Section: MotoringFile Garage

MF Garage: Top Down in Dixie

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster) Jan 6th, 2014 6 Comments

Roadster in Dixie

There’s blood, and then there’s your brother from another mother. Sometimes, the other mother gets remarried in Tennessee and when that happens, you go to a wedding. That’s what had me and my wife blasting down HWY 94 out of Chicago and into northwest Indiana this past summer. Our transportation was none other than the MotoringFile long-term loaner car, a MINI JCW Roadster. With the clock winding down on our year with this car, this trip was my last chance to spend some real, quality time with the Roadster. It was also an opportunity to put some highway miles on the car and see what it was like to live with a soft top on the freeway for 20 hours. Would the road noise drive us crazy? Would the southern heat keep us hiding under our cloth roof? Would this little black car and its black leather seats turn into a torture chamber in the parking lot? These were all pressing questions as we headed southeast toward a family reunion of sorts – my own personal episode of Justified.

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MF Garage: Open Top Showdown. Roadster vs. Moto

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, Opinion, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Aug 14th, 2013 20 Comments


It’s no secret that our MotoringFile long-term review car, a MINI JCW Roadster, has won us over to open top motoring. Between the grunt of the turbo, the overall refinement of the options we chose, and the infinite sky above our heads, driving the Roadster is a MINI motoring experience unlike any we’ve experienced before. Gabe has likened this visceral, out-in-the-world experience to riding a motorcycle. That’s his estimation, anyway. Gabe’s never actually ridden a motorcycle through the open countryside.

I, on the other hand, have a running motorcycle for every day of the week. I’ve been riding since 2007, and that open air riding experience is a big part of the lasting appeal. So in short, I can confirm Gabe’s assertion that driving the JCW Roadster has many motorcycle-like qualities. Yet it wasn’t until I spent a week with the Roadster myself that I understood just where those overlaps are.

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MF Garage: The JCW Roadster Road-trips North and Into Our Hearts

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Jul 10th, 2013 9 Comments


Heading north on Michigan’s famous M22, I realized something about our little JCW Roadster. In all my years of driving all sorts of cars, I can’t remember bonding with a car more than I’ve bonded with this one in just a year. Sure, I’ve driven better cars that I’ve probably enjoyed more (my BMW 1M comes to mind), but never has one car slotted so comfortably and happily into my daily life. Heading into northern Michigan on one of the best chains of roads in the country seemed like a good way to bond further.

As a vehicle, the MINI Roadster is built perfectly for one or two people. The car has a decently sized boot with a pass-through, and driving capabilities fit for any weather. Dry, wet, hot or cold; the Roadster can handle it with comfort and style. Mostly the past ten thousand miles have proven the Roadster as a brilliant everyday car. Yet it’s on these sorts of driver’s roads, on this kind of perfect summer day, that the Roadster is truly in its element. continued →

MF Garage: Is the MINI JCW Roadster the Best Commuter Car Ever?

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, Opinion, R59 (Roadster) Apr 23rd, 2013 28 Comments

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Bold claim for sure. But the recent warm and sunny weather in Chicago has me thinking the JCW Roadster may just represent the best every day car money can buy. Obviously, a statement like that should be filled with asterisks and qualifiers. But before we get into all that, lets back up and talk about why. First off, I’m specifically referring to urban commuting. Small parking spots and lots of tight streets. What the Roadster offers is a tidy package that provides plenty of thrills while being efficient in both its use of fuel and space. In terms of raw numbers consider this; I’m seeing (with a very heavy right foot) close to 30 mpg (US) in the stop and go commuting duty.

There’s also the simple thrill of driving a small MINI. A quick steering rack and all the visceral thrill you can stand in a day to day car. In short, stepping foot into any MINI every day should put a smile on your face. continued →

MF Garage: Our Roadster’s First Spring Road-trip

MotoringFile Sections: MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Apr 15th, 2013 12 Comments

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With a quickly packed bag in the trunk and the Valentine 1 mounted on the windshield, the MINI Roadster and its first spring road trip gets underway just as the sun begins to climb into the morning sky. Our little JCW Roadster has done countless miles on this kind of road trip already but it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to go on one with weather worthy of top-down motoring. If all goes according to plan, that should happen today.

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MF Garage: The JCW Roadster Tackles Winter

MotoringFile Sections: JCW, MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster), Reviews Feb 28th, 2013 14 Comments


When we took possession of our long term JCW Roadster we told you we wanted to find out if the soft-top could indeed be an everyday, all year car. In the sun of California or other warm climates, it’s easy for the Roadster to make sense. Yet what happens when you throw it at the upper midwest? After six months of time with the car we’re starting to get a good answer to that. continued →

MF Garage: December Roadster Road-trip

MotoringFile Sections: JCW, MotoringFile Garage, R59 (Roadster) Dec 14th, 2012 12 Comments

It’s pitch-black, 43F and my top is down as I head into Michigan. This isn’t the sunny coastal drive that this car was made for but it’s doing this late Autumn Midwestern drive justice nonetheless. It’s no surprise that our Roadster has been a healthy dose of fun since we picked it up fresh from MTTS. From the weekend road-trips to the day to day, it’s proven to be a delightful combination of performance, style, and usability. And if you follow any of my Instagram feed you’ll know how often this car has been thoroughly tested on long midwestern jaunts. But this one was to be different. The goal was to go top down as long as possible through Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and then finally to Wisconsin. And it’s December. continued →

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