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Mini Coupe and Roadster 2012 review

Mini coupe and roadster show that over-the-top style can work if it’s done properly.

The latest cars to take the Mini moniker, the Coupe and Roadster, are the first purely two-seaters from the iconic British brand.

Aimed to attract those who desire a two-seat sporting life, they come in Mini Cooper S and Mini John Cooper Works guise.

Engines and performance 

Mini Cooper S is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder motor with twin-scroll turbocharger putting out 135 kW of power at 5500 rpm and 240 m of torque between 1600 and 5000 rpm. An overboost function lifts torque to 260 Nm for a few seconds if you really need everything in acceleration.

The John Cooper Works variants pump out a rip-roaring 155 kW at 6000 rpm and 260 Nm between 1850 and 5600 rpm. Overboost adds a further 20 Nm between 2000 and 5100 rpm for extreme-performance applications. The Mini John Cooper Works version only has a six-speed manual. It uses a clever self-adjusting clutch to ensure the correct pedal feel is maintained over the car’s full service life.

The Mini Cooper S Coupe claims zero-to-100 km/h acceleration in 6.9 seconds in manual form (7.1 sec, auto), with combined urban/highway petrol consumption of 6.3 (6.7) litres per 100 kilometres. The equivalent manual Roadster comes up with 0-100 km/h in 7 seconds (7.2 sec, auto), while using 6.4 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (6.8, auto) when measured to official standards The John Cooper Works does the zero-to-100 km/h sprint in 6.4 seconds for the Coupe and 6.5 in Roadster format.

Design

The dimensions of the Coupe – the two-seater measures 3734 mm (John Cooper Works Coupe 3758 mm) in length, 1683 mm in width and 1384 mm (John Cooper Works Coupe 1385 mm) in height (Roadster 1390 mm and JCW 1391 mm) with a wheelbase of 2467 mm.

Price and equipment 

On sale now, prices range from $45,500 for the Mini Cooper S Roadster and $55,100 for the range-topping John Cooper Works variant, representing a premium of just $2510 and $2500 over the respective Coupes. On top of standard equipment featured on the Cooper S, JCW variants gain 17-inch Cross Spoke Challenge wheels, the John Cooper Works aerodynamic kit, sports suspension, sports stripes and a Harmon Kardon audio.

Efficient aerodynamics see an active rear spoiler integrated for the first time into a Mini boot lid. It pops up automatically when the Coupe hits 80 km/h. At top speed the maker says the wing weighs in with 40 kg of extra downforce. Two rear seats are replaced in both the Mini Coupe and Roadster by a generous luggage shelf that incorporates a larger-than-normal through-shute from the 280-litre Coupe boot (240 litres, Roadster) which can take bulky long objects.

The high-opening boot lid allows bulky items such as sporting gear and weekend-away luggage for two to be loaded easily. The quirky knobs, switches and instruments are straight out of the Mini bin, the centrally situated speedo dial dominating the dashboard with its side-plate size. The speed is duplicated by a digital readout viewed between the upper spokes of the steering wheel, so there is no need for the driver’s eyes to stray too far from the road ahead.

Safety

Occupants are actively protected by anti-skid braking with electronic brake force distribution and dynamic stability control, while driver and passenger front airbags and side head and thorax airbags come into play in the event of a crash. Roadster travellers are also protected in the case of a vehicle flipping by polished stainless steel roll bars, which are padded at the front and incorporate a slot for the wind deflector.

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Driving

The wide stance, together with a stiff (some would say too stiff) sports suspension have the compact cars roller skating ‘round corners, the beautiful balance enhanced by positive steering with excellent feedback. There is some flexing in the Roadster on uneven surfaces and a plastic cargo cover in the back of the Coupe rattled annoyingly during our introductory test drives.

All was forgiven when the engine, especially in the JCW cars, piped up with a Rod Stewart-style rasp under heavy acceleration. A visually striking feature of the Coupe is the sharply raked windscreen (13 degrees more than the Mini Hatch), the arc of which flows rearward forming a low roofline which terminates in an integrated rear spoiler.

The Roadster’s cloth roof is light enough to be lowered using one hand by means of a handle above the windscreen. With the Roadster roof stowed between the cabin and boot there is no reduction in cargo space to that with the roof up. A standard wind deflector behind the occupants helps maintain a relatively quiet and relaxed atmosphere in the cabin. Ambient light only adds to the feel-good surroundings of the Roadster and its twin.

The Mini Coupe cabin roof lining, in a felt material, in contrast to the rest of the surroundings, looks on the cheap side but incorporates oval recesses to increase headroom for the driver and passenger.

The Mini Coupe and Roadster range is:
Mini Cooper S Coupe
Mini Cooper S Roadster
Mini John Cooper Works Coupe
Mini John Cooper Works Roadster

Verdict

The two two-seaters were aimed at buyers across all age brackets, with the Mini Roadster expected to appeal especially to females. The JCW variants would tug at the mature males’ heart strings, was the thought too.

Pricing Guides

$15,999
Based on 11 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$15,555
Highest Price
$19,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Cooper 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $15,555 – 15,999 2012 Mini Coupe 2012 Cooper Pricing and Specs
Cooper S 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,888 – 19,990 2012 Mini Coupe 2012 Cooper S Pricing and Specs
Cooper S JCW 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $19,910 – 25,190 2012 Mini Coupe 2012 Cooper S JCW Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$13,990

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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