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2015 MINI Roadster

Overview
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2015 MINI Roadster Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.0

Mini’s 2-seat Roadster for 2015 fills the void left by the demise of such classic British roadsters as the Triumph Spitfire and TR6. Unlike these vintage 2-seaters, however, the Mini Roadster is neither anemic nor unreliable. To create the Roadster, the Cooper convertible has been rethought, offering less passenger space but a larger trunk and a big boost in performance. Though not as sleek as the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the Roadster, nevertheless, has a charm all its own. Like the Fiat 500c, the 2015 Mini Roadster offers three different engine choices, including the high-output John Cooper Works edition. But where the Roadster outmuscles both the Fiat and Mazda, its $27,000 starting price makes it a much more expensive prospect.

You'll Like This Car If...

Love the idea of a small and agile open-air European roadster but can’t afford a Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4? Mini’s Roadster for 2015 is the perfect solution. Small, cute and quick, this front-drive drop-top is sure to put a smile on your face, rain or shine.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Open-air fun doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or capacity. If you sometimes need to bring along a friend or two plus their belongings, a VW Eos, Ford Mustang or even Chevrolet Camaro convertible makes more sense. The Mini Roadster’s ride is also rather harsh.

What's New for 2015

Changes to the Mini Roadster for 2015 include the addition of rain-sensing wipers and automatic climate control as standard equipment.

Driving the Roadster
Driving Impressions

Historically, removing a car’s roof results in added body flex and reduced handling. This is not the case with the 2015 Mini Roadster. Additional structural bracing helps the Roadster’s body...

... remain rigid, although it also adds additional weight compared to the coupe. We did notice some slight chassis shudder on rough pavement, but on less radical surfaces our Mini Roadster proved surprisingly composed. Most of our road time was spent with the top down, and even at freeway speeds, the Mini Roadster remained solid and stable. The experience got even better once we moved to winding mountain roads, where the Roadster’s quick steering, responsive suspension and 181-horsepower turbocharged engine thrilled at every apex. The Roadster’s 6-speed manual transmission was a pure joy to drive and shaves a full second off the automatic’s 10-second 0-60 time. The 208-horsepower John Cooper Works trim does it in seven seconds flat.

6-SPEED GETRAG MANUAL TRANSMISSION
While many are already writing the manual transmission’s eulogy, it remains alive and well in Mini’s 2015 Roadster. Smooth, precise and offering better acceleration and fuel economy than the automatic, there’s a timeless interaction between driver and machine only made possible when a manual transmission is onboard.

OPENOMETER
Some may call it fun, others frivolous, but the Mini Openometer is one of those whimsical features we love, regardless of usefulness. The Openometer simply keeps track of the time you’ll spend with the top down, a nice reminder of why you bought a roadster in the first place.

2015 MINI Roadster Details
Interior

In a word, the 2015 Mini 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 Roadster for 2015 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 2015 Mini Roadster comes with remote entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD player with HD Radio and an auxiliary input, Bluetooth wireless communication, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control 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, all 2015 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: 26/34 mpg (automatic), 27/34 (manual)

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: 25/34 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: 25/34 mpg (automatic), 26/35 mpg (manual)

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