Everyone loves a sporty sticker on a car, don’t they? Just look at the latest Porsche 911 GT3 RS. After deleting the decals on the previous generation model, the Germans realised this was a bad idea, so made sure to slap some XL graphics on the new one. Normality restored.
While it may not be a 520hp Rennsport Porsche, the Mini 1499 GT (which is limited to just 1,499 examples) features some pretty neat gold vinyl too, and that’s not all.
Decked out in full John Cooper Works clothing (that means 17-inch Track Spoke alloys, a sportier front bumper, lower side skirts and figure-hugging sports seats inside) the 1499 GT looks properly purposeful.
In fact, hop in this low-slung and truly exclusive Mini and it feels like it should be one of the fastest, most focussed hot hatches in the line-up. But it’s not…
“Around town, the distinctive three-pot is in its element, allowing for swift enough progress”
While the original 1275 GT (after which the Mini 1499 GT takes its name) had some genuine sporting pedigree, the new GT-badged Mini is based on the slowest, most basic car in the Abingdon line-up: the Mini ONE. Yep, bizarre.
That means there’s a thrummy-yet-underpowered 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, pushing out 102hp. Skin and ride pudding spring to mind.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Mini ONE, but when the 1499 GT teases us with finely-tuned sports suspension, bucket seats and a John Cooper Works steering wheel, the little engine feels like a bit of a let-down.
Around town, the distinctive three-pot is in its element, allowing for swift enough progress but, out on the open road, its lack of outright grunt is laid out bare.
Thankfully, the 1499 GT is, of course, bestowed with Mini’s ‘go-kart’ handling and razor-sharp steering making it a real treat to throw around some twisting tarmac.
Combined with the sweet six-speed manual ‘box – a real treat to swap cogs on – and the 1499 GT does have the ability to put a grin on your face. It’s just a shame there’s not more power on tap, otherwise that smile would be from ear-to-ear.
“You’re still best off turning towards the full-fat John Cooper Works Hatch”
It all means that the Mini 1499 GT’s biggest selling point is its exclusivity, but the £16,990 price tag currently touted seems a bit steep for some stickers (especially as the plainer-but-pokier Mini Cooper, complete with 136hp, is just £350 more).
If you want genuinely want Mini-shaped hot hatch adventures though, you’re still best off turning towards the full-fat John Cooper Works Hatch, which genuinely thrills with fizzy performance and stupendous handling.
Model: Mini 1499 GT
Price: From £16,990
Engine: 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol
0-62mph: 10.1 seconds
Top speed: 121mph
On sale: Now (if you can find one)