Spontaneous, open, irresistible The MINI Roadster North American Auto Show
The driving fun sewn into the fabric of every MINI never fails to bring a smile to the face. And now it can also be enjoyed – with the roof up or down – in the first model from the brand designed strictly for two people.
The MINI Roadster, which will be presented to the global public for the first time at the NAIAS 2012 in Detroit as the sixth model in the British premium carmaker’s current line-up, gives the small car segment another innovative shot in the arm.
The typically MINI interpretation of a compact roadster embodies unadulterated sportiness and spontaneous urban driving fun under the open sky. Powerful engines and sophisticated chassis technology see to it that the characteristic MINI go-kart feeling is always on tap. And the MINI Roadster’s classical soft-top roof, which can be easily opened and closed manually, ensures that open-top driving pleasure can be lapped up at every opportunity.
The faithful reproduction of the hallmark MINI design language within the proportions of a roadster gives the first open-top two-seater in the history of MINI an unmistakable and irresistible charisma. Even with the roof closed, the MINI Roadster displays an elegant, sweeping silhouette. This layout encompasses a clear visual separation of the car’s boot (capacity: 240 litres) from the passenger compartment, while a wide through-loading system behind the seats enhances practicality.
The MINI Roadster will be available with a choice of three powerful and efficient petrol engines when it is launched in the US market. The model line-up will range from the MINI Cooper Roadster (121 hp) via the MINI Cooper S Roadster (181 hp) to the sharpest performer of all, the 208 hp MINI John Cooper Works Roadster.
A quality of chassis technology unparalleled in the small car segment, including Electric Power Steering and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), combines with the torsionally rigid body (complete with special strengthening elements) and the car’s lower centre of gravity to deliver addictive agility and unbeatable active and passive safety.
Meanwhile, front and head-thorax airbags, an extremely rigid windscreen frame and polished stainless steel roll-over bars fixed to the body join forces in the name of occupant protection. The aerodynamic balance of the MINI Roadster is optimised by an active rear spoiler.
Spontaneous, open, irresistible: The MINI Roadster underlines its premium character with a high-quality range of standard equipment, including air conditioning, speed-sensitive steering assistance, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, Always Open Timer, height-adjustable seats and an audio system with MP3-compatible CD player and AUX-IN connection. Levels of comfort and individuality can be further enhanced by specifying attractive options such as Park Distance Control, xenon Adaptive Headlights, black headlight housing and Comfort Access. And the MINI Roadster also offers in-car use of innovative MINI Connected infotainment and communications functions. The roadster, MINI-style: unique and unmistakable. The MINI Roadster is not only the sole premium model of its kind in the small car segment, it also ranks as the only open-top two-seater in the brand’s history. The principles of the MINI design language are faithfully reflected in the body design of the new concept.
For example, the athletically taut surfaces, harmonious curves and parallel lines typical of MINI cars are complemented by a sloping windscreen frame raked by an extra 13 degrees over the MINI Convertible, a short passenger compartment distilled around two seats, and a flat boot lid. A waistline rising up slightly along the length of the body to the clearly stepped boot and the deliberately low-slung silhouette – even with the roof closed – give the MINI Roadster an elegantly stretched appearance. At the same time, the new model wears its brand identity on its sleeve thanks to unmistakable design features like the hexagonal contours of its radiator grille, the black border around the lower part of the body, chrome trim strips and surrounds, large circular headlights, vertically stacked rear lights positioned on the outer extremes of the rear end, and the eye-catching surrounds of the side indicators on the front side panels.
With an exterior length of 3,728 millimetres (MINI Cooper S Roadster: 3,734 millimetres, MINI John Cooper Works Roadster: 3,758 millimetres), wheelbase of 2,467 millimetres and width of 11,683 millimetres, the dimensions of the MINI Roadster largely mirror those of the MINI Convertible. Standing just 1,384 millimetres tall (MINI Cooper S Roadster: 1,390 millimetres, MINI John Cooper Works Roadster: 1,391millimetres), i.e. more than 20 millimetres lower than its four-seater soft-top stablemate, the new two-seater cuts a distinctive, low-slung and elegantly stretched figure from the side. Clean, classic, opens and closes with the flick of a wrist: the manually operated soft-top roof.
