News : MINI Roadster unveiled

Roadster is the sixth member of the MINI family - and it goes on sale in Spring 2012
Roadster is the sixth member of the MINI family - and it goes on sale in Spring 2012

The MINI family is expanding again. Hot on the wheels of the Coupé comes the launch of the sixth model in the line-up, the all-new MINI Roadster. This is the first open-topped two-seater in the company’s history. And being built at Cowley means MINI is claiming it to be a spiritual successor to the traditional British roadsters of old.

The semi-automatic operation of the tailored soft-top roof means rapid opening and closing, and it doesn’t affect the MINI Roadster’s practicality in any way. This is a versatile two-seater with a stowage area behind the driver and passenger seats, generous 240-litre luggage area and through-loading system.

Selling alongside the Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Countryman and Coupé, the MINI Roadster will arrive in UK showrooms next spring. As with the recently launched MINI Coupé, all variants of the MINI Roadster carry the Cooper name in their model titles. Full details of standard and optional equipment on each will be released nearer the launch. A wide range of accessories and personalisation choices will be available.


Model OTR Price CO2(g/km) MPG(Combined) Power(hp) Top Speed(mph)
MINI Cooper Roadster £18,015 133 49.6 122 124
MINI Cooper S Roadster £20,900 139 47.1 184 141
MINI Cooper SD Roadster £21,630 118 62.8 143 132
MINI John Cooper Works Roadster £24,850 169 38.7 211 147

Unique but familiar styling

The MINI Roadster is true to the marque’s existing design language, but sculpted to the classic proportions of a roadster. With an exterior length of 3734 mm (see panel below for model variations), a width of 1683 mm and a wheelbase of 2467 mm, the MINI Roadster’s footprint closely mirrors that of the MINI Convertible. However, the roofline is more than 20 mm lower than its four-seater sibling, allowing the Roadster to cut a distinctive, low-slung and visually stretched stance.

Designed around a traditional three-box body structure, the car’s silhouette is dominated by the heavily raked A-pillars, angled backwards by an extra 13 degrees over the MINI Convertible. The waistline rises gently along the car’s length towards the strikingly stepped rear end.

Powerful and fuel-efficient engines

Power for the MINI Roadster comes from the latest generation of fuel-efficient BMW Group four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Fuel economy stretches from 38.7mpg to 62.8mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as just 118g/km on the Cooper SD. Even the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster emits only 169g/km. A full technical breakdown for each model is given below.

Classic Roadster dynamics with advanced technology

Vital to getting the best from the powerful engines and customary front-wheel drive transmission is MINI’s outstanding chassis technology. It pushes the brand’s hallmark driving fun to the fore, with a ‘go-kart’ feeling that’s agile, precise and stable.

The heavily raked A-pillars and windscreen reduce the frontal area of the body and therefore cut levels of drag. Like the MINI Coupé, the Roadster is fitted with an active rear spoiler that’s integrated into the tailgate. It extends automatically as soon as the car reaches 50 mph and drops back at 37 mph, though can also be operated manually.

Electric Power Steering (EPS) with speed-sensitive assistance is standard and a Sport button on the centre console, standard on all MINI Roadster models, allows the driver to adjust the car’s steering characteristics and accelerator responses. If the optional six-speed automatic gearbox is specified, pressing this button also shortens shift times.

MINIMALISM environmental technology as standard

All versions of the MINI Roadster come with the brand’s MINIMALISM environmental technology as standard, providing exceptional powertrain efficiency. Features such as Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start/Stop, Shift Point Display, Electric Power Steering and the need-based operation of ancillary components help to make efficient use of fuel with low emissions. Additional features include innovative thermal encapsulation of the drivetrain, which shortens the fuel-sapping warm-up period after a cold start.

High standard specification and extensive range of options

The MINI Roadster’s generous list of standard equipment includes speed-sensitive steering assistance, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, rear Park Distance Control, air conditioning and an audio system with MP3-compatible CD player, DAB radio and AUX IN connection. Safety features include front and head-thorax airbags, an extremely rigid windscreen frame and polished stainless steel roll-over bars for outstanding occupant protection.

The MINI Roadster is available in two non-metallic and six metallic paint shades. In keeping with British roadster tradition, the roof remains in black. Sport stripes, available in three colours for the bonnet, boot lid and rear apron, allow owners to add an extra personal touch. Alloy wheels of 15, 16 or 17in diameter are standard, depending on the model.

Exterior dimensions:

Length: 3734mm (MINI Cooper Roadster: 3728mm, MINI John Cooper Works Roadster: 3758mm)
1390mm (MINI Cooper Roadster: 1384mm, MINI John Cooper Works Roadster: 1391mm)


Keith Adams


  1. Typically cute. Love it. Good luck to ’em.

    I saw my first Coupé yesterday, too: much nicer in the flesh, although silver with black roof probably helped to camouflage the wonky roof line.

