Mini's Forgotten Coupe And Roadster Are Quirky Sports Car Bargains

Smart Buy / Comments

Even the JCW models are affordable.

The Mini brand isn't very large, neither in terms of actual vehicle size or the number of models available. Mini's model range can basically be boiled down to just a handful of cars including the Hardtop, Convertible, Clubman, and Countryman, plus a few special variants of those models like the 2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP. There have been some rumors of expansion with a larger SUV and even a convertible sports car but back in 2011, Mini went down the sports car path and it didn't end so well.

Mini introduced two new models in 2011 in the form of the Mini Coupe and the Mini Roadster. These were the first two-seater Mini models and both were based on the standard Cooper. Neither car sold very well when they were new but used examples are now very affordable and we think they are quite cool and an absolute hoot to drive.

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Why You Should Buy One

The reason why you would want a Mini Coupe or Roadster is the same reason you would want any other Mini model, the styling, and the driving experience. All Mini models have distinctive exterior styling but the Coupe and Roadster are in a league of their own. Both cars feature a unique tapered roof with a deployable rear spoiler. Mini said the design inspiration was a child wearing a backward baseball hat.

Since the Coupe and Roadster were both based on the same platform as other Mini models at the time, they drive similarly. Mini even offered Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works variants so buyers had plenty of choice on how much power they needed with up to 208 horsepower from the JCW model.

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Mini

The Price

Pricing doesn't differ too drastically between the Coupe and Roadster, so the decision between the two will mostly be based on style, practicality, and whether or not you want a convertible driving experience. Used examples of the base Coupe and Roadster start around $8,000 with most S models starting around $10,000 or more. John Cooper Works models are more difficult to find and can be found for around $18,000 with the nicest examples topping out in the low-$20,000 range. That's cheaper than a brand new Mazda MX5 Miata, though, and you get turbo power.

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Mini

The Performance

Mini offered both the Coupe and Roadster in base, S, and JCW variants. All variants sent power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic on all models except the JCW, which was manual-only. The base powertrain is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 121 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Opting for the S adds a turbocharger, bringing the output to 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. JCW models are the most powerful with a tuned version of the 1.6-liter turbo engine producing 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The range-topping JCW was quite quick, too, with a 0-60 mph time of around 6.4 seconds with a top speed of 149 mph.

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Mini

The Interior

Since both of these cars are based on the standard Cooper, there aren't many changes on the interior where Mini's quirky design runs rampant. This generation of Mini still put the massive speedometer prominently in the middle of the cabin with the tachometer positioned on a smaller gauge in front of the driver. Base models used a full speedometer with a small radio screen below it but cars equipped with navigation came with an infotainment display within the speedo. Mini offered a ton of customization on these cars, meaning there are countless trim and leather combinations available on the used market. Almost no two Mini interiors will be optioned exactly alike.

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The Practicality

Aside from the lack of a back seat, both the Mini Coupe and Roadster are actually quite practical. Since the area where the rear seats used to be was converted into storage, both vehicles have very large cargo areas with passthroughs into the cabin. The Coupe is a bit larger thanks to its hatchback opening with 9.8 cubic feet of space while the Roadster is rated at 8.5 cubic feet. This is much larger than other two-seat vehicles like the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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Verdict

The Mini Coupe and Roadster are strange cars, so they are not going to appeal to everyone. A regular Mini Cooper Hardtop or Convertible will be more practical and offer the same driving experience but we think the Coupe and Roadster are more unique and are bound to draw more curious stares. With pricing ranging from under $10,000 to the low-$20,000 ballpark, we think these forgotten Mini models would make interesting weekend toys. We'd take a JCW, purely to make the most of the go-kart handling with more than 200 hp on tap.

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