Mini Cooper S Roadster

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 184 PS
Torque: 240 Nm between 1,600 and 5,000 rpm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 47.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Top speed: 141 mph
Acceleration (0-62 mph): 7.0 seconds
Price: £20,905

Just when it looked as though BMW had run out of ideas for future Mini variants, it came up last year with the Coupé, a radical two-door, two-seat version with an unusual lowered helmet-like roof and steeply raked windscreen. Now, with summer approaching, the Coupé gets an open-topped counterpart, the Roadster.

The two new cars are pretty much the same as the standard Mini under the skin but in one respect at least, they reflect a certain boldness on BMW’s part. Ever since the company reinvented the Mini back in 2001, it has tended to follow quite closely the template set by the 1959 original in terms of body styles and model names but the Coupé and the Roadster have no real historical precedents. The last time BMW tried to extend the Mini envelope in this way with the larger Countryman, it produced a mixed response (that’s “mixed” as in motoring journalists didn’t really like it while customers fell in love with the thing and are buying it in huge numbers) but everyone seems to love the Coupé and the Roadster.  

That’s because although they don’t follow a traditional Mini body style, they score very highly in terms of the core Mini trait of packing a lot of fun into a small, visually appealing package, and, of the two, it is probably the Roadster, which looks very attractive indeed in roof-down mode, that probably has the edge.  

And this is where a bit of magic comes in. The Roadster’s bonnet conceals the same engines as you’d find in a normal Mini hatchback, and the air that you breathe with the top down is no fresher than the air that you’d breathe in a standard Mini Convertible but the new car feels altogether cheekier and sportier in character – in short, more special. That’s probably partly because of the Roadster’s packaging, which closely follows that of the Coupé. These cars make no pretence at providing a back seat and they are better for it. The driver and passenger have a bit more room to stretch, and the space that would otherwise be sacrificed to provide a tiny rear seat that nobody would ever sit in can be given over to luggage, making the Roadster ideal for weekend trips. The Roadster’s much more steeply raked windscreen provides quite an important contribution to that sporty feel as well.

At first sight, the interiors of the high-end Roadsters I drove seemed to be a slightly awkward mélange of competing traditional British automotive cabin styles, with a characteristic Mini centrally-mounted “dinner-plate” speedometer jostling for attention with 1960s Cortina-style eyeball vents, Bentleyesque leather and distinctly Rover-y seats. After a few minutes, though, it all seems to come together and I’d actually rate the Roadster’s interior as one of its strong points.

Out on the road, like all of the smaller Mini models, the Roadster is excellent. I tried the 143 horsepower 2.0-litre SD turbodiesel and the 184 horsepower 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol Cooper S, and both provided strong performance over the excellent twisty and hilly Cotswold test routes BMW laid on to show off the new car’s abilities. The diesel impresses with its superior mid-range torque, economy and distinctly undieselly refinement but the petrol Cooper S has a stronger initial bite when you put your foot down. That suits the character of the Roadster particularly well. Dynamically, it is a known quantity, providing a strong reminder of how just how good the Mini’s chassis behaviour is, rather than moving the game on in any significant way.

I also tried BMW’s Mini Connected app which allows you to link your car to your iPhone in order to keep up with Facebook and Twitter, listen to Internet radio stations and (while stationary) watch video, all via the optional screen set into the Mini’s large central instrument dial and the in-car speakers. Another feature is that you can export destination addresses that you have previously researched via Google Maps to the car’s sat-nav, rather than faffing around entering them manually. It all works rather well. Minis now also have DAB radios and I found that reception of the main national BBC and commercial stations in the Cotswolds was for the most part pretty good.

Bloated Countryman apart, Minis are always fun – and the Roadster provides more fun than all the rest.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.


ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

    £14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

    Recruitment Genius: Healthcare Assistant

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of care services is looking for...

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings Administrator

    £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Purpose of Role: To co-ordinate maintena...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent