The new 2012 MINI Cooper Roadster is the sixth model to enter the British automaker?s current stable. It is the first sporty two-seat roadster executed in a typical MINI interpretation for open-air motoring. The top is a manual affair that is easy to open and close, making it ideal for all weather conditions, and the top stows forming a pseudo tonneau cover. The iconic MINI design language follows a formula that delivers classic roadster lines and proportions, while retaining MINI?s DNA.
Even with the top up, the MINI Roadster displays a playful, sweeping profile, with the transition from soft-top to rear end highlighting its characteristic three-box design quite clearly. Initially, with the top up, it seems a little out of proportion, but it tends to grow in favor after spending time with it. Short overhangs, powerful over-the-wheel stance and high waistline are unmistakable design features and hallmark details underlining the car?s brand identity. Other strong elements such as the strikingly stepped rear end; sharply raked A-pillars and a waistline rising up slightly along the length of the body towards the flat rear end blend to form an elegantly sweeping roadster look that stands more than ? of an inch lower than the MINI Convertible; this layout incorporates a visual separation of the car?s boot (trunk?capacity: 8.5 ft3) from the passenger compartment, while a generously wide through-loading system behind the seats enhances functionality. Occupant protection is optimized by a pair of roll-over bars behind the seats. The 2012 MINI Roadster will be offered in three versions, each available with either a manual or automatic transmission. There is the base level MINI Cooper; the MINI Cooper S; and the John Cooper Works MINI. There are three engine variants ranging from the Cooper?s 121 horsepower, 4-cyinder engine to the MINI John Cooper Works that cranks out 208 horses, with a 181 horsepower engine in between that powers the MINI Cooper S.
All engines are 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder units mounted transversely up front, driving the front wheels, with varying induction and tuning factors at work. The MINI Cooper?s engine is naturally aspirated, the Cooper S engine features twin-scroll turbocharging, and the John Cooper Works?engine which also features twin-scroll turbocharging add Direct Injection. Progressive top speed capabilities are 124 mph, 141 mph and 147 mph. EPA mileage ratings are the same for the Cooper and Cooper S – 27-mpg city, 35-mpg highway, while the John Cooper Works delivers 25-mpg city and 33-mpg highway.
Unparalleled small car segment chassis technology, includes Electric Power Steering and Dynamic Stability Control, combining with the more torsionally rigid body featuring special strengthening elements, and the car?s lower center of gravity to deliver agility along with stellar active and?passive safety that border on addictive. There are front and head-thorax airbags, an extremely rigid windscreen frame and polished stainless steel roll-over bars fixed to the body as additional safety equipment. The aerodynamic balance of the MINI Roadster is increased by an active rear spoiler that extends automatically when the car reaches 50 mph.
The MINI Roadster?s high-quality range of standard equipment, includes air conditioning, speed-sensitive steering assistance, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, height-adjustable seats, the Openometer and an audio system with MP3-compatible CD player and AUX IN connection, its levels of comfort and individuality may be further enhanced by a host of available options such as: Xenon Adaptive Headlights, black headlight housings, Park Distance Control, Comfort Access, the innovative MINI Connected infotainment system and more.
The interior of the MINI Roadster features ? in typical brand style ? a large Center Speedo and a tachometer positioned directly behind the steering wheel. Regardless of the combination of upholstery variant, trim elements and Color Lines chosen by the MINI Roadster owner, the interior color remains Carbon Black. Customary MINI variety of seat and upholstery variants includes ultra-exclusive piped sports seats. Trim strips can be ordered in any of six variants. A choice of five Color Lines is available.
A range of two non-metallic and six metallic paint shades are available for the exterior of the MINI Roadster. Sport Stripes ? available in Black, Silver and (exclusively for the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster) Red for the bonnet and boot lid ? allow owners to add an extra personal touch. The optional Chrome Line Exterior trim adds chrome surrounds for the lower air intake and rear foglamp. Light-alloy wheels fitted as standard on the MINI?Roadster come in 15, 16 or 17-inch styles, depending on the model variant.
In keeping with British roadster tradition, the roof is black. The manual opening and closing mechanism of the soft-top roof allows the driver to usher in his next dose of open-top driving pleasure without a second?s thought. And the roof can be closed again equally quickly to The roof is opened by turning the release lever on the windscreen frame though 130 degrees and swiveling the soft-top back behind the seats, where it locks into place. The process for closing the roof again is triggered by pressing a button positioned between the roll-over bars, which allow the roof to extend out of its anchorage points. It can then be pulled forward ? using a recessed grip and assisted by gas-pressure springs ? and fixed in place again against the windscreen frame. The side windows are automatically lowered during the closing process to reduce the effort required to move the soft-top into place.
My test MINI Roadster was in Cooper S trim with the six-speed manual gearbox and Sport Package. The exterior was finished in Chili Red with Silver Sport Stripes. The base sticker read $ 24,350 wile the final tally came to $28,050 after factoring in the Sport Package, Comfort Aces keyless entry, convertible wind deflector, center armrest, Bluetooth and USB/iPod adapter and Destination charge.
SUMMARY: The Mini Cooper Roadster is FUN, both to behold and to drive.?Acceleration isn?t blistering with the normally aspirated Cooper Roadster, but gear changes may be executed smoothly and easily. Handling characteristics are positive and nimble, maneuvering efficiently over challenging backroad twisties. Braking delivers security, bringing the MINI ragtop to a halt in short order. To experience the Mini is to love it. There is a standard U.S. specific Openometer, which is a specially featured gauge that records the time spent with the engine running and the roof down.
Piloting the new MINI Cooper Roadster is not only fun, it provides a rewarding experience. The MINI engines come from Brazil, the transmissions are of German descent and assembly takes place in Oxford, England, thus rendering the Mini a truly global vehicle that is still fun after more than 50 years.
There is a plethora of entertainment and connectivity features available for the MINI Roadster, allowing one to stay in touch when on the road.
The MINI Roadster?s character owes much to its British roots; it will be produced alongside the MINI Hardtop, MINI Clubman, MINI Convertible and MINI Coupe in Great Britain. The arrival of the MINI Roadster contributes to the importance of the assembly plant on the outskirts of Oxford, the press shop in Swindon and the Hams Hall engine factory. MINI ranks as the country?s third-largest carmaker, and the BMW Group is investing nearly ?500 million in the ongoing expansion and modernization of its manufacturing facilities in Britain up to 2014.
SPECIFICATIONS: MINI Cooper Roadster -?12
|Price as Tested:
|Engine Type and Size:
|1.6-liter DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder with electronic fuel injection
|121 @ 6,000 rpm
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):
|114 @ 4,250 rpm
|Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel drive
|Front – Independent MacPherson spring struts.
Rear – Independent Multi-link with anti-roll bar.
|Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, CBC, EBD, DSC and TPM
|Continental ContiSportContact P205/45/R17 84W mounted on 8-spoke alloy wheels.
|EPA Mileage Estimates:
|27 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
|0 – 60 mph:
|8.7 seconds – Top speed=124 mph