Mini Cooper S Roadster and Mazda MX-5
Mini Cooper S Roadster and Mazda MX-5. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2012 Mini Roadster
First Drive: 2012 Mini JCW Coupe
Test Drive: 2012 Mazda MX-5 SV
Test Drive: 2012 Mazda MX-5 GT
Used Vehicle Review: Mazda MX-5, 1990-2004

Manufacturer’s web site
Mini Canada
Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Roadster comparo


It brings to mind top-down cruising on winding country roads with the sun beating down and exploring that connection between man, machine, and road.

Well, earlier this summer we did exactly that with a 2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster and the quintessential roadster, the king of roadsters, the all-time bestselling roadster of all time, the 2012 Mazda Miata-MX-5-Miata. What are they calling it again this year? Is it okay to call it a Miata again? Whatever.

For over 20 years now, the Miata has been The roadster, and I find it slightly presumptuous of Mini to come along and simply claim the Roadster name with their “Oh, look at us, we have such simple names for our cars, but then we confuse you with trim names…” Yeah, well, if you’re going to call yourself a Roadster, you better be prepared to face the best, and the Miata is the best.

I’ve driven Miatas and MX-5s on the track (and off, oops) on the road and off the map, and it has never been anything less than spectacular. Perhaps the best driving experience I have ever had was driving a Titanium Gray Metallic 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 down Maui’s twisting, coastal Hana Highway, and then back up again, then down and up and down and up and down and up again. An MX-5 is also the car I took my first track lessons on and it seemed to teach me not only the track but how to drive and how to appreciate every curve and turn.

Mini Cooper S Roadster and Mazda MX-5
Mini Cooper S Roadster and Mazda MX-5. Click image to enlarge

While my personal history with the Mini Cooper S is not as rich, I have driven it in various body styles at various times, and it, too, has done nothing less than bring sheer driving joy with every tug on the steering wheel, flick of a switch, and whoosh of a turbocharger. While Mini brand history goes back decades, the Roadster finds its roots in the modern Mini, relaunched in all its retro glory by BMW, the maker of cars that fulfill an extraordinary driving experience. Used to, at least.

The Roadster joined the Mini family just this year, and brings all the charm of Mini’s signature goofiness to the sporty, two-seat convertible market. Mini also builds a four-seat Convertible (yes, that is its model name) that offers a similar driving experience if you’re looking for a little more practicality.

But practicality is one of the last things that these cars are about. Roadsters are about driving pleasure, connecting with nature (at least the sun and wind, preferably we can avoid trees and water parts of nature), and driving pleasure. And with that, let’s get into these cars and have some pleasure (and hopefully that didn’t sound too creepy).

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