Friday, August 10, 2012

Fire up the... MINI Cooper S Roadster

DID the Great British Summer end ages ago or is yet to begin? Thanks to heatwaves, floods, droughts, downpours and landslides, I doubt anyone's really sure.

One thing, however, continues unabated during the country' greener months - our unusually optimistic take on it all, probably best expressed automotively through our generations of small and not-at-all-leaky sports cars. It's a mantle MINI's keen to take on with their latest addition to the small car family, a two-seater ragtop roadster aimed at the keen driver.

Posing's a big part of what sporty cars like this are all about and on this front it's usual MINI fare, with a short, stubby stylishness on the outside and lots of chunky rocker switches on the inside. To my mind it looks better than its tintop sister, the MINI Coupe, because it swaps that car's hideous baseball hat roof for neat, electrically-powered soft top that's a doddle to operate.

It's also a doddle to drive and as keen to attack corners as the rest of its MINI sisters, although I can't help feeling that if it's driving fun you're after than the 2.0 litre version of Mazda's MX-5 will offer you more thrills for the same sort of money as the Cooper S version's £19,000 asking price. That said, the rear-wheel-drive roadster can't compete with the MINI on looks or interior ambience.

Ironically, the MINI Roadster's biggest rival in my books comes from within, in the larger and more familiar shape of the MINI Cabriolet. No, the Cabriolet can't offer the same sharpness in the corners but it's still an absolute joy to drive, and it offers space for four and a bit more space for your bags. If I wanted a sports car I'd go for that infernal Mazda, but if I wanted an open-top MINI, hand on heart, I'd go for the Cabriolet.

That said, if your heart's set on enjoying the added aesthetics and agility of the MINI Roadster during what's left of summer, you won't be disappointed.

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