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The MINI Cooper has enjoyed great success in a relatively small niche market since its release in the U.S. for the 2002 model year. As time progressed, MINI released several variations, but none as unusual as the Roadster in 2012. The jury is still out on whether the MINI Roadster will be a success or not, but there is no arguing its uniqueness.
The MINI Roadster comes in a trio of trim levels – Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works – and aesthetically, the three are very similar. Where the three models vary significantly is under the hood.
The Cooper trim starts things off with a 1.6-liter engine that pumps out 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque and links up to a standard six-speed manual transmission. This combination affords the Cooper Roadster a monstrous 27 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, but a relatively disappointing 8.7-second sprint to 60 mph, and a 124 mph top speed.
The Mini Roadster comes standard with a fair amount of amenities: a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine; anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution; 18-inch alloy wheels; chromed grille slats and tailpipe; a rollover-protection bar; the Mini Connected infotainment system with HD Radio, six speakers and iPhone integration; leatherette seating; a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons; power windows and door locks; and air conditioning.
The Cooper S adds: a 1.6-liter engine with 181 horsepower; an aggressive hood scoop; front fog lamps; a black mesh grille; and dual chrome tailpipes.
The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works includes: a 208-horsepower 1.6-liter engine; electronic differential-lock control; and 17-inch Challenge-Spoke wheels with run-flat tires.
Lower base price and quicker to 60 in base trim, but lacks amenities in base level and no performance trims
Great mpg, equally unique looks and low price, but slower across the board and not a true convertible
New body style, lower base price and peppy Turbo model, but slow base model and expensive options
Peppy engine, faster base model and equally loaded with features, but much more expensive and larger