MINI has just pulled the veils off the new John Cooper Works Buggy, and it will compete in the 2018 Dakar Rally. The rear-wheel drive vehicle is powered by a 3.0 litre turbodiesel straight-six that produces 340 PS and 800 Nm of torque, riding on a tubular steel frame with unique bodywork that’s developed closely with MINI Design.

However, the Buggy, which will be piloted by the X-raid team, doesn’t resemble anything that’s in the current MINI line-up. MINI says the overall vehicle is extremely lightweight because the body is made of Kevlar and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). During its test runs in the challenging terrains of Morocco and Hungary, the Buggy “never had to stop once due to a technical problem,” said Sven Quandt, X-raid team manager.

Running alongside the JCW Buggy is the familiar JCW Rally, which looks almost identical to last year’s model. New to the car is a lighter chassis and improved suspension which provide better travel distance. It shares the same 3.0L straight-six with the Buggy.

The JCW Rally gets a six-speed transmission sourced from Sadev, an AP Racing clutch as well as a lockable and oil-cooled front and rear differentials with a Sadev centrifugal diff. The exhaust system is from Akrapovic. As for suspension, it’s fitted with two fully-adjustable dampers by Reiger Racing Suspension, each with a maximum travel of 250 mm. Stopping power comes from a set of six-piston calipers, which clamp down on 320 mm ventilated steel discs.

MINI will field seven vehicles to the upcoming Dakar season, with three of the JCW Buggies being driven by Mikko Hirvonen, Bryce Menzies and Yazeed Al-Rajhi. The remaining four JCW Rally models will be piloted by Orlando Terranova, Jakub Przygonski, Joan “Nani” Roma and Boris Garafulic.

GALLERY: 2018 MINI John Cooper Works Buggy

GALLERY: 2018 MINI John Cooper Works Rally