It seems like an awful long time ago that MINI first unveiled the Coupé/Roadster two-seat twins, but finally the less divisive looking one has arrived. The Roadster goes on sale in the UK early in 2012 following its official world debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January.
If you're familiar with the recently launched MINI Coupé then you know what to expect from the Roadster. It shares that car's two-seat cabin with through-loading to a relatively large boot. The biggest news is the adoption of a manually-operated fabric folding roof. It had been assumed that an electric roof would be used, but MINI opted for the fabric version to save weight - and ease packaging no doubt. Indeed, MINI makes a big deal of the fact that the Roadster has the lowest centre of gravity of any of its current models.
Obviously that should enhance the all-important 'go-kart' handling. Like the Coupé, only the more performance oriented engines are offered. Entry-level is the 1.6-litre Cooper Roadster with 121bhp. The Cooper S comes in petrol and SD diesel forms, while the top of the range is a 208bhp John Cooper Works (JCW) model. All versions are driven from the front wheels, and while a six-speed manual gearbox is standard, an automatic transmission is offered on all variants other than the JCW.
Prices start at £18,015 for the Cooper Roadster. The Cooper S is £20,900, the SD version £21,630 and the range-topping JCW model retails at £24,850. Equipment levels will mirror those of the Coupé.
Shane O' Donoghue - 31 Oct 2011