The definitive production version of the new compact two-seat Mini Roadster has been spied at the Detroit motor show today. The Roadster is a sister car to the recently introduced Mini Coupé and rival to the Mazda MX-5 and upcoming Citroën DS3 cabriolet.
It will be built at Mini’s Oxford plant and reach UK showrooms in spring 2012, priced from £18,015 for the base Cooper model.
At 3728mm in length, 1638mm in width and 1390mm in height, the Roadster is a scant 3mm shorter, 47mm narrower and 25mm lower than Mini’s existing open-top model, the Cabriolet, on which it is largely based.
Unlike its four-seat open-top sibling, though, Mini’s latest model is a strict two-seater. The space behind the seats is dedicated to extending luggage capacity, as in the Coupé.
The interior adopts the retro-inspired look of existing Mini models, while the new car’s fabric hood features weight-saving manual operation. This multi-layered structure can be lowered from the driver’s seat, folding back behind the seats into a space ahead of a rear liftback.
Mirroring the move taken with the new Coupé, the Roadster will be sold with Mini’s familiar 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in three states of tune. In naturally aspirated guise, it kicks out 121bhp in the Cooper. Twin-scroll turbocharged versions produce 181bhp in the Cooper S and 208bhp in the range-topping John Cooper Works models.
Also available from the start of Roadster sales in the UK will be a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel unit with 141bhp in the Cooper SD. It is claimed to provide 0-62mph in 8.1sec, a 131mph top speed, a combined 62.8mpg and CO2 of just 118g/km, for the manual.
Gearbox choices include a standard six-speed manual on all models. An optional six-speed automatic is also available on all models apart from the John Cooper Works.
Mini is talking up the dynamic properties of the Roadster, suggesting that its lightweight fabric hood provides it with a lower centre of gravity than other models. The steel body structure adopts the same stiffening measures as the Coupé, including a substantial brace at the rear.
With a weight distribution biased towards the front, the new open-top also possesses better traction than earlier Mini models, claim officials.
Customer feedback to the Mini Roadster will help determine where the Mini brand expands. Design chief Anders Warming said: "We have been criticised for straying from the Mini brand values with some of our cars, but if our customers want a type of car, then you might say it fits well with what the modern Mini customer wants."