Another example of the faithful transposition of MINI design into the compact roadster template comes in the form of the robust, all-season durability of the soft-top roof. When closed, the roof – which shares the simple style of classic British roadsters – “cascades” downwards, broadening as it heads towards the body. When opened, the roof folds down flat behind the seats, keeping the car’s elegantly sweeping lines intact.
The roof is opened by turning the release lever on the windscreen frame though 130 degrees and swivelling the soft-top back in a single movement behind the seats, where it locks into place. The process for closing the roof again is triggered by pressing a button positioned between the roll-over bars, which allows the roof to extend back out of its anchorage points, assisted by gas-pressure springs. It can then be pulled forward with the help of the release lever and fixed in place again against the windscreen frame. Bespoke range of exterior paint finishes, Sport Stripes and interior design elements offer the key to individuality.
A range of two non-metallic and six metallic paint shades are available for the exterior of the MINI Roadster. 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. The light-alloy wheels fitted as standard on the MINI Roadster come in 15, 16 or 17-inch formats, depending on the model variant. A selection of other light-alloy wheels are available as an option in the same sizes. The customary MINI variety of seat and upholstery variants includes ultra-exclusive piped sports seats in the colour shade Toffy. Plus, six different trim element variants are available, as well as five Colour Lines. Customers may also likewise choose to explore the additional, extremely exclusive interior design options offered by the MINI Yours range.
A well-rounded concept delivering driving fun without compromises. The absence of a rear seat bench allows the MINI Roadster to offer 240 litres of luggage space. Plus, the high-opening tailgate and low boot sill makes it that much easier to load up items of luggage, while a 36-cm-wide (14 in.) and 20-cm-high (approx. 8 in.) through-loading system that can also be opened from the driver’s or passenger’s seat provides added versatility.
The MINI Roadster also comes with larger door bins, three cupholders, and a cross-rack behind the seats. Another stand-out feature of the MINI Roadster is the stainless steel roll-over bars, the front of which are padded. Together with the reinforced windscreen frame, they provide optimised occupant protection in the event of the car turning over. The safety equipment on board the new MINI Roadster also includes front airbags and head-thorax airbags, three-point inertia-reel seat belts including belt force limiters and belt tensioners, and a Tyre Defect Indicator.
Bodyshell stiffening at the rear increases the torsional rigidity of the body and combines with extra-sturdy side sills to enhance the strength of the passenger cell. In addition, the MINI Roadster also features built-in innovative pedestrian protection measures and special stiffening elements in the front section. These result in a slightly higher front axle load rating compared with the MINI, which gives the front wheels extra traction. The impressive body rigidity of the MINI Roadster and its dynamically favourable weight distribution provide the ideal platform for agile and precise handling. Optimised aerodynamic properties also play their role in a vehicle concept geared to enjoying driving fun to the full.
The heavily raked A-pillars and windscreen reduce the frontal area of the body and therefore levels of drag. Added to which, the MINI Roadster is fitted with an active rear spoiler. Integrated into the tailgate, the spoiler extends automatically as soon as the MINI Roadster reaches 80 km/h (50 mph). Airflow has been optimised to an even greater degree on the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster. The most powerful member of the Roadster line-up is fitted with a John Cooper Works aerodynamic kit as standard in a nod to its exceptionally dynamic performance capability.
Latest-generation four-cylinder engines: addictive sportiness, impressive efficiency. The MINI Roadster is available with a choice of three petrol engines. The state-of-the-art units all boast sporty power delivery combined with exemplary efficiency, and all variants of the MINI Roadster carry the Cooper name in their model titles. This reference to legendary ex-Formula One racing car designer John Cooper, who used to race the classic Mini, marks out a car with particular sporting capability.
