After the huge success of our Holiday Rally, we didn’t think the month could get much better….until we found out we would get one last nice “little” gift to put under our tree….a visit from the MINI Roadster!
A pre-production MINI Roadster paid a visit to us for just one day, on the day after christmas, to give us all a taste of what the Roadster will be like when it goes on sale in February.
Needless to say…we were impressed.
For many of us, the MINI Roadster is the convertible that many of us have been waiting for. Sleek and Sporty, with no backseat and a manually operated soft top, this is most “back to basics” that MINI has ever offered. And with the weight of the automatic top now gone, the car now has a nice and low center of gravity….which should give this MINI the most go-kart feeling yet!
This pre-production model was dressed in Midnight Black and JCW black painted rims…a favorite combination of mine for sure. The car, a John Cooper Works model, featured a manual transmission (a must in my mind), and all the normal trim a MINI Cooper JCW would provide. What surprised me most is that even with the top up, the Roadster actually had more head room than any other MINI. Those with longer legs, like myself, will appreciate the little bit extra leg room this new MINI provides. It killed me not to be able to take this little roadster out for a spin, because it just felt like the perfect MINI.
What interested most of us here at the dealership was the operation of the manual soft top. This is the first manual top ever on a MINI, and we were hoping it would not be too hard to put the top up or down.
The top of this MINI can be taken down with the flick of the wrist, instead of a push of the button like in a normal MINI convertible with an automatic top. Thankfully, the Roadster is made with the same lightweight material as the original MINI convertible, and most should really have no trouble moving the top around once it is unhinged from the windshield frame.
The top can literally be put down in seconds. All it takes is a 130 degree turn of the wrist on a handle that sits on the windshield frame, and the top snaps free. At that point the top can just be swiveled into a nice folded stack right behind the rear seats. And, since the top of the convertible stays pointed up when folded, there is no need for an extra cover. To put the top back up again, one would just need to push a large button behind the back seats to pop the top free. Although it does take a little practice, overall I found the top to be very easy to put up and down.
There are plans to have a semi automatic option available sometime late summer.
All of us at MINI of Concord are very excited to start getting our first Roadsters sometime in February. The Roadster is one of those back to basic cars with nothing you don’t need, and we can’t wait to drive it.
We will post a more detailed review of the Roadster once we get our Demo Model in the coming weeks.