Jun 14, 2013
Reviewed By Chad Tyson
Price as Tested $35,345; 181-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged I4; 6-sp auto; FWD

Fantastic go-kart handling. Driving through the twisties in Sport mode is where you’ll find the biggest smiles. The popping and crackling during deceleration in Sport mode is amusing. With the top down, the roadster is quite the looker. Inside, the seat can be moved to accomodate drivers short and tall.

The pass-through from cargo to cabin is really handy when you need to bring a shovel home after impromptu visits to Home Depot.


Appearance with the top closed — it’s neither elegant nor cohesive. That’s because the roadster is based on the goofy two-seater coupe, so it was never going to be attractive. The windshield frame height is perfectly placed to block the view of traffic lights — you’re either looking under it or over it. 

Open Minis like this one feature the “Openometer,” the single most useless standard feature ever put on a modern car. It tells you how long the top has been down. That’s it.

Retail jumps from $28,550 to $35,345 with just six options and the destination charge. (I have to pay Mini $1,250 more for a less-fun car with the automatic?)


This car’s appearance isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t matter what it looks like once you’re behind the wheel. Accelerating and cornering will delight, and commuting is comfortable. The Boot to Bonnet No-Cost Maintenance Program is a good selling point with $0 cost for all factory-recommended services up to three years or 36,000 miles. And it helps those five-year cost-to-own equations.

Fiat’s 500c Abarth is a primary competitor to the Cooper S roadster, but the Fiat presents the illusion of back seats and a less usable trunk. The Mini starts at a higher base price ($28,550 VS $26,000 for the 500c), but you get more power (181 hp VS 160 hp) and higher fuel capacity (13.2 gallons VS 10.5 gallons). Drive them both before you buy. While you’re at it, throw in test drives of the MX-5 and the regular Mini convertible for good measure.

Fun to Drive
4.5 rating
Fun to Look at
3.0 rating
Overall Experience
4.0 rating
EPA Mileage 26 city/34 highway

For more about this car, please visit the manufacturer's website.