Mini is expanding its product range with a new Roadster, spun off the iconic Cooper hatchback and convertible. The answer for car shoppers looking for a more distinct model with less seating than a traditional Mini, the Roadster will arrive this spring starting at $25,050, with $700 destination charges included. The Roadster is joined by a new Coupe variant ($22,000), and each offers a lower-profile interpretation of the basic Mini Cooper design.
Despite how it looks, the Roadster is just more than an inch shorter than a regular convertible, but the visual effect is more dramatic. As the name suggests, this is strictly a two seater, with a limited cargo space that is maximized with a pass-through for longer objects.
It is offered in three flavors:
Base Roadster with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 121 horsepower. Mini claims a 0-60 mph time of 8.7 seconds, with fuel economy rated at 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway. On paper, or screen as you read this, the figures look a bit tepid, but this combination is more engaging than the numbers suggest, aided by nimble handling and well-weighted electric steering.
Starting at $28,050, the Roadster S adds a turbocharger to the mix, boosting engine output to 181 horsepower. The extra zip brings 0-60 mph times down to 6.7 seconds, with no change in the claimed fuel economy. Of course, indulge in the compelling turbo too often, and fuel economy will most assuredly dip.
As with other Mini cars, the top-flight offering is a higher-performance John Cooper Works edition.
Starting at $35,200, the JCW version produces 208 horsepower and far more grins per mile. Quite at home on the track, the JCW model bumps 0-60 mph times down to 6.3 seconds, with a nominal fuel economy penalty. The real ding is the extra $10,000 in the price.
As with other Mini Coopers, the Roadster comes loaded with safety gear and standard equipment, with an extensive array of option packages and additional a la carte items to personalize the vehicle.