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Filed under: Convertible, Mini, First Drives

Attractive New Roadster Prepares To Cannibalize Convertible

For a brand that's only about 11 years old (since its modern rebirth, anyway), Mini is doing quite well for itself. Since the launch of the 2001 Mini Cooper, the BMW-owned automaker has now sold over two million vehicles in 100 markets, and over the course of the past decade, has expanded one front-wheel-drive platform into six models with a grand total of 39 different variants. The fact that Mini has hit the big time is in no way breaking news.

What's really interesting is how each new model continues to be supported and loved by the Mini faithful. Perhaps the most controversial addition came in 2010, when Mini first debuted its bigger, four-door Countryman - the most un-mini Mini. Now, though, it has grown to account for 30 percent of the brand's sales here in the United States, perfectly coexisting with its Hardtop, Convertible and Clubman brethren. Nicely done.

But this story isn't all loveliness and perfection: Enter the Mini Coupe, a car that we can't quite give our seal of approval. It's heavier than the iconic Hardtop, less functional, more expensive and frankly, less attractive. Sure, it stands true to the brand's core values of fun, tossable driving dynamics and cheeky style, but at the end of the day, we don't downright love it like we do the other models.

Now meet the Roadster. Immediate comparisons to the Coupe are indeed warranted (we'll get to that), but if any car in the Mini portfolio should be worried, it's the Convertible. The Roadster is less expensive than the aging Convertible, looks better (arguably) and has a more capacious boot. No, this new Roadster doesn't seat four, but then again, the Convertible doesn't exactly do a fantastic job of that, either. And after driving the new Mini Roadster along the sunny Portuguese coast, our impression is that this sixth Cooper variant isn't so much another niche product for a niche manufacturer, it's instead a better droptop than the current Cooper Convertible.Continue reading 2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster

2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Feb 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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