Honda Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

Honda Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

0-60 Times, Price, Specs & More

The 2020 Honda Civic Type R has long been Edmunds' favorite hot hatchback, but now its crown is under threat from a new challenger: the limited-edition 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP. It's the most powerful and expensive production Mini ever. There's a lot of similarity here. Both cars are either new or updated; have front-wheel drive and more than 300 horsepower; and are uncompromising in their pursuit of performance.

Mini already produces a John Cooper Works version of the Hardtop 2 Door, but the GP edition is even more extreme. Limited to just 3,000 cars sold globally, the GP boasts eccentric styling and even dispenses with the rear seats in the pursuit of ultimate performance.

The styling of the Civic Type R is scarcely less extroverted but retains the four-door, five-seat practicality of the standard Civic. Think of it as a more expensive, athletic and focused sibling to the sport-lite Civic Si. For 2020, Honda subtly updated the Type R with styling tweaks, revised suspension tuning and improved engine cooling.

Honda Civic Type R vs. Mini JCW GP — it's a battle for performance hatchback supremacy.

Jump to compare: Price | 0-60 & Top Speed | Horsepower & MPG | Transmission | Ride & Handling | Interior | Model History | The Verdict: Edmunds Says

Price Comparison: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

Mini will cite the exclusivity of the GP as justification for the lofty price tag. For those who enjoy an acronym, the Mini JCW GP's MSRP is $45,750 (including destination fees) versus the Civic Type R's MSRP of $37,950 (also with destination). As a limited edition — each GP model is individually numbered both outside and in — the Mini may retain more of its value in the long term than the Honda, but this nearly $8,000 difference is still a hefty premium to pay.

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

0-60 Times and Top Speed: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

Edmunds has a private test facility where we independently verify the performance claims of the manufacturers. We tested both the Mini and the Honda on the same day and in the same conditions.

First, the Mini. Our test car accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds at a speed of 108.5 mph. These are outstanding figures for a front-wheel-drive hatchback.

For the Civic Type R, we recorded a 0-60 mph sprint in 5.7 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.8 seconds at 103.6 mph. For straight-line speed, the Mini is the clear winner here.

In our 60-0 mph brake tests, the Mini stopped marginally more quickly than the Honda, requiring 105 feet versus 107. On the skidpad, however, the situation was reversed. The Civic generated 1.03 g of grip compared to 0.99 g of grip for the Mini. Both, though, are excellent figures.

We weren't able to verify the top speeds, but for the record Honda claims 169 mph for the Type R with the Mini hitting a claimed 165 mph.

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP

Horsepower, Specs and MPG: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

The days when 200 horsepower was deemed worthy of a hot hatchback are behind us. Both these cars generate more than 300 hp, with the Honda taking the bragging rights with 306 hp to the Mini's 301 hp. However, the Mini counters with significantly more torque — 331 lb-ft vs. 295 lb-ft.

Mini has gone to great lengths to reduce the GP's curb weight, even tossing out the rear seats. On our scales, the Mini GP was a full 223 pounds lighter than the Civic Type R, measuring 2,884 pounds vs. 3,107 pounds. This lighter load should help all-round performance.

The EPA figures for fuel consumption for both cars are decent given their performance credentials. The Type R checks in with an estimated 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway), while the GP is a bit better at 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway).

2020 Honda Civic Type R Front Exterior

2020 Honda Civic Type R Front Exterior

Transmission Comparison: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

Two previous versions of the Mini GP (see our History and Significance section below) came with manual transmissions; this new GP is automatic only. We'll admit that it's disappointing to see a brand that leans so heavily on driving excitement not offer a manual (or even a dual-clutch automatic) on its top-performing car. Apparently, it's a matter of expediency for its manufacturer — Mini says it doesn't have a manual gearbox for a transversely mounted engine that can handle all that torque.

