Mini Roadster gunning for Mazda's MX-5
Mini has taken the covers off its new two-seater, the Mini Roadster, giving the world's most popular sportscar, Mazda's MX-5 something to think about.
The new car is based on the uniquely styled Mini Coupe and is a strict two-seater unlike its open-top cousin, the Mini Convertible. With prices starting at just £18,015 for the basic Mini Cooper Roadster, the conversely retro yet modern sportster is only £25 more expensive than the standard Mazda but boasts a faster top speed, and more importantly, significantly better emissions performance than the MX-5 at 133g/km CO2 compared to 167.
Thankfully, the Mini Roadster has lost the Coupe's hideous 'backwards baseball cap' roof and with the top down looks, dare we say, elegant? Maybe it's just the discreet black cloth compared to the coupe's look-at-me customisable roof, but the Roadster certainly looks better proportioned.
Engine wise, Mini's familiar 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol lump will power the Roadster with three states of tune available. The standard 1.6-litre four pumps out 121bhp with the turbocharged version borrowed from the Cooper S churning out 181bhp in the Roadster S and 208bhp when the top of the range John Cooper Works Roadster makes an appearance.
There'll be diesels too for the stylish but economical option – Mini's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo kicking out a healthy 141bhp will be available from the off in the Roadster SD.
Cracking the dash from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and sipping the go-go juice at a rate of just one gallon every 63 miles the Roadster SD will be fast as well as frugal – team it with emissions of just 118g/km of CO2 and Mini could be on to a winner.
But as the world's favourite two-seater, the real question is does Mazda's famed little sportster that's sat at the top of the tree for so long still have the appeal to fend off the challenge from the achingly retro-cool Mini brand?
Well the MX-5 has always been known as a drivers' car. And with a well tuned chassis that loves to be driven, teamed with perky engines that relish revs, the compact Japanese two-seater has always been a big hit in the sportscar hungry British market.
But with Mini Roadster and Citroen's DS3 Cabriolet coming soon too, the Mazda's exemplary driving dynamics might not be enough to cut it in this fashion-conscious age of technology.
No matter how good the new Mini is to drive though, with that dinner-plate speedo and that badge, the Roadster is bound to sell like hot cakes.