From the purist’s point of view, it’s a little too easy to dismiss the Mini Roadster.

Why? Because, in our eyes at least, the similar-priced and dynamically peachy Mazda MX-5 simply towers above it in the desirability stakes.

The Audi TT gets our nod ahead of the Roadster

However, in a number of important ways it is more than a match for the Mazda. The Mini is the newer car and looks rather novel. It is also better finished, well equipped, much better appointed and far quicker in the real world. 

But it feels contrived next to the handling perfection of the Mazda. The car’s darting agility seems artificial and overbearing at times – a piece of engineering sleight of hand rather than one component part of a balanced dynamic repertoire.

The Mini Roadster is fun to drive in its own way and a thoroughly impressive product in broad terms, but it’s mainly because of a dearth of really sporting, affordable, mass-market two-seaters that it places second in our class top five.