2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster – First Drive Review

Remember the old joke about how to lose 10 ugly pounds? Right, cut off your head. Here’s an automotive sequel. Although this car didn’t lose weight when its football-helmet coupe top was lopped off—it’s actually about 90 pounds heavier than its hard-shelled sibling—it definitely lost a lot of ugly.

Is ugly a little strong for the Mini coupe? Perhaps, but the topless version makes an invidious contrast, and its softtop looks more natural than the coupe’s fixed roof. And with the top down and the pop-up rear wing deployed (at 50 mph), the roadster becomes a chunky little bulldog of a sports car with a level of c’mon-let’s-play appeal that’s hard to resist.

With a price range of $25,050 to $35,200, exclusive of the myriad options, the roadsters—in Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works strengths—are second only to the convertibles in price among members of the steadily expanding Mini family. But they’re at the low end of the droptop sporty-car milieu. Only Mazda’s evergreen Miata is less expensive, and the next tier of roadsters—the Audi TT, the BMW Z4, the Porsche Boxster—begins revving up at well over $40,000.

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