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2012 MINI Cooper Roadster

Overview
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2012 MINI Cooper Roadster Review

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Since its 2001 resurrection and modernization by BMW, Mini has not only thrived, it's proliferated, going from success to success with a formula of unique styling and a consistently high fun-to-drive index. With the introduction of the 2012 Mini Roadster, the Mini line now embraces six different models, and there are more in the pipeline. Although there are now Minis competing in segments never envisioned during the long lifespan of the original – the Countryman crossover comes to mind, as does the new Roadster – the product planners have managed to maintain a unique persona that's consistent across the line. The success can be viewed as a microcosm of the guiding philosophy behind Mini's parent company. The BMW influence shows to exceptional advantage.

You'll Like This Car If...

The Mini Roadster adds affordable sports car fun to what has been a 1-car segment, belonging to Mazda's MX-5 Miata. The Miata is competent and well made, but after 23 years, it lacks the sassy, distinctive persona of the Mini Roadster and the performance of the Roadster's turbocharged models.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If practicality and all-around usefulness are important to you, the Mini Roadster could become a disappointment. Like any 2-seat sports car, it's essentially a toy, with limited luggage space, limited utility in winter climates, and, obviously, limited passenger accommodations.

What's Significant About This Car?

The 2012 Mini Roadster is a first for Mini. Although there were open-top versions in the original range, and a 2+2 convertible among the current models, this is the first-ever 2-seater drophead (British for "convertible").

Driving the Cooper Roadster

Driving Impressions A convertible created by removing a metal roof inevitably suffers in terms of structural rigidity and added weight. The 2012 Mini Roadster's structural reinforcements make it about 90 pounds heavier...

than the Coupe, but there are still some chassis quivers on bumpy stretches. Nevertheless, the Roadster's steering is sports car quick and tactile, with eager responses and very little body roll, even in the basic model. Like other Minis, the Roadster achieves its athletic responses with suspension tuning that's firm in the standard model and firmer still in the S and JCW versions. Combined with standard run-flat tires – there's no spare – this yields ride quality that can be harsh on even moderately rough pavement. Acceleration is modest in the basic Mini Roadster, but the pace picks up in the S and JCW versions, sprinting to 60 in the mid- and low-6-second range, respectively. The convertible top is unlined, and over 60 mph with the top up wind noise becomes excessive.

Openometer
Mini product planners are borderline obsessive in their insistence on fun, and the Openometer is a manifestation of this corporate mission. Unique to soft-top models, it tracks the percentage of time the car operates with the top down. The higher the percentage, the more fun you're having.

Through-Loading Trunk
The Mini Roadster has an 8.5-cubic-foot trunk, 2.0 cubic feet more than the Mini Convertible. It also has a unique feature – a small square trapdoor behind the seats that allows occupants to pop odds and ends into the trunk without stopping.

2012 MINI Cooper Roadster Details
2012 MINI Cooper Roadster photo Interior

As you'd expect, the inner Mini Roadster is snug, reinforcing the sense of driver engagement that makes sports cars special. Elbow room is a bit limited, but legroom and headroom are abundant, and the bucket seats are comfortably supportive, particularly in the higher performance models. Interior materials are better than average, despite a lot of plastic, and the instrument panel maintains a uniquely Mini look with a bevy of retro toggle switches, the tachometer perched on the steering column and the center of the dash dominated by a pizza-size speedometer. The speedo also embraces an info screen and, when so equipped, the navigation system readout.

Exterior
2012 MINI Cooper Roadster photo

All current Minis are descended from the 3-door Mini Cooper hatchback-now known as the Hardtop – that made its debut in 2001. Most recently, there was the 2-seat Coupe, afflicted with an awkward-looking steel roof, and now the 2012 Mini Roadster, with a soft top that stows neatly behind the seats without intruding on cargo space. The front end is unmistakably Mini, and the profile says sports car, particularly with the top down, exposing the twin stainless-steel rollover hoops, and the rear wing deployed at the rear of the trunklid. The wing pops up at 50 mph, lending cornering stability at high speeds.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The basic Mini Roadster isn't terribly basic, and includes air conditioning, AM/FM/CD MP3-compatible audio, power mirrors and windows, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, trip computer, foglights, and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels wearing 195/55 tires. The audio package includes a 1-year satellite radio subscription. Safety features include antilock braking, stability control, front airbags and seat-mounted side airbags, windshield frame reinforcement, and a pair of fixed stainless-steel rollover hoops behind the seats.

Optional Equipment

Every Mini option list is exceptionally long and tempting, and the Roadster's array of extra-cost features – many of them custom appearance items – is consistent with the brand. Navigation is offered as a standalone feature ($1,750), or in a package ($2,500) that includes Bluetooth, USB port and iPod/iPhone connectivity. Power top operation is $750, and a wind blocker, straddling the rollover hoops, is $250. Seat heaters are $500, and leather seating choices range from $1,000 to $2,250.

Under the Hood

Like all members of the Mini collective, the Roadsters are propelled by one engine – a 1.6-liter DOHC direct injection inline 4-cylinder – offered in three states of tune. The basic engine is naturally aspirated, whereas the S and the higher performance John Cooper Works (JCW) versions are both turbocharged. The top torque rating for the S version of the engine is 192 lb.-ft. and 207 for the JCW. However, this is attainable only with extra turbo boost, and only for a few seconds. Normal peak torque is 177 lb.-ft. for the S, 192 for the JCW. The torque band is very broad for both versions of the engine, and throttle response is immediate. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, and a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic is optional on all but the JCW version.

