19 July 2012, under
Car / Travel; More Car / Travel articles...
Mini - bootspace
Mini - exterior
Mini - interior
SEXY SOFT TOP FROM MINI
Even with the kind of weather we typically get in Ireland, there's still something sexy about a soft-top roadster. If we don't get the chance to have the roof down so much, it's the possibility that allures.
In their quest to extend the Mini range to its widest, BMW has pushed out the envelope in a number of ways. Countryman, Coupe, there's an SUV coming up the track. And this Roadster is the soft-top version of the cute little Coupe.
Like the Coupe, this is a 2-seater. Not to be mistaken for the Convertible, which has four people spaces, but nothing like the character.
Running through the basics. Well, the platform is basic Mini. The general exterior style is too. Some detail cosmetics ring changes from the standard hatch and its siblings. But its origins are unmistakable.
Inside too, the dashboard, instruments, and low seated position is what any of us who have driven modern Minis are familiar with.
There's no back seat, of course. But there's a bit of space behind to throw a jacket and shoulderbag. And there's quite ample room for real sized people in the two seats up front.
The massive speedometer in the middle of the dashboard harks back to the original of the 1950s, but is absolutely useless to look at and really needs to be dropped now. The essential speed and revs information is best monitored on the little pod mounted on the steering column.
There are no electronics in the folding roof on the lower grades. A simple handle unlocks the thing, and you get out of the car to fold it back. On the JCW flagship model, that last part is electrically operated. The good thing about it is there's no interference with boot space, which remains a healthy enough 240 litres.
Under the bonnet of the review car is the top of the Mini range John Cooper Works engine. This is a superb piece of powerplant engineering, the 1.6 turbocharged petrol unit pumping out 211hp. In this size of car, that offers a very fast 6.5 seconds to 100km/h. We're in Porsche territory there.
There are downsides, of course. Fuel consumption comes in at 38mpg. Which in fact isn't at all bad, given the fun factor, but is high for this size of car these days. You'll pay a little more in Road Tax too, around twice what it costs for the standard Band B version of the car.
But it really is a fun car to drive. The basic handling is very good, thanks to the wheels on the corners design, and is stepped up to cope with the extra potential in the JCW. On back roads, the stiffer shocks make themselves evident, but on the highway the ride is fine. The JCW also provides a 'sport button' which provides a faster and louder response in engine matters.
So, will it sell in Ireland. I suspect not in great numbers, but it really is a good halo model for the whole range. You can get a Mini Roadster from something over €25,000, but this particular version is up in the stratosphere at more than €38,000.
Not for the faint-hearted, or stretched-thin Irish wallets these days. But I've certainly enjoyed it.
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