The 2014 Mini Cooper Roadster proves mini can be mighty, especially if you love the classic British roadsters of the past, but not their anemic engines and miserable reliability. As part of Mini's ballooning lineup expansion, the Cooper Roadster takes all that is good about the Cooper Convertible and shrinks it to Miata-sized proportions, sacrificing space and efficiency for even better handling and quicker acceleration. Mini offers the Roadster in three trim levels, each with a progressively more powerful engine than the last and culminating with the John Cooper Works edition. While the Cooper Roadster is big on power, fun and fuel-efficiency, a base price close to $26,500 makes it less attainable than some other compact convertibles, namely the Fiat 500c and Mazda MX-5 Miata.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a small, open-air roadster that is as expressive as it is fun to drive, the 2014 Mini Cooper Roadster excels on all fronts. Despite its front-drive layout, the Roadster moves through corners like it was chasing prey.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for open-air fun but also need room for people and luggage, a Volkswagen Beetle or Eos, or even a Ford Mustang convertible makes more sense. The Mini Cooper Roadster's price tag can also push into the $30,000 range.
There are no major changes to the 2014 Mini Cooper Roadster.
Driving the Roadster
Thanks to Mini's ability to add structural rigidity to the Roadster's tiny body, the removal of the hardtop's roof has not impacted the convertible's solidity. However, the additional bracing makes...
... the Roadster heavier than the coupe. While you'll still experience some chassis shudder over rough pavement, on the open highway the Roadster is surprisingly composed. During our extended time on the road – mostly with the top down – we were impressed by the Roadster's composure at freeway speeds. It was the twisting mountain passes, however, that sold us by showcasing the Roadster's quick steering, unflappable suspension and willing engine. The transmission of choice has to be the fabulous 6-speed manual that, at nine seconds, shaves a full second off the Roadster's 0-60 time vs. the automatic. Opt for the S or John Cooper Works trims and that time drops to a scant 6-seconds range.
6-SPEED GETRAG MANUAL TRANSMISSION Conventional wisdom tells us the manual transmission is not long for this world, but Mini tells us that 30 percent of Roadsters go out the door so equipped. So long as Mini keeps building manuals as perfect as the Roadster's 6-speed gearbox, enthusiasts have hope.
OPENOMETER Some features are fun, while others are just silly, but the Mini Openometer qualifies as a little of both. This unusual feature tracks the time you've spent open air motoring, and it reminds us that Mini still gets that cars are supposed to fun and whimsical and unique.
2014 MINI Roadster Details
In a word, the 2014 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. 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.
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.
The 2014 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.
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.
The 2014 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 $26,345. Load up a range-topping John Coopers Works edition, and you can pass the $40,000 mark. At these prices, the 2014 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.
Cons: "Controls in center and cup holders block controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We used to ride a gold-wing we sold it in 2011 and was missing the wind in our faces so we test drove the roadster in 2014 and the rest is history we've owned it since march. It really drives like a high dollar go-cart very zip pie and fun to drive gets great gas mileage if you drive normally this is from a ex Prius owner there is plenty of room in the trunk for two peoples luggage and our top stays down most of the time even in some rain the car is designed so well the rain just goes over your head the only draw back is all the controls are in the center of console the roof is very easy to work and goes up very quickly in a emergency and also room to put up in garage."
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."
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."