MINI Roadster

MINI Cooper SD Roadster, front
MINI Cooper SD Roadster, side
MINI Cooper SD Roadster, side, roof up
MINI Cooper SD Roadster, rear
MINI Cooper SD Roadster, interior
MINI Cooper SD Roadster, boot
Mini Cooper S Roadster, interior

THIS year's must-have accessory for the summer - if it ever arrives - is the MINI Roadster.

The new Roadster takes the MINI family to six models, and along with the Hatch, Convertible, Countryman, Clubman and Coupé, is sure to be another success story for the Oxford production line.

Based on its sibling Coupé, the Roadster is available in four versions - Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SD and John Cooper Works.

Priced from £18,020 for the 122bhp lead-in Cooper model, to £24,860 for the 211bhp flagship John Cooper Works, all three petrol-powered variants use derivatives of the company's highly-acclaimed 1.6-litre, four-pot engine.

The £21,630 Cooper SD comes with MINI's torquey 143bhp, two-litre diesel.

I recently tried the diesel version and I certainly was not left disappointed.

Its kart-like handling lets you explore its limits without danger  and it always felt completely planted.

Top speed is 132mph, 0 to 60mph takes around eight seconds yet the Cooper SD Roadster can average more than 60 miles to the gallon with tax friendly low CO2 emissions of 118g/km.

The speed-dependent electro-mechanical power steering is a joy making it easy to park and drive in town but it firms up nicely when you are out on the open road.

The suspension is firm like every other MINI but the ride is still comfortable unless you encounter really bad surfaces.

Taking the roof down is very simple. A twist of a handle unlocks the mechanism and then a push of a button takes care of the rest.

It can all be completed in around 10 seconds even while driving at speeds of up to 20mph.

The powerful air conditioning system coupled with heated seats should help enthusiasts enjoy open-air motoring even in our cooler months.

The cabin is typical MINI. There's the large round speedo in the middle of the dash while the rev counter - which also incorporates a small digital speedo readout - sits right in the driver's line of sight above the centre of the steering wheel.

The 240-litre boot offers surprising space and a drop-down hatch even allows longer articles like a golf bag to be carried.

Standard equipment on the Cooper SD Roadster includes manual air conditioning, digital radio/CD sound system, sports seats, and three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel, while safety features include anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution and four airbags.

As usual to help buyers personalise their Roadster, a list of option packs along with a comprehensive list of extras are available, including MINI's popular Chili package which includes on-board computer, bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth with USB audio, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and automatic air conditioning.

I also got a brief drive in the flagship John Cooper Works model which is the one to choose if you want pace with your pose.

It packs 211bhp and provides stunning performance. It takes just 6.4 seconds to reach 60mph and feels even quicker.

It goes round corners as if it is on rails and  has you grinning from ear to ear.

If only it would stop raining.....

FAST FACTS

MINI Roadster

Price: £21,630

Mechanical: 143bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 132mph

0-62mph: 8.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 118g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited miles

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