• Mar 15, 2010

MINI Roadster Concept - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Just because a company starts out Mini it doesn't necessarily mean it can't get even smaller. That seems to be the case with BMW's more affordable UK outpost. Mini USA vice president Jim McDowell spoke at the recent Geneva Motor Show about some of the brand's upcoming plans. Although the current lineup is powered by a range of 1.6-liter inline-four cylinder engines, new challengers like the Audi A1 are going with even smaller engines, and it sounds like Mini is set to follow suit.

This spring, European-market Mini models are slated to receive engine upgrades including BMW's Valvetronic system and direct injection for improved output, along with reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Those same improvements will be added to North American market Minis this fall in the company's 2011 models. The next round of upgrades will see smaller displacement engines coming along with dual clutch transmissions.

McDowell also hinted that the upcoming roadster and coupe variants are just the beginning, with more performance oriented models on the way. Even before that, McDowell expects the two seat Minis to be the first roadsters to grab a significant chunk of the affordable sports car market from the long dominant Mazda MX-5.

We love the Mini range, and we're eager to judge of whether a front-wheel car can really challenge the rear-drive MX-5, undoubtedly one of the best roadsters of all time.



[Source: AutoGuide]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uhh, you seem to have forgot that the Pontiac Solstice alone outsold the MX-5 in 2006, combined sales for the twin cars always beat the MX-5 before the economy tanked and GM started hinting it would be a dead model.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2006/12/14/solstice-beats-miata-in-sales-for-2006/
        • 4 Years Ago
        It may have beat the Miata in sales, but I never once read a head-to-head in a car review where the Solstice came out on top. In fact, the Miata invariably trounced it.

        The Sky/Soltice was a very nice-looking car though, I'll give it that!
      • 4 Years Ago
      While I'm not sure about the roadster, I know one area where the Mini excels far past the Miata. Leg room.

      The Miata's tiny interior alone rules it out for many people my height.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Driven one of the new ones lately? I'm 6'1" and swore it would never fit me (the originals were too small). I fit with room to spare and my 6'3" brother had not problems in the passenger seat. It's certainly small but not "won't fit me" small.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hopefully Mini will also release these little guys with the ALL4 system, then I would be really interested in one thats for sure. I wonder if Mazda will get the memo and add Direct Injection to the MX-5 that would be a welcom addition on my mind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why do you want an All4 system in a MINI (Countryman-excepted)? Don't you realize how little ground-clearance there is on a MINI? Add several inches of snow and traction becomes the least of your worries. Ripping your front fascia off is the big worry. I have one -- I know!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think Mini is drinking a bit too much of the kool-aid. I'll give the Mini and all its variants the respect they are due but they have a long way to go before they are a seriously credible contender to the MX-5. They need a serious diet in both weight and cost (MX5: 2480lbs $23,560 vs. Cooper S Convertible: 2855lbs $27,850) and a RWD architecture needs to be in order.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Looking at the specs, the Mini hatch is faster, even on a race track. I just looked back at Car & Drivers lightning lap times, they said the Mini S was 7 seconds faster on their track than the Miata. The fwd setup is never going to be as pure or as nice as the Miatas rwd, but those Coopers are pretty capable. For a roadster I would probably go Miata, but that new Mini coupe looks pretty cool. I really wish Mazda would offer a factory turbo option, a little more power would be nice.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The cooper S convertible is a 4-seater. Take two seats out and adjust the size of the car accordingly, and a Mini roadster would be much closer to the miata's weight.
      • 4 Years Ago
      MINI Coopers are fun cars, but they need to go on a serious diet
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they can fix the ridiculous torque-steer while they're at it too.

      If the alignment is even slightly out of line, it's gets really really fun, not.

