Car News:  2012 Detroit Auto Show

Detroit Preview: Mini's Lineup

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author photo by Nick Palermo December 2011
  • Roadster offers top-down Mini experience for two
  • Model lineup includes six, pint-sized configurations
  • Distinctive Mini style graces each model

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit is decidedly one of this country's most important venues for the latest vehicles and concepts. Mini, the British builder of premium small cars, says the U.S. is also their most important market. The company will therefore show their entire lineup at Detroit, including a world premier of the new Mini Roadster. Along with the original Mini Cooper and Convertible, the Clubman, Countryman and Coupe models will appear alongside the new, ragtop two-seat Roadster. Like the currently available models, the Roadster keeps the distinctive Mini formula: retro-modern style, small dimensions and agile driving characteristics.

Each vehicle in this six car lineup is instantly recognizable as a Mini. Only the exterior styling of the four-door Countryman departs from the pack, and even its sibling resemblance is obvious. The style dates back to the tiny Cooper-tuned Austin and Morris Minis of decades past, but the modern incarnation looks better than ever. Inside, the retro look continues, with each model featuring toggle switches and a large, center-mounted speedometer like one in the classic Mini.

The new Roadster is no exception. Built on the same platform as the 4-seat Convertible and the fixed roof 2-seat Coupe, the Roadster features the familiar Mini grille and oval headlights and the same tight exterior dimensions that make a Mini unmistakable.

Instead of an electric-powered soft top like the one found on the Mini Convertible, the Roadster must cover only two seats and therefore gets a small, simple manual unit. Mini expects the speed and ease of lowering and raising the Roadster's soft top to encourage frequent top-down motoring.

Like other models in the lineup, the Roadster will be offered with three capable and efficient engine options. The base Mini Cooper Roadster is powered by a 121-horsepower motor. The Cooper S Roadster gets a 181-horsepower unit, while the John Cooper Works Roadster gets the high-output, 208-horsepower version of the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Obviously, the John Cooper Works car is the quickest and least efficient. But if the Roadster performs like other Minis, expect even the base Cooper Roadster to post respectable performance and the JCW Roadster to offer excellent efficiency, thanks to the Mini's small size and light weight. Plus, the short wheelbase and sporty suspension are certain to deliver a characteristically-Mini agile driving experience.

Upon revealing the Roadster at Detroit, Mini's lineup will include two 2-seaters, two convertibles, a three-door and a four-door micro-SUV. Mini certainly has a wide range of vehicles to sell in its top market. All are small, but the formula may suit Americans' changing tastes in automobiles nicely.

What it means to you:

At NAIAS in Detroit, Mini adds the two-seat ragtop Roadster to its lineup, bring the number of small, retro-styled vehicles it offers here in the U.S. to six.

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Used 2011 MINI Cooper Hardtop
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Used 2011 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop
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Used 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman
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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.
Detroit Preview: Mini's Lineup - Autotrader