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2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Review

Nimble handling and drop-top fun pleased reviewers who drove the 2012 Mini Cooper Roadster, but a stiff suspension and a noisy highway ride detract from its overall appeal.

Pros & Cons

  • Nimble handling
  • Great fuel economy
  • Good cargo space for a convertible
  • Stiff ride
  • Noisy at highway speeds
  • Poor top-up visibility




Critics' Rating: 7.4
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 7.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Overview

The Mini Cooper Roadster comes with a four-cylinder engine, which some test drivers said could use more power. As a result, many suggested the more powerful S and John Cooper Works models, which feature turbocharged four-cylinder engines that deliver more power and quicker acceleration. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, which critics praised for its short, accurate throws. A six-speed automatic transmission was optional when it was new. The 2012 Mini Roadster gets up to 27/35 mpg city/highway, which is significantly better than what most competing 2012 sports cars get. Sports cars are supposed to offer an engaging driving experience, and reviewers said that the 2012 Roadster delivers the go-kart handling that Mini has become famous for. Still, some test drivers noted that the Roadster’s stiff suspension delivers a harsh ride over rough roads.

Critics noted that the 2012 Roadster features a retro-inspired interior design with styling cues that are common to the Mini brand, such as toggle switches on the center stack and a large speedometer that’s located in the center of the dashboard. The Mini Roadster’s interior features mostly hard plastic surfaces, but auto writers said that its interior materials are generally nicer than what you’ll find in most competing 2012 sports cars. However, reviewers wrote that the Roadster’s unlined soft top can make the cabin noisy at highway speeds, especially when compared with the Mini Convertible’s higher-quality soft top. Test drivers reported that the two-seat Roadster’s cabin is a bit narrow, but they pointed out that there’s plenty of head- and legroom. With 8.5 cubic feet of cargo space, the Mini Roadster offers more cargo space than convertibles like the Mazda Miata and Nissan 370Z. A manually retractable soft top is standard on the 2012 Roadster, and some reviewers thought that it is difficult to raise and lower from the driver’s seat. As a result, many recommended choosing a Roadster with the available power-retractable soft top. The 2012 Mini Cooper Roadster comes standard with a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio, a CD player and an auxiliary jack. Available features include heated seats, automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a Harmon Kardon stereo system.

Other Cars to Consider

If you’re looking at the base Roadster, but want a little more power, consider the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Critics agreed that the MX-5's athletic handling and precise steering make the Miata exceptionally fun to drive.

The Nissan 370Z Roadster is significantly more powerful than the top John Cooper Works Roadster, and reviewers loved the 370Z’s athletic handling when it was new. The 370Z also earned praise for its attractive cabin, which is built with upscale materials.

Compare the Roadster, Miata and 370Z »

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