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#10

in Affordable Sports Cars

MSRP: $26,100 - $36,250
Invoice: $24,010 - $33,350
MPG: 27 City / 34 Hwy
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MINI Cooper Roadster Performance

Lightning-fast reflexes, responsive steering and strong brakes characterize the 2015 Mini Roadster’s driving experience, according to reviewers. However, they say a harsh ride is also an ingredient in that mix. When equipped with one of the more powerful turbocharged engines, critics say the Roadster has very lively acceleration.

  • "Like other two-door Coopers, the Roadster also delivers sharp handling, precise steering and available turbocharged engines that provide grin-inducing acceleration." -- Edmunds
  • "Mini Roadsters are zippy, fuel-efficient, immensely nimble vehicles that can also perform surprisingly well on the open highway." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The steering is quick, informative, and accurate; braking is powerful and easy to modulate; shift engagements are precise; and throttle response is instantaneous." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "… the Roadster drives pretty much like any other Mini. Mostly, of course, that's a very good thing." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Mini Cooper Roadster comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 121 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S model has a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Both base and Cooper S models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is optional. According to the EPA, the base 2015 Roadster gets 27/34 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for a sports car, and the Cooper S gets a very similar 26/35 mpg.

The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works Roadster gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Mini says that the JCW Roadster has a top speed of 147 mph and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.

Test drivers report that the base Roadster has adequate power, but they are much more excited about the potent turbocharged engines in the Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims. They love the Cooper S’ strong acceleration and crackling exhaust note. A few critics note that the Mini Cooper S Roadster suffers from a bit of torque steer (an experience that causes the Roadster’s steering to pull the car to one side under hard acceleration), but they say that the extra power is worth the trade-off. Reviewers recommend choosing the manual transmission for its satisfying shifts.

  • "While the base engine is fine for leisurely cruising, the turbocharged engines in the S and JCW models deliver the more satisfying performance and robust acceleration you likely expect in such a sporty-looking car." -- Edmunds
  • "Mini says more than 30 percent of its models are ordered with a manual transmission, and we can see why: They have a splendid one. Short on throws, long on enjoyment, a manual just makes sense in a Mini." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "Turbo lag is not an issue, and this engine gleefully zings the Roadster down urban freeways and rural two-lanes, accompanied by a snarling exhaust note -- and the occasional racy popping through the exhaust on throttle lift-off." --Automobile Magazine (2012 Cooper S)
  • "Pulling out into heavy traffic, you might find yourself fighting some front wheelspin and even torque steer if you need to get aggressive. But we wouldn't trade the oomph for more polish." -- Popular Mechanics (2012 Cooper S)

Handling and Braking

Critics love the 2015 Mini Roadster’s precise steering, agile handling and strong brakes. However, they say it has a rough ride over bumpy pavement, especially when equipped with the available sport-tuned suspension.

  • "Due to a low center of gravity, a rigid body and electric power steering, the MINI Roadster takes twisty roads much like the traditional MINI Cooper does: firmly planted on the ground with quick, responsive steering and very little body roll." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Roadster's ride quality is pretty firm, however, and it can get a bit choppy on rough roads. This is especially true with the sport suspension and larger wheels that come standard on the JCW model and are optional on other versions." -- Edmunds
  • "While many sporty cars can only claim to have go-kart-like handling, the Roadster delivers on the promise: the short wheelbase ensures extremely rapid direction changes, the steering is quick and communicative and the chassis provides a good ride and handling compromise." -- Left Lane News (2014)
  • "Mini has done a laudable job of adding structural rigidity to compensate for removing the roof in the Roadster. But doing that has made it heavier than the Coupe, and some chassis quiver remains on bumpy roads." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
Review Last Updated: 12/4/14

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