The Mini Cooper Roadster is one of the oddballs in the Mini family. It takes the exact same platform as the base Cooper and Cooper Convertible but it tosses two seats in favor of a more traditional trunk to create a two-seat open-top joyriders toy.
Thanks to the loss of seats, the Roadster is lighter than its Convertible platform mate and therefore more entertaining to drive.
When it lost the seats and that square profile, it didn’t lose its Mini heritage. The classic Mini proportions and design cues are all present, and to our eyes the Roadster looks even better than the Coupe and Convertible cars.
Just like almost every other Mini in the lineup, the new Roadster is offered in standard, S and John Cooper Works trim levels with varying levels of performance and equipment.
What does the Mini Roadster have that gives it an edge over the six other Mini body styles you can take home from your local dealer.
Click past the jump for all the details.
You would never mistake the 2014 Mini Roadster as anything but a Mini. It features that same Cooper front end that has been slathered on every Mini model since its resurgence in 2003. Cutting the backseats out and creating a more traditional profile does wonders for the overall appearance of the Mini Roadster compared to its cousin the Mini Convertible.
The speed-sensitive rear spoiler, alloy wheels and steeply raked windshield all make for a Mini that looks even sportier than before. The S model adds some extra visual flair with a functional hood scoop and a center mounted exhaust. A chrome fuel filler cap is also standard on the S.
The John Cooper Works model takes visual flair to the max with bespoke 17-inch alloy wheels, a black grille and an even sportier exhaust design. Of course, there are is a collection of JCW badges to let everyone know how special your Roadster really is.
|Curb Weight||2635 pounds (Cooper) / 2745 pounds (Cooper S) / 2,767 pounds (JCW)|
Mini prides itself on making big spaces in tiny boxes, and the Roadster carries on that tradition. The seating arrangement is roomier than most anyone would ever expect with maximum headroom of 39.6 inches. That is actually better than what you get in a Volkswagen Golf , which only provides 39.3 inches.
The Mini Roadster also takes home top prize in cargo space compared to its peers. The Porsche Boxster only has 5.3 cubic feet of space, and the Mazda MX-5 GT only has 4.6 cubes. The Roadster however rings in at a stout 8.5 cubic feet. That is almost as much space as the trunk of the 2014 Nissan GT-R we just reviewed.
The new Mini Roadster is powered by a collection of 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines. Each overhead cam engine features a variable valve timing system based on BMW ’s Valvetronic system and direct injection. The base Cooper Roadster’s engine is naturally aspirated and produces a modest 121 horsepower. It’s not earth shattering, but in a car as small as the Mini Roadster, it provides ample thrills.
For a more exciting drive, the Cooper S variant of the roadster has you covered. It features the same engine as the base car, but it adds a twin-scroll turbocharger. That bumps power up by 60 ponies to 181 horsepower. That extra grunt is enough to cut a full two seconds off the 0-to-60 sprint. Despite all the extra grunt, the S only loses one mpg to the base car in city and combined driving.
For all out thrust and performance the John Cooper Works variant is the go-to model. Its turbocharged 1.6 is even more powerful than S and makes 208 horsepower. It drops the 0-to-60 time even further and has a top speed of 147 mph.
All three engines are available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. But don’t waste your time buying the auto. The Mini is the perfect car to learn the fundamentals of good driving technique and the manual transmission is a perfect dance partner.
|Engine Specifications||Cooper||Cooper S||JCW|
|Engine||1.6-liter four-cylinder||1.6-liter Turbocharged||1.6-liter Turbocharged|
|Horsepower @ RPM||121 @ 6,000 rpm||181 @ 5,500 rpm||208 @ 6,000|
|Torque||118 lb-ft||177 lb-ft||207 lb-ft|
|0-60 Time||8.7 seconds||6.7 seconds||6.3 seconds|
|Top Speed||124 mph||141 mph||147 mph|
Suspension and Brakes
The Mini Roadster comes standard with a performance-oriented suspension that features a MacPherson strut design up front and a multi-link setup in the rear. The rear also features aluminum-alloy longitudinal arms to reduce unsprung weight.
An upgraded suspension with stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars can be ordered as an option for the base Cooper Roadster and Cooper S Roadster. Stopping duties are handled by a four-wheel ABS braking system.
The John Cooper Works car benefits from a special JCW-tuned sport suspension and also features stiffer stabilizer bars as standard. The JCW also comes standard with a Brembo brake kit with ventilated discs.
The Fiat 500c has the Mini matched in size and style, plus it has the added bonus of the available Abarth version. There are few micro-rockets that look as good or go as fast as the Abarth 500c . With a unique convertible top that can be opened or closed at speeds up to 50 mph, the 500c family has a lot going for it.
Gallery Fiat 500c Abarth
The Miata is the king of the roadster world. With its perfect 50:50 weight balance and rear-wheel-drive setup, it can out-handle most any car on the planet. Unfortunately, its naturally aspirated four-cylinder is down on torque and will have a hard time keeping up with the grunt and speed from the Roaster S and JCW.
Gallery Mazda MX-5 Miata Club - Driven
The Mini Roadster family is a fun and funky way to get into a two-door roadster. Its front-wheel-drive chassis design can cut down on true sports car fun, but it is still nimble, thanks to its small size. The base powertrain is a little underpowered, but the Roadster makes up for its lack of speed with style.
- Funky looks
- JCW and S cars are quick
- Open top fun
- A little expensive
- Base models are underpowered
- Not nearly as practical as other Mini models