By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 2/6/2012
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.
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.