Meet the Incredibly Angry, Incredibly Capable Mini John Cooper Works Dakar Buggy

The 2WD off-roader will make use of a 3.0L diesel with an output of 340 HP and 590 lb. ft. of torque.

byCaleb Jacobs|
Mini News photo

The Mini-backed X-raid team has found major success in the fabled Dakar rally, scoring four successive overall victories in the race from 2012 to 2015. Usually found in the desert muscling the best efforts from Peugeot, the German racing outfit is now looking to capitalize on previous triumphs with a new entry in the 2WD Buggy segment. This 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Racing off-roader will be just that, accompanying its traditional 4x4 stablemate at next year's event.

Spanning Nov. 6-20, the two-week race will hop from Peru and Bolivia to Argentina. World Rally Championship veteran Mikko Hirvonen will be one of the drivers in the Mini buggy's inaugural campaign alongside Bryce Menzies and Saudi Arabian pilot Yazeed Al-Rajhi. There, they will compete with the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi while its Mini John Cooper Works Rally brother will battle for the overall win in what is expected to be Peugeot's final year at Dakar.


Mini deemed the 2WD vehicle "the biggest project in the company’s history" The buggy will use the same 3.0-liter diesel as its tried and tested Dakar comrade, producing 340 horsepower and a mountainous 590 pound-feet. of torque. This healthy dose of power will help Mini stay competitive in the 2WD category, one that has been commandeered by its French rival in the last two races. Its carbon fiber and Kevlar bodywork are molded around a tubular steel frame with plenty of aerodynamic influence, promising better performance and reduced fuel stops in the 5,000-plus mile event. 

Additionally, significant weight reduction and suspension work are expected to help improve times by three seconds per kilometer in 2018.


The Mini JCW Racing dune machine has been in development since February 2017. According to team manager Sven Quandt, it has proved resilient through testing in Morocco and Hungary as it “never had to stop once due to a technical problem”. With its added speed and agility, the X-raid squad hopes that reliability will bring together the total package and better its results from this year's event. During January's running, the team failed to capture a stage win and finished in sixth position behind a dominant reign by Peugeot.