    Doubtless, though, there will be the usual comments here of “not a real Mini”, “wasn’t like this in my day”, “bloody Germans”, “bloody BMW can’t make cars for toffee”, “looks just like an ADO104 – that was our idea” etc. etc. Hey, ho.

  2. I’m pro new Mini, love the countryman where as most people hate it (somehow, if you get over the obvious size, the countryman looks the most like a mini out of the lot). This roadster is nice, but.. i dunno.. Where as I stand up for most new Minis Genes, this really has stretched it one step to far for me, great car, don’t get me wrong.. but a decedent of the original Mini, on any level, it aint.

  3. I think it’s the Big square nose to screen ratio that helps the Countryman to look like a real mini 🙂

  4. So Dr Love you’re saying the Roadster isn’t like the original mini, but the large 4×4 countryman is? Have to admit that sounds a bit like saying a chopped mini shortie is less true to the original car than one that’s had it’s body welded to a Suzuki jeep chassis.

    But back to the point, this roadster looks ok, but let’s face it, it’s basically the convertible with out a back seat and reduced headroom. The back seat in the normal car is pretty tiny as it is so removing that chunk of the car doesn’t make it a great deal smaller. I just don’t really see the point of it.

  5. im sure hairdressers will love it,what next the mini backhoe?mini compressor or mini unimog/bmx.Fat arsed and lardy looking and lacking the purity of the this car is the x factor of cars-variations on a theme pumped to the masses heads turned to soup.At least the fiat 500 does’nt look much bigger than the original and looks as least as cute.Never been a great fan of this car at all even if i do respect the rover engineered bmw mini dynamics.The originals austerity appealed because it did enough and no more to get you where you needed to be.

  6. The current FIAT 500 is a LOT bigger than the original, I think it’s the extra height that disguises its length.

    Original 2.97m long
    New 3.546 long, that’s 20% longer

    For the Mini
    Original 3.05 long
    BMW Mk1 3.63 long, that’s 19% longer
    BMW Mk2 3.698 long, that’s 21% longer than the original

    I think this roadster is better than the normal cabrio, as it doesn’t have the pramlike folding roof at the back (though it’s better than the old Metro Cabrio in that respect) and the raked windscreen looks better. Whether it’s worth the effort is another matter…

  7. Better than some of the tripe they’ve been rolling out in the last couple of years.

    On a slightly separate note, I’m getting tired of this Orwellian/Teutonic “Plant Oxford” tosh – it’s Cowley and always will be! What is the obsession with having names back-to-front?? The boss at a car dealer being called “Dealer Principal” as well. Leave this linguistic anomaly to the European languages and let’s get back to proper “British” English!!

  8. thanks so much for those specifications mikey c,as you have probably deduced im niether a weights or measures fan,and whether they are 19% or 21 and two turds the mini looks a lot bigger in height width stance everything.The fiat still looks truer in size to the original unlike the current mini,setting that aside the one thing i did noticed in brief ownership of a 2005 cooper works(any mini really) is how looking out of the windscreen is how it almost felt like i was sitting in an original mini,uncanny really.

  9. Oh dear!!! Mikey C, this car has nothing to do with the MINI/mini moniker!!! It somewhat owes DNA to Spritget, the Lamm mini cabrio also looked like a pram, difference is compared to a MINI cabrio 21st century, the latter isn’t exclusive, let alone pretty. Unfortunatly, it sells in big numbers, and like the bmw 3-series(and 5’s)it’s more common than mundeo/407/c5-6… How long before the bubble bursts? bmw, merc, audi have diluted their 80’s reputation ( quality, bullet-proof built/reliability) to market share and big numbers… Not a sign of exclusivity, more so, quality has taken a steep dive, merc 190 are not as rusty as c(3rd)-class, a and b class are a joke compared to Eastern half priced opponents! One has become more EXCLUSIVE/DISCERNING driving a CITROEN C6 than a german 5/e/a6car!!! Who’s the car mass market builder then? Keep this comment in your memory, I told you so…

  10. W&P will supply a REAL “new” mini cabrio 20th Century for that kind of money!!! if I had 20K to blow, I’d loose money on a bmw MINI cabrio… If it comes to exclusivity, Heritage and REAL image, 20K for a mini W&P convertible, it looks like a bargain… Let’s wait until I get these 6 numbers…

  11. @Paul T

    Be thankful they haven’t named it Das Oxford Moterwerken.

    After the horrendous Countryman, any smaller MINI seems slightly more acceptable.

  12. Didier, it seems a strange complaint that the German marques have been too successful, I’m sure Citroen would love to have everyone driving C6s, instead of the miniscule numbers sold.

