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2015 MINI Roadster Overview

Want to impress your date/husband/wife with a 2-seat, 2-door Euro-styled drop-top? Take a look at MINI’s 2015 Cooper Roadster. But do it soon, because the Roadster, along with its Paceman and Coupe cousins, are slated to be phased out, victims of BMW-owned MINI’s recently announced plans to focus on quality rather than quantity. Therefore, those above-mentioned sacrifices are expected to bolster the reliability of what MINI/BMW claims are its “principles,” which presently encompasses the Cooper Hardtop, the Cooper Convertible and the jumbo-size (comparatively) MINI Countryman. Meanwhile, a whole new MINI sport convertible, slated to combine the positives in the Roadster and the Coupe, is in the works and is expected offer a direct challenge to, for example, Mazda’s MX-5 Miata convertible.

Anyhow, the 2015 Roadster will again be offered in 3 trims, the entry-level Base, the midlevel S and the flagship John Cooper Works, with the latter termed the JCW from here on. All trims only come in front-wheel drive (FWD), and all are scheduled to receive standard rain-sensing wipers and standard auto climate control as upgrades for the upcoming model year, while cargo/trunk space remains a paltry 8.5 cubic feet with the top up or down.

The basic powerplant, returning once again in the MINI Base, is a normally aspirated 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) that mates with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or the available 6-speed shiftable automatic gearbox to put out 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. Neck-snapping acceleration is not this 4-banger’s forte but, at 28 mpg city/35 highway in stick-shift-stacked variants and 27/35 in automatic-toting trims, fuel efficiency is.

Need more speed? The MINI Roadster S packs a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter I4, and bearing either the standard 6-speed stick-shift or the 6-speed shiftable automatic will pound out 189 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. And mileage numbers aren’t all that bad at 26/35 using either transmission.

Taking this turbocharged 1.6-liter I4 a step further, the JCW sends 218 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque to the pavement, again using either the 6-speed manual or the 6-speed shiftable automatic. Mileage out of the JCW’s turbocharged I4, meanwhile, reflects that of its S sibling.

Standard appearance, comfort and convenience bling in the various Roadster iterations includes, besides the new perks mentioned above, 16-inch alloy wheels (17-inch in the JCW) mounting run-flat tires, a power open/close convertible top, leatherette upholstery and full power accessories. Cruise control and telescoping tilt-wheel steering also return for 2015, as do Bluetooth hands-free technology and a cooled storage compartment, not to mention a single-CD player boasting 6 speakers, HD radio and an auxiliary audio input (USB port).

Higher trims additionally feature standard sport front seats and the expected interior and exterior accent upgrades, with the JCW tossing in a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo front brakes, cloth upholstery and an aerodynamics kit.

The traditional plethora of options choices, mostly in package form, also returns to bolster the 2015 Roadster lineup and include such available toys as keyless entry/ignition, rear parking sensors, heated seats, satellite radio and leather upholstery. The MINI Connected infotainment system also remains available to all variations and again boasts Smartphone apps and a 6.5-inch display that interfaces with audio functions, as well as with an optional GPS navigation suite. Although this techno-goody performs well enough, it still requires you to pull over in order to safely access a number of programs.

Oh, and besides offering an available Harman Kardon premium 10-speaker Surround Sound system, the Roadster returns with MINI’s traditional array of interior and exterior color and customization selections.

To finish, standard safety equipment found on board this 2-seat MINI includes 4-wheel antilock braking (ABS), stability control and traction control, again with the option of available Dynamic Traction Control. Roll bars and side-mounted airbags with head protection chambers of course return standard in all trims, as does a post-collision safety system. The Roadster S and JCW each offer standard front fog/driving lights, while adaptive xenon headlights and a remote antitheft alarm again remain optional for all 3 Roadster variants.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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