plenty of changes under the hood, though not as many as you’d expect. There is no change to the suspension, as the standard MINI Cooper S suspension is already up to racing standards – which is high praise for any road car. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, however, is not – which is why a turbo and an ECU are added for an additional 86bhp, giving the car a total of 275bhp. A new sequential six-speed gearbox has been added too, to be completely up to racing standards.

Features

And the racing additions don’t stop there – all that power needs some proper brakes. Without any ABS or servo assistance, the new brakes are one hundred percent pure racing brakes. The MINI Challenge also gets additional adjustable dampers fit for racing, and new tight bushes replace the much looser Cooper S. bushes. Last but not least, the settings on the camber, caster and ride height are adjusted to be much more responsive than you’d need on a normal road car – and with that, your new MINI Challenge is ready to compete!

Original image by Michael Gil

Original image by Michael Gil

It’s tight, responsive and powerful – everything you’d need and expect from a race car. Whether you’re an amateur racer who just wants to take the car for a spin round the track or an aspiring driver ready to hone their racing skills, the MINI Challenge is the car for the job. And with a starting price at £34,950, it’s easily the most affordable way to own your own race car.

Got a need for speed without the budget to match? The Car Loan Warehouse has got you covered. We specialise in MINI finance and we can get you behind the wheel of your very own racing car at a rate you can afford. Head over to our MINI finance page for more information or try our loan calculator for an instant quote.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.