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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.

Then there’s the comfort. Granted our test car is a full specced leather swathed JCW model. But the same engineering that went into the JCW (more or less) resides in the base model $26,000 Cooper. And the Cooper Roadster is actually a more comfortable daily driver with the non-runflats and the smaller wheels with larger tire sidewalls (not to mention the greater MPG). The heated seats, the nav with traffic info, the bluetooth streaming; it all adds up to create a nice place to spend time and thus a happy commuting experience.

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Finally, there’s the factor of open top motoring. I’ll admit I didn’t expect to fall for the charms of wind in your hair and sun overhead. I was wrong. When it comes to long days at the office, there are few things that turn a day around more than a 45 minute commute top down through Chicago. And especially in something like the Roadster that people tend to love.

Now let’s talk about all those qualifiers. No the Roadster isn’t as involving as a used Porsche Boxster which could be had for the same if not less money. Nor is it as efficient as something like a Tesla Roadster (which we reviewed not once but twice and loved). And of couse there’s a number of options in between those two extremes that could make an argument for excellent daily drivers. However, what the MINI Roadster manages to do above almost all of them is to hit a sweet spot in efficiency, fun and affordability. And that’s without summer having even arrived.