With the ever-increasing variants of MINI’s lately, there’s surely one to suit everyone’s desires. One of the latest arrivals is the MINI Roadster, it’s effectively a MINI Coupe that’s had its roof chopped off and replaced with an electrically retractable canvas soft-top. By removing the semi-automatic roof the Roadster offers wind in the hair motoring for its two occupants. With our typical damp Irish climate I only had one opportunity to drive with the roof folded down during my week long test drive. It was a pleasant albeit short experience, there’s little wind buffeting inside the cabin, the rear wind deflector takes care of this. The roadster is as much fun to drive as any Mini model, more so with the roof down, despite the loss or structural rigidity from a steel roof, the roadster still has impeccable road manners with a superb handling chassis. Whilst it’s fun it slightly lacks the thrill of a Mazda MX-5 with its rear-wheel-drive setup.
Prices for the MINI Roadster commence from €26,260 for the Cooper Roadster, with all models featuring rear Park Distance Control, air conditioning, mp3 connectivity and front and head-thorax airbags as standard. My test car was dressed in the optional John Cooper Works Sport Pack (€3,770) which adds sporty bumpers and side skirts along with 17” Cross Spoke alloys. The interior has John Cooper Works embossed side sills and leather sports seats which have a snug fit, the dash and door cards have piano black inserts which provide the interior with a quality feel. With the roof in the closed position there’s little wind noise evident, it’s well insulated. Opening the roof involves releasing a hand-operated mechanism at the front, and then with the press of a switch the roof retracts electrically behind the seats. It’s a prettier car with the roof folded down.
The Cooper Roadster I drove is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine which produces 122hp, it’s a sweet engine with ample power for the majority of drives. If driven gingerly it’ll return a combined fuel consumption of 5.7l/100km (49.6mpg). The rest of the Roadster range is comprised of a Cooper S with 184hp, the John Cooper Works boasting an impressive 211hp, but the pick of the bunch may well be the Cooper SD Roadster. This variant offers a very respectable 143hp from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, with the added benefit of offering excellent economy, with a combined average fuel consumption of just 4.5l/100km (62.8mpg). With 118g/km of C02 it’s placed in tax band A, with €160 annual road tax.
The removal of the roof on the MINI Coupe, has resulted in this Roadster which puts some excitement into the journey, that is when the weather grants you permission to do so.[table “72” not found /]