Saturday, February 19, 2011
2011 Mini Cooper Roadster
Differentiated by its uncharacteristic swept windshield, A-pillars, low roofline and aggressive stance, the Mini Roadster is immediately recognized as a very unique Mini model. While those familiar with the current Mini lineup will instantly recognize the familiar styling below the beltline, the new Roadster features a small cloth convertible roof, ending dramatically in front of the rear trunk. Absent of the Cooper convertible’s two rear seats, the trunk is now larger as the safety roll bar has been moved forward on the chassis.
The Mini Roadster joins the Cooper, Clubman, Convertible and new Coupe for the 2011 model year. One of a pair of 2-seat models in the expanded lineup, the Roadster is designed to offer a sporty top-down driving experience with a standard turbocharged engine under the hood.
The 2011 Mini Roadster shares its mechanicals with the Mini Cooper S model. Under the bodywork is a turbocharged 1.6-liter powerplant. The 4-cylinder engine is fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger delivering 175 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. With its basis on the Cooper S, the Roadster is likely to remain front-wheel drive and equipped with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
Like the Cooper S models, the Roadster’s underpinnings include a front MacPherson strut, rear multi-link suspension, with sport-tuned dampers fitted at both ends and likely available with John Cooper Works handling upgrades such as a front strut tower brace.
Both the driver and front passenger inside the Mini Roadster are protected by dual-stage deployment “smart” frontal and seat-mounted side air bags. The roll bar has been moved forward in the Roadster—and completely redesigned as a single aluminum bar spanning the entire width of the interior. In the event of a rollover, the bar is engineered to move up electromechanically in just 150 milliseconds to provide additional head protection. In its stowed position it is designed to remain low, preserving the driver’s unobstructed view out the rear of the Roadster.
Like other Mini models, dynamic stability control and traction control are standard features on the Roadster. In addition, all Roadsters are fitted with 4-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, cornering brake control, and electronic brake distribution to give the driver more control while slowing or stopping the Mini.
The Mini Roadster is fitted with a unique system of instruments designed to reinforce its “fun to drive” quotient. The “Always Open” function tells the driver how long he or she has been driving with the top down, a feature offered on the standard Mini convertible today. Features present on the Roadster concept but which may not see production are a “Nature Guard” function, telling the driver how efficiently they are driving, “Highspeed Shifter” display telling the driver how to utilize the engine for maximum power, and a “Gravity Indicator” presenting lateral g-forces and the direction of the acceleration. The “Heart Beat” setting visualizes the speed of the engine graphically (like a human heart beat): The faster the engine revs, the faster it beats. Lastly, the “Buddy Radar” shows the driver where other Mini drivers are currently out on the road (gender not included).