This is the Mini Roadster, the last hurrah for the current Mini platform, before the all-new Mini family starts to roll out in late 2012.
The Roadster, like its sister Coupe model, is substantially based on the current R56 Mini Cabrio. Both cars will be built at Mini’s Oxford plant, alongside the Cabrio, which is also expected to remain on sale until at least late 2013.
The folding-roofed Roadster is tipped to appear at the Geneva show next March, before going on sale immediately afterwards. The hard-top Mini Coupe will be the first model on sale, however, with an unveiling at the Frankfurt show in the autumn, before going on sale later this year.
Unlike the cabrio, the Roadster and Coupe are strict two-seaters, but will benefit from significantly improved luggage space. Although the car shares its front end and doors with the Mini cabrio, it gets a new windscreen surround, with a much more heavily raked screen. The rear wings and rear elevation are all new and the Roadster and Coupe will be the first Mini models to get an Audi TT-style pop-up rear spoiler.
The Roadster’s simple and lightweight fabric roof will fold flat, sitting behind the front seats and will be exposed to elements, rather than being hidden under a hard cover.
Although information is still sketchy, the Roadster is expected to be available in Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works formats. A diesel model is also likely for European markets, using the new 2.0-litre BMW diesel unit.
The Roadster and Coupe are, however, unlikely to get the upcoming 1.5-litre, twin-scroll turbocharged, three-cylinder engines destined for the new-generation Mini hatch. This new-generation engine has been designed specifically for use in the new-generation Mini platform, which will also underpin the front-drive replacement for the BMW 1-series.Hilton Holloway