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2014 MINI Roadster

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2014 MINI Roadster Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.1

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.

What's New for 2014

There are no major changes to the 2014 Mini Cooper Roadster.

Driving the Roadster
Driving Impressions

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
Interior

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.

Exterior

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

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: 28/35 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: 27/35 mpg (automatic), 26/35 mpg (manual)

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)

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