    Selling overpriced cars in high volumes sounds like a pretty good business model to me, one which JLR with the Evoque are successfully following. If BMC had produced profitable cars back in the 60s, things would have been very different…

  13. @ Dennis
    “So Dr Love you’re saying the Roadster isn’t like the original mini, but the large 4×4 countryman is? Have to admit that sounds a bit like saying a chopped mini shortie is less true to the original car than one that’s had it’s body welded to a Suzuki jeep chassis.”

    Yeah, lol.. You’ve pretty much confirmed my point! lol.. The Mini body on the Jeep Chassis would look far more like a mini then the shortie! THe squarer lines of the countryman just remind me of the original mini allot more that this roadster.. though the pictures of the original Mini that’s been Roadsterised shine a different light on it 😉

  14. I’m getting bored with reading about yet another pointless MINI derivative. And £25k’s worth of pointless as well! And judging by Autocar’s test of the MINI Coupe JCW it’s a bit wide of the mark.

  15. imagine what you could have for £24k an old m3 an original mini a mk2 escort etc etc all with more have more kudos than this poncey stupid car id buy ten itals and an alsation fed on bitumen.

  16. What always makes me laugh with “MINI’s” press photos, is while they make them selves out to be British, even selling union jack decals to go on the roof. The press photos always show german registered LHD cars, of course we all know it’s a german company, but you’d think they’d show UK registered cars to keep up the pretence a bit!

    • @Keith:

      Please, not the German number plates debate again 🙂


      I’m sure it is very simple: These markting guys are surely based in Munich and they – as most Germans – do not give a toss about the numberplates fitted… People spending more than 20 Euros on a selected number plate combination is causing either head scratching or laughter over here.

  17. Some UK Car adverts used to have NI numberplates as they hid the age.

    The DeLorean wore these on some publicity shots, and there would be no controversy whatsoever!

    Then the likes of Ford introduced generic mirror-able white numberplates (eg. UOU 101).

    I think the MINI German plates thing is a cannoy ploy, as:
    – Brainwashed by the media, UK residents associate German with being ‘better’. Part of the sales success is *because* they are perceived as German, therefore they are trading on it
    – US associates European plates with German plates
    – GB plates have a ridiculous system that makes a car out of date at most 6 months later! Therefore, ‘MY61 RSR’ for example would be out of date in March.

  18. No I know the marketing people are obviously based in Munich it’s a german company. Yet they still put up the pretence that they’re British cars! Just amuses me they go to so much effort to big up the Cool Britania element, then show a LHD car with german plates. Almost everyone else uses non-descript symetrical number plates so they can be ‘flipped’ electronically when they film LHD/RHD ads.

    “Some UK Car adverts used to have NI numberplates as they hid the age”

    Northern Ireland is indeed part of the United Kingdom…..

  19. @ Keith Adams:

    I’m not saying anything on the German number plates this time as I recall that I was one of those who fired off a rocket previously and created an avalanche!

    All I would say on the MINI Roadster is that it does look aesthetically more pleasing than the established Convertible version and will hopefully add even greater prosperity to British jobs at the Cowley Assembly Plant.

  20. More sour grapes. What people can’t stand about the new Mini is that it is a raging success. Pure and simple.

  21. I often wonder if they produced a basic, noisy one litre saloon with poor build quality, less than satisfactory reliability and poor rust proofing with a tiny boot and the comfort of a go kart that it would sell to purists. There could be a market for a so called Mini Classic.

  22. “More sour grapes. What people can’t stand about the new Mini is that it is a raging success. Pure and simple.”

    No sour grapes at all. Just a comment on the marketing, seeing as they push it as being British, then it would make more sense to show photos of a RHD one knocking around some iconic british landmarks. I mean you wouldn’t expect to see French registered Ferrari driving around Newcastle in the Ferrari advertising?!

    And yes i think if they still sold a Mini Classic it would sell quite well, VW had strong sales of the original Beetle long after it was replaced. There are still a decent amount of new south american built VW campers imported every year. The new VW campers rot just as badly as the original ones.

    The trouble is as soon as you dare to make even the slightest negative hint about BMW or the Mini brand on here people jump on you assuming you hate the brand and want to destroy it. I actually quite like the car, the countryman is hideous and this two seater looks good but seems a little pointless, you’re basically just paying more for less seats and less headroom. Still it makes more sense than buying an Aston Martin Cygnet i suppose, though that ain’t saying much!

  23. @Dennis
    “And yes i think if they still sold a Mini Classic it would sell quite well”

    Much as I love the Classic Mini (and still own one as well as my BMW MINI) sales were in steady decline nearly every year until the end. Despite BMW funding the MPI emission & safety upgrades to extend its life to 2000 and canceling Rover’s original plans to kill it in 1996. It also became no longer viable for suppliers such as AP to supply parts like the auto transmission in such tiny volumes at a reasonable cost.

