ONE FOR THE ROAD (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 60
The rakish MINI Roadster produced between 2011 and 2016 was yet another twist on the MINI theme, based on the Coupe model, offering two seats and delivering a whole lot of fresh air fun. This was the first real sportscar the brand had brought us. Throw back the hood on a sunny day and you'll wonder what can come close.
Modelsword count: 12
2dr convertible (1.6 petrol/2.0 diesel [Cooper / Cooper S/ JCW/ Cooper SD])
Historyword count: 277
Whatever you think about MINI, you can't deny that it's bought a spark to the small car market. This spark was much needed in an affordable Roadster segment that by late 2011 was a shadow of its former self. Once, this sector hosted all manner of makers - brands like Toyota, Renault, Fiat - all trying to emulate the purist appeal of the two cars that best encapsulate the Roadster concept in the minds of modernday motorists tempted towards it. Mazda's MX-5 for those needing everyday transport. Lotus' Elise for those with something more practical in the garage. In late 2011 though, buyers looking for an affordable roadster found that unless they were prepared to consider something as outlandish as a Caterham 7, only the Mazda and the Lotus remained as options, extremes in a pretty extreme kind of market. So the MINI Roadster proposition, launched into the UK at that time, looked tempting. The idea was to provide potential customers with a blend of MX-5 and Elise virtues, along with an added dash of MINI magic. This was the sixth different MINI bodystyle, following Hatch, Convertible, Clubman estate, Countryman five-door and Coupe model variants. It was the Coupe bodyshape that made this Roadster possible, that car donating all the underpinnings that make this Roadster quite a different proposition from the standard MINI Convertible. As focused as a Lotus, yet a car that you could use every day if you needed to. A bit of fun in a world that sorely needs it. The MINI Roadster's period on sale lasted until a couple of years after the third generation modern era MINI Hatch was launched in 2014.
What You Getword count: 644
If you don't care for the rather divisive styling of the MINI Coupe, you might find the Roadster a little more to your liking. This certainly won't be the sleekest-looking car of its kind you've ever seen, but the 13-degrees of increased rake in the windscreen does lend it a racier look, especially when the roof's down, with a waistline that rises gently along the body length towards the strikingly stepped rear end that makes reverse parking so awkward. Not as awkward, it must be said, as it is on a MINI Convertible, for in this case the roof folds in lower, flush with the rear deck and snug below its own integrated tonneau cover, rather than concertinaing back and sitting stacked on the rear end like a pram's hood as it does on the Convertible. Despite all this, over the shoulder rearward visibility still isn't the best - but then roadsters were never meant to be perfectly practical, as you'll discover upon seating yourself inside where you'll find that the racier angle of the windscreen leaves the header rail positioned rather closer to your head than you might ideally like. The thickness of this rail might also be an issue for taller drivers, but it's necessary in order to secure the latching mechanism for the single-skin canvas roof. That makes the hood different to that of the MINI Convertible, which has a multi-layer roof with insulation and an inner cosmetic lining so that you don't see the frame. It's all a little more crude in the Roadster but the top functionality is still slick. At the onset of inclement weather, you simply press the button that will raise the fabric top in just five seconds. That's ten seconds quicker than the MINI Convertible can manage, but in this case, you do have to manually complete the process at the end by clicking the latch into place. Hood up, you've a roofline that's 20mm lower than that of the ordinary soft-topped MINI but getting in and out is still relatively easy. Putting the canvas covering down again is just as easy, but ex-MINI Convertible owners will be disappointed to find that when they do, there isn't that model's neat 'sunroof-open-style' interim position that's so useful in our changeable British climate. At least German roof designers Edscha have ensured that a heated rear window is built into it. MINI Convertible owners who occasionally need to carry a couple of kids will also be disappointed to find that in this Roadster, you don't get any rear seats. Still, compensation in this car comes with its much greater luggage space - 240-litres, compared to the pathetic 125-litres you get in the Convertible. Which means that, amazingly, this Roadster has a boot nearly as big as is offered by MINI's Clubman estate. Enough then, for a lot more than just a credit card and wash kit. Better still, the trunk's extendable via a hatch through which you can poke skis or long items up to 1.7m in length. Or indeed reach back into the boot to retrieve small items across a cross-rack that sits behind the seats. Behind the grippy three-spoke wheel, there's a cocooning feel created by the raked-back windscreen. More familiar though are the usual chromed toggle switches and the smartly-trimmed dash dominated by its traditionally huge central speedometer. This is a triumph of style over function for so awkward to view is its outer needle read-out that you tend to ignore it in favour of the digital speed display in the middle of the circular rev counter that sprouts from the steering column directly in front of you. If you're going to be driving top-down on longer trips, you'll want to slot in the mesh wind deflector MINI provides as an option to slot between the lovely chromed rear rollover hoops. What To Look For
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