Carmakers usually think that if they have a hit with one or two cars, they can spin off a dozen more and the fish will continue to bite. To change the metaphor, it’s like too many flavors in an ice cream shop.
In fact, if you go to the MINIUSA website and click Models, it states, “every flavor except vanilla.”
All their many confusing Cooper-labeled cars—Hardtop (hatchback), Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, and now the Roadster (the Roadster hasn’t arrived at the website yet)—come in at least three different trims, with prices beginning in the low $20s and running to $52K for the limited-edition Cooper S Hardtop.
With each new version, the company (BMW) seems to move further from the original Alec Issigonis-John Cooper concept, which really irks some people (see first comment here). The new Roadster (above) is no exception, but perhaps it will finally achieve a purity on its own. The car looks right and finally gives real competition to the Miata, which is getting long in the tooth.
The Roadster is basically a reworked Coupe with a manual soft top. The U.S. will get three engine choices: the standard 1.6-liter with 121 hp, a turbo version of that engine in the Cooper S Roadster (181 hp), and the full-bore John Cooper Works Roadster with 208 hp and an overboost to give you, momentarily, 207 lb-ft of torque.
If I were a little younger and had at least $35 grand to burn, this one would be a real tempter. TopGear, which is always offering questionable opinions, says the Roadster has, quoting MINI, “a ‘full-blooded go-kart feeling’ with a bespoke chassis setup.” Others concur.
The JCW Roadster in England costs £24,850, or close to $40K U.S. Our prices may be a little less.
Is MINI burning itself out with too many models, trims and choices? We hear the company just posted record sales, up 16 percent over last year.