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2013 MINI Cooper Roadster

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2013 MINI Cooper Roadster Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/14/2012


The 2013 Cooper Roadster takes Mini's trademark brand of British automotive minimalism to a new level. Now in its second year of production and part of Mini's strategy to expand its lineup, the Roadster is a tiny 2-passenger ragtop that emphasizes fun over practicality. The Mini Roadster is available in three trims with progressively mightier engines, of which the John Cooper Works edition ranks highest. Mini Roadsters are zippy, fuel-efficient, immensely nimble vehicles that can also perform surprisingly well on the open highway. But with a base price of $26,250, this small car's big joys don't come cheap. As with vehicles from Mini's parent company, BMW, the Cooper Roadster has impressive fit and finish, and its predicted resale value is strong.

You'll Like This Car If...

The Mini Cooper Roadster has managed to capture the sassy, built-for-fun nature of the Mini Cooper Convertible and condensed it even further. Though it's front-wheel drive, the Roadster is a an ace in the corners.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Roadster is strictly a 2-person affair, and cabin storage room is accordingly miniature. With prices approaching and exceeding $30,000, higher-trim versions can induce sticker shock.

What's New for 2013

As with all other 2013 Mini models, Bluetooth wireless connectivity is now standard on the Roadster, replacing Sirius satellite radio, which becomes an option. A semi-automatic roof and wind deflector are now standard on all Roadsters. John Cooper Works editions get improved fuel economy and the option of an automatic transmission.

Driving It Driving Impressions

Mini has done a laudable job of adding structural rigidity to compensate for removing the roof in the Roadster. But doing that has made it heavier than the Coupe, and some chassis quiver remains on bumpy roads. On open highways, the Roadster is surprisingly composed. We drove one mostly top-down from New Mexico to California, and were impressed at how solid this car feels on freeways. In twisty mountain passes, the Roadster truly excels with its quick steering. Those willing to do the extra work of shifting for themselves will be treated to an excellent manual transmission that also helps lower the car's acceleration time. In that respect, all but base Roadsters with an automatic transmission feel quick to 60 mph. Hitting that mark in the base auto model takes 10 seconds, but a manual transmission shaves more than a second off. Roadster S and John Cooper Works models get there in the 6-second range.

Favorite Features

6-SPEED GETRAG MANUAL TRANSMISSION
Mini says more than 30 percent of its models are ordered with a manual transmission, and we can see why: They have a splendid one. Short on throws, long on enjoyment, a manual just makes sense in a Mini.

OPENOMETER
Ever wonder just how much fun you're having in the sun? You'll always know with Mini's tongue-in-cheek Openometer feature, which tracks just how much time you've spent properly motoring in your Roadster – that is, with the top down.

Vehicle Details Interior   photo

In a word, the 2013 Mini Cooper Roadster's 2-passenger interior is snug. Elbow room is limited, but legroom and headroom are abundant (the latter, of course, unlimited with the top down). The bucket seats are comfortable and supportive. Despite a lot of plastic, interior materials are better than average. Like other Minis, the Roadster is full of idiosyncrasies in its controls, which can be cute at first but frustrating over time, i.e. the tiny toggles used to open the windows. With the top up, rear blind spots are surprisingly large for a car little bigger than a shoe. The Roadster's 8.5-cubic-foot trunk is larger than expected, and offers a trapdoor behind the seats that allows you to stow odds and ends without stopping.

Exterior   photo

Like the rest of Mini's lineup, the Cooper Roadster is descended from the original Hardtop hatchback that debuted over a decade ago. At 147 inches, the Roadster is actually a smidge longer than the Hardtop. But make no mistake: It's still small. The Roadster's ride and handling benefit from a relatively long wheelbase, with the front and rear wheels stretched to nearly the ends of the chassis. Roadsters' front fascias are defined by large, "mezzaluna" grilles that are blacked-out in Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW) versions. Like S versions, JCW models boast a hood-scoop intake and twin tailpipes. A small rear spoiler on the trunklid automatically rises at 50 mph.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2013 Mini Cooper Roadster comes with remote entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio and an auxiliary input, Bluetooth wireless communication, and a heated glass rear window. Base and S models have 16-inch alloy wheels, while John Cooper Works models ride on 17-inch alloys. All models use run-flat tires. On the safety front, there are four airbags, roll-over protection bars behind the seats, and frame and A-pillar reinforcements. Complimentary maintenance such as oil changes, fluid services and brake work is included for the first three years or 36,000 miles.

Notable Optional Equipment

Part of the allure of Mini vehicles is that they are highly customizable. Whether you want white mirror caps, sport stripes or Recaro racing-style seats, a Mini can be ordered as you want it. Mini states there are over 10 million possible configurations, so we won't try to name them all here. Among the notable are a navigation system, a 6-speed automatic transmission, heated front seats, leather interior, a 10-speaker harman/kardon sound system, iPhone integration, an alarm system, and upgrades to the suspension and brakes.

Under the Hood

Like the rest of Mini's model lineup, Roadsters employ a 1.6-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder engine, offered in three states of tune for various degrees of power output. The base engine is a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) version that makes an adequate 121 horsepower. S and JCW versions are turbocharged to make 181 and 208 horsepower, respectively. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, with a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters optional. Minis are fuel-efficient vehicles, but require premium gasoline.

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 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
181 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,600-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
192 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,750-5,600
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)

Pricing Notes

The 2013 Mini Cooper Roadster vies with the 4-passenger Convertible as the most expensive in the model range, with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $26,250. Load up a range-topping John Coopers Works edition, and you can pass the $40,000 mark. At these prices, the 2013 Cooper Roadster eclipses the cost of the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat 500c convertible, and begins to encroach on that of a Volkswagen Eos. Before buying, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the Mini Cooper Roadster. In terms of resale value, the Roadster's residuals are expected to hold up very well when your days in the sun are done.

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