The Mini has been a popular car for decades and the new Roadster looks as though it will continue in that vein.
Minis have often been viewed as a fun to drive car and the Roadster is no exception. This two seater has been designed to rival the Audi TT Roadster and the Mazda MX5. The roof folds away in a mere 10 seconds and the larger boot has 240 litres of storage space.
As with other convertible cars the chassis is stiff which makes the handling a lot easier. Performance is certainly where BMW has its focus and the Roadster is only available as a Cooper model. Gearbox options are manual or automatic and both are six speed. The top of the range JCW model offers even better performance but you have to fork out quite a lot more for the privilege.
All the engines offered by BMW are smooth and powerful and the JCW model has the Sport mode which makes the model sound like a racing car between gear changes. Responsive steering with good grip and little body roll also makes this car fun to drive as well as a comfortable ride. An unusual feature is the automatic wing which pops up when speeds over 50 mph are reached. This then retracts when you drop to below 37 mph.
The new Roadster has dropped any pretensions of being practical and this has had the effect of making it a better rounded car. There are two sports seats with lots of space for driver and passenger. Each model has a DAB radio with bluetooth connection, air con and sensors for parking.
Firm suspension gives firm handling and this leads to a bumpy ride on rough roads. Just what you would expect from a small Roadster. No one expects a two seater soft top to be quiet and the Mini has a fair amount of noise from both the wind and the road.
What you do get though is BMW build and this means reliability and quality. The Mini Roadster acquired a top rating of five stars in road safety tests and each model has ABS brakes, traction control and pre-tensioning seatbelts.
Minis are never cheap but entry level prices are around those of the Mazda MX5 and lower than the equivalent Audi. The Mini has always held its value and this one should do the same. BMW are offering pre paid contracts for servicing which should help to lower running costs.
The Mini Cooper SD diesel will return 62.8 mpg and has very low emissions. Even the petrol Mini Cooper S can give 47.1 mpg. However, opting for an automatic transmission reduces these figures quite considerably.
The Mini Roadster is a fun to drive car and it will retain its resale value if well looked after. The latest model is an upgraded version of that launched in 2011 and the set of mats that fit the Roadster remains the same pattern as those we previously produced. The set has two front mats and the car now has two velcro BMW fittings so fixings sleeves are not fitted, which can be an safety issue if the mats slip whilst driving.
Written by Arthur Wilson, freelance auto journalist for My Car Mats.