The MINI Roadster is the convertible many of us have been waiting for. Sleek and sporty with a classic manually operated top, this is as back to basics (and light) as a factory option top MINI has ever gotten. But how exactly does the top differ from what the R57 convertible offers? In many many ways. Let’s take a look.

The Roadster’s top goes down with a flick of a wrist rather than a push of a button. The top, an all season soft-top made of the same material as the Convertible’s, then folds neatly into the space behind the front seats. When closed, the roof – which shares the simple style of classic British roadsters – “cascades” downwards, broadening as it heads towards the body and underlining to fine effect the typically MINI, powerful over-the-wheel stance. When opened, the roof folds down flat behind the seats, keeping the car’s elegantly sweeping lines intact. And since the outer skin of the roof faces upwards, there is no need for any additional cover.

The manual opening and closing mechanism of the soft-top roof allows the driver to drop the top in seconds. And the roof can be closed again equally quickly to protect from any unexpected weather. The roof is opened by turning the release lever on the windscreen frame though 130 degrees and swivelling the soft-top back in a single movement behind the seats, where it locks into place.

An option feature coming to summer production will be a semi-automatic top. With this option, the process for closing the roof will be triggered by pressing a button positioned between the roll-over bars, which allows the roof to extend back out of its anchorage points assisted by gas-pressure springs. It can then be pulled forward with the help of the release lever and fixed in place again against the windscreen frame. Likewise opening the roof, one simple has to open the top (by twisting the handle) and then push the button to lower it the rest of the way.

So what does this mean for the driving experience? Like the Coupe, the Roadster has more weight upfront giving the Roadster more lift-off oversteer and a very playful personality. In addition, the use of a comparatively lightweight, manually operated soft-top roof lowers the car’s centre of gravity further than any other MINI currently produced.

Back to basics and nothing you don’t need. The new Roadster is the convertible we at MF have been waiting for since the new MINI was introduced. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel.

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