      Talk about under developed engineering..........
        • 4 Years Ago
        i have heard that the steering on the mini can find a rut and just turn on you, takes a while to get used to
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love my 2003 Miata (shinsen version). Bought for just a shade over $21,000 out the door. Holds all my groceries and stuff, although living in chicago area it gets garaged over the winter and now that I'm dating a girl with a daughter it makes it impractical to drive when we have her, but the RWD and 2-seconds to manually drop the top or put it back over my head, plus less cost puts it wayyyyy ahead of the mini. My Honda CR-V does everything else. The Miata is more enthusiast driven IMO and most I know is not their primary vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am curious to see if Mini goes two seater and smaller to make room for the upcoming FWD BMW?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure the there may be potential customers that would put a Mini roadster and the MX-5 on common lists, but the attraction of the Miata for me has always been light weight and rear-wheel drive. So long as the Mini is a puller, I will have no interest at all. In modest performers such as these, it's less about numbers and more about feel, communication, and feedback. It's hard to beat the excellent subjective qualities of the Mazda.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, the Mini Roadster is more like a Honda del Sol than a Miata. I agree that enthusiasts wouldn't cross-shop between the Mini Roadster and a Miata. The fact that it's FWD kills the deal for me. But it's bound to find a large amount of buyers regardless.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree to a point. For most people interested in no more than "sporty" or "aggressive" driving, FWD actually suits them just fine. In this regard, Minis are fantastic and I've no doubt that the Roadster will be both a fine "sports-ish car" and sales success.

        But that said, yes, the Miata is incredibly tough to beat. The true name of the sports car game is "balance" and not even BMW can surpass the sublime tossibility of modern Miatas. They really are that good and a lot of it can be chalked up to RWD.

        Both will be excellent cars (particularly given the 200 lb weight loss the next Miata will enjoy) but as anyone visiting a road course will see, track days & auto-X will likely remain Miata's domain.
        • 4 Years Ago
        True, but not everyone who buys a Miata is an enthusiast. Remember that in quite a few circles, the Miata considered a secretary's chariot. Folks who don't buy a Miata with the enthusiast mindset usually want a small, cute convertible. They would absolutely shop a Mini Roadster alongside a Miata.

        Folks like you and I see the Miata for its enthusiast merits like weight, weight distrib, available LSD, RWD, etc. Almost makes me sad that alot of the less enthused Miata owners don't even realize the little gem they have.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I love the combination of low weight and RWD found in the Miata, but no one cross shopping these two will be an enthusiast. When you factor in that most people are not enthusiasts anyway, the Mini should sell very well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have both MINI Cooper S and Miata PRHT. Mazda's customer service is terrible when compared to MINI.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For me, what kills the Miata is the fact that it has ZERO practicality for everyday use. Not a hatch, and no back seat are deal-breakers. Say what you will about the MINI's rear seat, but it has usable storage and can carry a surprisingly large load or large items.

        If you can only have one car, it's really hard to justify the MX-5 being the one.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The new Roadster/Speedster is hot. Never cared much for the Miata and I never considered them in the same category. I had a 2007 Hardtop Cooper S and it was a blast to drive. The FWD was a bit of a turnoff for me and on the mini in particular, You developed some beefy forearms after driving it for awhile because the torque steer was ridiculous. However, it was fun to drive and it did corner like it was on rails and sat low to the ground so I felt like I was driving a go-kart. The car just made me happy driving it and I could care less when friends told me it was a chick car and gay guys constantly hit on me at the stop lights. At the time, I also had a 2007 BMW 335i and a Lexus IS300. Out of the 3, I have to say, the Lexus was the most fun to drive because it had RWD, felt the lightest, had a manual 6 Speed and you could switch off the Traction Control. I had so much fun in that car in the canyons, drifting around corners and flicking it back and forth through the turns.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Please look at my invention to make small cars safer in collisions.

      www.safersmallcars.com
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would buy a Miata is I was willing to hear i had a girly car every 5 minutes, can't be bothered to live with that. I know people that had them and they are so ashamed that they pretend that it's their wife's or daughter's.

      Whoever can make a cheap, good to drive roadster without a girly stigma will sell a lot... in the 50% male part of the market.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bravo Alex... Bravo...

        I drive a Miata and whenever I get something like that I explain what the car really is. If I get more guff I explain I don't let things define me, if I get MORE guff I pretty much decide that's not someone I want to be around.
        • 4 Years Ago
        JC... people only think it's a girly car when you're in one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        jc, buy a MX5 and every time someone tells you that you have a girlie car, take them out for a hard spin.

        That or grow a pair and don't worry about what your idiot neighbor thinks of your car.

        You are missing out on a ton of fun if image is the only reason you are holding back on buying a MX5.
    • Load More Comments