1.6-liter inline-4
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/35

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
181 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
192 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,700 - 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/35

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,700 - 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)

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2012 MINI Cooper Roadster Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.8
Out of 10

Based on 11 Ratings for the 2012 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    9.5/10
  • Reliability
    9.7/10
    Performance
    9.5/10
  • Comfort
    9.3/10
    Styling
    9.8/10

Modern classic!

By on Sunday, September 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "About the most fun you could ever have driving!"

Cons: "Really expensive to maintain"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I can't begin to tell you how much fun this little car is to drive! Be prepared for lots of admiring stares and questions from curious passers-by because the Roadster is definitely a standout. The Roadster handles like a dream- nimble, tight and responsive and at 181 horses (on the S model) features more zip than most will need around town. Tiny though it may be this car is solid as a rock on the road, weighing as much as much bigger vehicles, thanks to the reinforcements added to the frame, so no "blowing around" on the highway! The semi-manual top is no trouble and, after a little getting used to, the toggles which control most everything else become second nature. The boot is amazingly big and the cabin is comfortable for two average-size people. On the downside, having owned the car for right at two years and a mere 8.6K miles, I have already had to replace the clutch and have learned that this is no anomaly. At about $2200 to replace (at about 5K miles!) this could add up fast. Also, at last regular maintenance, I was told that the front tires needed replacing before they were even due to be rotated. Wow. The tires these come with- run-flats, of course- do NOT have a warrantee. I will be replacing them with another brand of tire, for the record. Check owner feedback carefully before buying because there have been several such "issues" but no recalls. Overall, if the $37k+ sticker and costly maintenance don't put you off, you'll definitely smile every time you drive the Roadster."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Forget point A to B. It's the journey that counts!

By on Thursday, August 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "All you need in a fun car without the bulk"

Cons: "Paint durability against rock chip could be better"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"We've had this car for a full year and it really has been a refreshing year because of it. Two-seater is a limiting factor for many, understandably, but if it isn't or if you have more than one car the MINI roadster is just a blast to own and drive all the time. With the freedom to go and park anywhere from its small size, the trunk space makes it even more enjoyable to go on trips. And concern some may have over size and comfort really isn't an issue at all. 1 yr, 10,500 miles and it still runs like new with a peppy attitude when pushing the little "S" button. We've logged over 55% of top down and that is in a climate where winter snow and crisp cold is hard to forget. We've got so many compliments with it that it surely is enjoyable to drive something that has some character, allows you to feel more free, and put a smile on your face just driving it has practicality becomes a thing of the past."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

MIN Roadster S -2013 Convertible

By on Monday, December 02, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Style, H Kardon audio, handling, fun factor, MPG"

Cons: "Need more leg room on passenger side"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I am 6'4" and fit in the drivers side very nicely. Lots of available stretch legroom with the seat all the way back and lowered. This car is the so much fun to drive. Quality of the build is solid and the Harmon Kardon Audio package sounds great even with the top down. Winner!!!"

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

A blast to drive, I look forward to my commute

By on Thursday, August 29, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,900

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I purchased the car in Dec 2013 and I am writing this quick review Aug 29th 2013. I love this car, I've taken it on several long road trips over windy mountain passes, as well as my daily driver/commuter car and it excels in it all."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Maximum love for my Min Roadster

By on Thursday, August 15, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 750

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "peppy, fun, and economical on gas"

Cons: "no auto-up on windows"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Vey well thought out approach o the Roadster class of cars with only a few missing exceptions for a 2013 model: no auto up windows, no built in garage door opener, and the windscreen is left over from Tonka Toy days, making it very hard to see at night as it is not clear. i am looking for an aftermarket product for that. despite these shortcomings in a German-engineered car, the driving is lovely although i previously drove a quattro TT that makes all other driving pale by comparison for handling curves. Peppy, reliable, and great mileage. Trunk is roomier than i thought it would be, and the shelf actually works there. Bluetooth microphone is very good but not great on the receiving end, but i hear everyone just fine. miniapp on the iphone is very good for internet radio too, and an entire year of Sirius radio is a plus. Gas tank nozzle holder is a bit shabby, so be careful when you fill up. Tricked out price was still 30K short of replacing the TT with a new TTS, and with the difference, i can enjoy a lot of holidays. haha."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Maximum love for my Min Roadster

By on Thursday, August 15, 2013

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 750

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "peppy, fun, and economical on gas"

Cons: "no auto-up on windows"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Vey well thought out approach o the Roadster class of cars with only a few missing exceptions for a 2013 model: no auto up windows, no built in garage door opener, and the windscreen is left over from Tonka Toy days, making it very hard to see at night as it is not clear. i am looking for an aftermarket product for that. despite these shortcomings in a German-engineered car, the driving is lovely although i previously drove a quattro TT that makes all other driving pale by comparison for handling curves. Peppy, reliable, and great mileage. Trunk is roomier than i thought it would be, and the shelf actually works there. Bluetooth microphone is very good but not great on the receiving end, but i hear everyone just fine. miniapp on the iphone is very good for internet radio too, and an entire year of Sirius radio is a plus. Gas tank nozzle holder is a bit shabby, so be careful when you fill up. Tricked out price was still 30K short of replacing the TT with a new TTS, and with the difference, i can enjoy a lot of holidays. haha."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?