• Zippy handling
  • The quickest Mini
  • Unique styling
  • Poor top-up visibility
  • Harsh ride
  • Seats only two

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for Cooper Roadster in 2014

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For 2014, all Minis get the new City Pack option package. Priced at $1250, it includes: a rear audible park aid, auto-dimming mirrors, power-folding side mirrors, heated washer jets and side mirrors, passive keyless entry and ignition, and, as you might expect, an alarm system...
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Vehicle Summary

The Mini Roadster is one of two open-topped versions of the Mini. The Roadster is the droptop riff on the two-seat Mini Coupe, while the Mini Convertible is the sun-seeking sibling to the standard Mini hardtop. The Roadster, like the Coupe, has a cut-down windshield, a bulkhead behind the front seats, and a stubby little tail from which sprouts a deployable rear spoiler. Because it's a two-seater, Mini would like you to think of it as the return of the classic British roadster. In its proportions, layout, and mechanicals, it's actually nothing like those cars -- but it's still a fun-to-drive two-seat convertible, one that's priced slightly more dearly (about $400) than its four-seat counterpart.

Overview

With its lower windshield, snug passenger compartment, and proper trunk, the Roadster has a more pugnacious look than the standard Mini Convertible. The changes, though, don't materially affect the way it drives. Like other Minis, the Roadster is ultra-nimble, responding instantly to a flick of its fat-rimmed steering wheel. What Mini calls the performance suspension is standard, and it's plenty responsive -- but not very compliant. A stiffer sport suspension is available (it's standard on the high-zoot John Cooper Works version) but is probably too hardcore for most people.

The JCW's 208-hp version of the 1.6-liter turbo four is quick (0-to-60-mph in 6.3 seconds), but that's not much quicker than the 181-hp Cooper S (which scoots to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds). The base Cooper version does without a turbocharger and suffers accordingly, taking 8.7 seconds to reach 60 mph. All those times are with the standard, and very pleasant, six-speed manual transmission -- a six-speed automatic (with paddle shifters) also can be had.

Lower the Roadster's standard power top and you trigger Mini's Open Meter, which tracks your top-down driving time. The Roadster is less fun with the top up, as the low roof and lack of rear side windows make for a blinkered view out; also, the canvas roof is unlined (you can see the metal bows from inside) and does little to block road noise. The Roadster's trunk provides 8.5 cubic feet of luggage space, which is a bit more than the Mini Convertible's 6 cubic feet. Mostly, the Mini Roadster is a pocket-size style statement; this is not a car for those who dwell on practical considerations.

Key Competitors

  • Audi TT
  • Fiat 500C Abarth
  • Mazda Miata
  • Volkswagen Beetle convertible

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