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Auto Show:  2012 Detroit Auto Show

2012 Mini Roadster: Detroit Auto Show

author photo by Nick Palermo January 2012
  • The Mini styling and performance formula in two-seat, open-top form
  • Simple and small manual soft top for easy, single-handed operation
  • Three available engines and two transmission choices

Mini's exhibit at the Detroit Auto Show includes the debut of the two-seat ragtop Roadster, the sixth vehicle in the premium automakers lineup. Along with the recent addition of the Coupe, Mini now offers sportier options to complement the standard Cooper, Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. Like the five other vehicles in the exhibit, the styling is unmistakably Mini, with some touches from the Coupe. Three engine choices are available, and a range of technology and styling options allow customization. The small soft top is manual for easy operation, encouraging frequent top-down motoring.

The familiar Mini face and taillight style keep the look consistent with other models. Like the Coupe, the Roadster has a more steeply raked windshield than the standard Cooper or Convertible and includes an active spoiler on the rear deck lid. Stainless steel roll bars behind each seat provide crash protection. The top folds flat when deployed for smooth, uninterrupted body lines.

The 208-horsepower John Cooper Works version of the Roadster gets the most powerful engine, one of three 1.6-liter four-cylinder options. Like the JCW version, the S uses a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but more conservative tuning yields 181 hp. The base motor loses the turbocharger, but efficiently produces 121 hp with variable valve timing. Regardless of engine choice, the Roadster can be equipped with a six-speed automatic; a six-speed manual is standard.

Convenience, styling and performance possibilities allow drivers to tailor the Roadster to their personal preferences. The Mini Connected technology package offers touchscreen controls and an available navigation system. Options like rain-sensing wipers and heated seats add comfort, while a staggering variety of accessories, wheels and interior and exterior finishes let drivers personalize their Roadsters. Performance options include a sport-tuned suspension and dynamic traction control.

After getting to know the similar-but-hardtop Mini Coupe in long-term testing, we expect the small and lightweight Roadster to deliver the same excellent combination of sportiness and economy. Of course, the experience of sporty driving is almost always enhanced by an open-air cockpit. And while the Roadster may give up two seats to the Convertible, the loss will very likely translate into even more nimble driving dynamics than the athletic four-passenger models can dish out.

What it means to you: Available soon, Mini's first open-top two-seater offers the brand's signature retro styling, sprightly performance and small-car economy.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Mini Roadster: Detroit Auto Show - Autotrader