In compensation, Mini has provided paddle shifters that allow you to choose gears sequentially. However, it's far from the most effective automatic gearbox we've tested. While it's smooth enough on the road, and makes straight-line acceleration quite easy, anyone indulging in a track day will find it slow to respond, particularly on downshifts.

The Honda's manual gearbox, by contrast, is an absolute delight and makes driving more fun. It's a mark of Honda's attention to detail that, for the 2020 model year, it introduced a slightly heavier gear knob that improves the tactile sensation of swapping cogs. It comes with rev-matching functionality — the system by which the car automatically blips the throttle to smooth out downshifts — that works great, making even the most hapless driver feel like a hero.

2020 Honda Civic Type R Shifter

2020 Honda Civic Type R Shifter

Ride and Handling Comparison: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

We'll cut to the chase: When compared with the Honda Civic Type R, the ride and handling of the John Cooper Works GP is a major disappointment. Its traditional suspension — no adaptive suspension dampers like you get with the Honda — is very firmly tuned. It's so firm that the Mini's ride can get downright brutal on bumpy roads.

A firm ride might be forgiven if the handling is superb, but it's not. The GP is blighted by torque steer (the tendency of the car to pull to left or right under hard acceleration). This makes it a challenge to drive fast, and not in a good way. Too many of our testers complained about not being able to place the car accurately on the road. In the search for ultimate performance, some of the standard Mini's fabled agility has been lost, which is a real shame.

By comparison, the Honda offers a terrific balance of everyday usability and hard-edged fun. The adaptive dampers let you choose between a setting that's firm but acceptable for daily driving and something more tailored to a smooth racetrack. It steers and puts its power down so much more effectively than the Mini that it's both more entertaining and more rewarding. Indeed, the Honda handles so well that it can embarrass many so-called sports cars.

Interior Comparison: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

The dashboard changes for the GP version of the Mini John Cooper Works are relatively subtle. You get a 3D-printed dash insert with your personal production number, a unique steering wheel and a funky digital display. Everything else is standard Mini, which is no bad thing. Although the centrally mounted infotainment system can be a bit fiddly to use, the overall quality is good and it has lots of character. The driving position is another plus point, although the GP's seats aren't nearly as supportive as the Type R's.

The Honda's front seats are some of the finest to be found in any vehicle and complement an interior that successfully blends the practicality of the standard Civic with a shot of adrenaline. It's not subtle — red seats might not be to all tastes — but it works extremely well. It's also worth remembering that the Honda is a significantly bigger car with room for four adults. The Mini is a strict two-seater. And while the area behind the seats offers plenty of space for luggage, whatever you put back there is on permanent display and there's no means of securing it.

Honda Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP Interior

Honda Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP Interior

History and Significance: Civic Type R vs. Mini John Cooper Works GP

This is the third Mini to boast the GP name. The Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP kit was launched back in 2006, followed by the Mini John Cooper Works GP of 2013. Both those models were limited to production runs of 2,000 units, a thousand less than the latest GP. The cars are supposed to represent the ultimate incarnation of that generation of Mini and are hotly anticipated by fans of the brand.

The Honda Civic Type R also has a loyal fanbase even though it's only the first generation of the car to be sold in the U.S. Globally, this is actually the fifth generation of Civic to carry the Type R badge, the first being launched in Japan back in 1997. For Honda, Type R denotes the ultimate performance version.

Edmunds Says

Objectively speaking, this comparison has a clear winner. The Honda Civic Type R is a superb all-rounder, blending real-world usability with driving dynamics that would shame some cars costing twice as much. That it's significantly less expensive than the Mini John Cooper Works GP is really an added bonus.

For everyone on our test team who drove it, the GP is a disappointment. It's a car you buy because you have to have the most extreme and most expensive version of the Mini. You don't buy it because it's a great hot hatchback because, sadly, it is not. The Type R's reign as Edmunds' favorite hot hatchback continues.

2020 Honda Civic Type R Front Exterior

2020 Honda Civic Type R Front Exterior