The MINI Cooper Roadster represents an extremely lively entry point into the Roadster line-up. Its 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine boasts a fully variable valve control system – based on the VALVETRONIC technology used in BMW engines – which sharpens the engine’s responses, yet also lowers fuel consumption and emissions. With output rising to 121 hp at 6,000 rpm and maximum torque of 114 lb-ft (160 Newton metres) generated at 4,250 rpm, the powerplant accelerates the MINI Cooper Roadster from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds (0–100 km/h: 9.4 seconds) and on to a top speed of 124 mph (199 km/h). Its average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle stands at 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres (49.6 mpg imp), while CO2 emissions come in at 133 grams per kilometre. In addition to fully variable valve control, MINI TwinPower Turbo technology also features a twin-scroll turbocharger and petrol direct injection – a technology package that makes the 1.6-litre engine in the MINI Cooper S Roadster the world’s most efficient in its displacement class. The powerplant develops its maximum output of 181 hp at 5,500 rpm. Peak torque of 177 lb-ft (240 Newton metres) is available as low down as 1,600 rpm and can hit 192 lb-ft (260 Newton metres) in a short burst courtesy of the Overboost function.
All of which means the MINI Cooper S Roadster powers from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds (0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds) on the way to a top speed of 141 mph (227 km/h). These performance figures contrast with average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres (47.1 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 139 grams per kilometre. The latest model variant from MINI’s John Cooper Works sub-brand showcases its sporting potential with even greater intent.
The MINI John Cooper Works Roadster is powered by a 208 hp four-cylinder engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo technology. The 1.6-litre unit generates its maximum output at 6,000 rpm, with peak torque of 192 lb-ft (260 Newton metres) on stream at 1,850 rpm. The Overboost function briefly pushes this figure up to 207 lb-ft (280 Newton metres). 6.3 seconds is all it takes the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster to blast from 0 to 60 mph (0-100 km/h: 6.6 seconds). Top speed is 147 mph (237 km/h). Added to which, with average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres (38.7 mpg imp) and CO2 emissions of 169 grams per kilometre, the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster boasts extraordinary efficiency for an open-top car in this output class.
The MINI Cooper Roadster and MINI Cooper S Roadster can also be specified with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox with Steptronic function as an alternative to the six-speed manual item fitted as standard across the MINI Roadster range. Agile, precise, stable: go-kart feeling in a roadster wrapping. Teaming up with the powerful engines and customary MINI front-wheel drive, chassis technology of a quality unparalleled in the small car segment imbues the MINI Roadster with the brand’s hallmark driving fun. MacPherson struts at the front axle, a multi-link rear axle, Electric Power Steering with speed-sensitive assistance, powerful brakes offering excellent feel, and bespoke tuning for all chassis components come together to produce a new interpretation of the time-honoured MINI go-kart feeling.
A Sport Button on the centre console, standard in the case of the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster and optionally available for all other model versions, 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. The standard-fitted DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) uses brake inputs and reductions in engine output to prevent a front or rear-end slide.
The system includes ABS anti-lock braking, EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control), Brake Assist and Hill Start Assistant. DSC also adds DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) with EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock Control) for the driven axle as standard on the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster and as an option on all other model variants. MINI Roadster: premium two-seater with high-quality standard equipment and exclusive options.
The interior of the MINI Roadster features – in typical brand style – a large Centre Speedo and a rev counter positioned directly behind the steering wheel. Standard specification also includes air conditioning, Always Open Timer, height-adjustable seats and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors. The comfort and individuality of the MINI Roadster can be further enhanced with items from the range of high-quality options, some unique in the small car segment. For example, Adaptive Headlights and black headlight housing are available in conjunction with the optional xenon headlights. Among the other options customers can choose from are Comfort Access, an on-board computer, a multifunction steering wheel, automatic climate control, heated seats, Park Distance Control, automatically dimming rear-view mirror and exterior mirrors, an armrest, the storage package, and preparation for a rear luggage carrier rack. Only from MINI Connected: innovative entertainment and communications functions. The MINI Roadster comes as standard with the radio MINI CD audio system, while an extra dose of entertainment pleasure can be specified in the form of the Harman Kardon hi-fi loudspeaker system and USB audio interface.
The radio MINI Visual Boost and MINI navigation system link up with a 6.5-inch, high-resolution colour display in the Centre Speedo. If these options are specified, MINI Connected allows Apple iPhone owners access to internet-based services inside the car. The MINI Connected App opens the door to a web radio function, use of Google services, Facebook and Twitter, reception of RSS news feeds, integration of Pandora radio, the MINIMALISM Analyser, Mission Control and Dynamic Music functions, as well as the latest Driving Excitement functions, such as Condition Check, Force Meter and digital sports instruments.