When we bought this 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP from Texas dealer Trophy Motors for $13,000, it turned out to be a bit of a hot mess. Besides having multiple warnings lights on, it was clear when it arrived (after we bought it sight unseen) that it had seen a fair bit of action, but the worst offense to this car’s performance cred was the rubber on which it sat.
The Advanta HPZ-01 tires this car came with are budget-friendly tires, usually running about $60 to $75 a corner. In short, even cheaper than some of the cheapest generic brand tires I could find for a Toyota Corolla. These tires are meant to be gentle on the wallet, but when it comes to performance — especially on a track — well-designed performance tires can be one of the best areas to spend the extra money.
Paul Gerrard, pro racing driver and former Top Gear USA Stig, took the Mini out for a shakedown lap with the budget tires before we fitted a new set. He did (barely) break the 1:10 threshold with a lap time of 1:09.8, but we knew there was room for serious improvement from their.
Enter our friends at Pirelli, who sent over a set of P-Zero Nero GT performance tires to install on the Mini JCW GP. At roughly $133 per tire (depending on where you buy them), Paul was able to shave nearly two seconds off his lap time. Putting down a 1:08.24 time shows just how much premium rubber can affect your car’s handling performance, especially if you’re considering taking it out for an autocross session or on a full course.
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