    In spite of the hype surrounding the Mini’s demise sales had almost dried up by the end. Even after a reduction of about £900, it took time for the last 2000 stock of classic Mini’s to find retail customers.

    Many MG Rover Dealers were not great fans of promoting Mini’s in their showrooms either, because their ‘modern’ customers expected far greater quality and reliability than the 40 year old design could achieve, without much after sales warranty work…….

  24. I think MG-Rover dealers not promoting them in the show-rooms probably answers your first statement pretty well. I know of one enthusiast who tried to buy one in 1999 only to be told they didn’t make them any more! Either the salesman was ignorant or an idiot for turning down a 10k sale!

    But you are of course right it wouldn’t sell in high numbers compared to a modern volume car, but it would i think sell in viable decent amounts for small scale production. The VW campers i mention are a good example, i believe they’re built in south america and are imported to the UK by an independent dealer, but it’s rare to make a motorway trip during the summer in the UK and not see one or two of these ‘old’ campers with odd looking ’09’ or ’11’ registrations.

  25. I was being ironic about the Mini Classic, but I daresay a few enthusiasts would still be tempted to buy one if a company started making them. However, what would really work would be to keep the original body style and fit a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, could you imagine a 1959 design with a top speed of 135 mph?
    Yet there is one design icon that seems to be completely ignored on AR Online: the three wheeler. Although the design and the name changed three times, the basic concept of the Reliant three wheeler remained the same for 50 years, a three wheeled car that could be run on a bike licence with the same tax and insurance and 60 mpg economy. In the current climate such a car might make sense.

  26. Theres a good reason for those Reliant three wheelers to be no more- they were deathtraps! My Nan’s neighbour and his son were killed in an accident while they were in his Reliant Regal – the understanding was they probably would have survived if they had been in something more substantial. I remember a few years prior to his demise him scrapping another Regal by cutting it up with a saw and leaving it in bags for the binmen! (I don’t know what he did with the engine!) Anyway, I thought the rules changed and you couldn’t get away with driving one on a bike licence anymore?

  27. I was actually looking at one of these yesterday in Peterborough Queensgate Centre. It’s a very cramped, overpriced hairdressers car, plain & simple. The roof design just looks like a crude afterthought, and with them using the standard Bini doors etc, it looks comedically out of proportion & slap sided, with a stupidly sloped windscreen. I’m sorry, but anyone with half a brain would go for the MX5 if they needed a 2 seater droptop

  28. “a three wheeled car that could be run on a bike licence with the same tax and insurance and 60 mpg economy. In the current climate such a car might make sense.”

    You can’t drive them on a bike licence anymore, they’re too heavy to be classed as a Tricyle, i think there is also something about having a reverse gear too. You can still buy ‘heavy quadracycles’ in the form of the G-wiz, Ligier etc, on the continent these can be driven at a lower age and as a quadbike. However we don’t have that category in the UK, there is no benefit to buying one over a proper car. Arguably the g-Wiz etc are far better ‘cars’ than the Reliant was, they have 4 wheels for a start!

    They did build a few 4 wheeled Robins, the fox or something, but they didn’t sell well as at the time you needed a full car licence to drive them, you may as well buy a mini. The reliants did have a cracking little engine though, a very nicely engineered alloy 4 cylinder lump, very willing little engine and not unreliable. Just a shame it powered the plastic pig!

  29. I don’t think sour grapes comes into it really. The fact that it is a raging success (not including stupid coupe) speaks volumes – there must be a lot of hairdressers, estate agents and kebab deliveries going on in this country.

    Bravo that the oxford plant is keeping people in work – that’s the main thing and I would rejoice if every single coupe gets exported so I don’t have to see the prat of car it is. In fact that’s probably what the cynical marketeers have achieved – yours for £20-odd grand my son. ‘Ha ha, you under-endowed kn*bhead springs to mind.

    Can’t wait for the MINI forklift or MINI cherry picker; they have done every other format of the car – so why not?

  30. “MINI forklift or MINI cherry picker”

    Climax did quite well with a range of those as well as powering Racing cars. (joke)

  31. I think the sensible money went on the reintroduced MGTF which at £13,500 IMHO was a bargain as a similar spec’d MGR produced TF at the time of closure sold for very close to £20.000. My experiece of the TF if anyone is interested is that it was bought in August 2009 to date has covered very nearly 37,000 miles, one heater blower switch replaced and the oil temp gauge replaced due to a wayward needle, there have been no issues that has stopped the car from moving normally.

  32. All the talk about Mini being a 1959 design and wouldn’t sell etc…are missing 1 BIG thing, umm, Defender… came out just after ww2 and will be in production until 2017 with the same basic shell and design after almost 70, yes 7-0 years!

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