MINI @ NAIAS 2012 – Are You Sure This Is The MINI Display?

Mini display

MINI always traditionally has a great display at Autoshows. Their marketing in general has always been pretty good. We’re not going to lie though, we walked right past the ugly Countryman, and right towards that white roadster in the back. The Countryman really is ugly in person…and there were two roadsters beckoning us.

White Cooper S roadster

Black Cooper S roadster

There is nothing like a couple roadsters parked wingtip to wingtip. They are rather oddly proportioned in person. It is basically a normal MINI ‘vert without back seats. It does have a very small functional trunk. The one had a very unique interior pattern, probably even more unusual than the plaid that made appearances in many VW interiors.

MINI roadster interior

Our favorite gauge!

Not only did the car retain the distinctly polarizing interior, it had our favorite gauge. This is a top down meter, to let you know how many hours of top down motoring you have done. Awesome. The pie plate dash is still as ridiculous as ever and interior ergonomics are largely unchanged. We didn’t sample either with the top up, so we can’t comment on headroom (they refused to put the tops up/down for us). We’d imagine a white steering wheel/seat leather can get grimy fast, but it is very cool looking.

Giant speedo and cluster

Love the brakes

The one roadster appeared to be fitted with JCW wheels and brakes. The John Cooper Works line will carry over to the drop-tops, likely with its incredible pricing structure intact. We’re always amazed at the vast array of customizable features in these cars and the price tag the options often carry. A loaded roadster could easily break into the high-20s or low-30s range in price…not cheap!

MINI Cooper S coupe

We did get to also sample a JCW MINI Coupe. It’s a Coupe Cooper or some incredible naming rhyme. The interior again is very similar, this one had unique bumps in the roof inside for more headroom. If this is any indication of the roadster’s headroom, we’d be worried about anyone over 6 feet tall. It was a squeeze for us and our 6 footer had his hair brushing the roof. One thing we didn’t realize is that the coupe has a substantial interior volume for its packaging. We didn’t realize its actually a hatchback, not a trunk.

MINI Cooper S coupe trunk space

Overall, we were impressed by both of the new MINI’s. They retain their quirkiness in true British fashion. It still is very much a style purchase, but if the brutal effectiveness of the normal Cooper S on the track is any indicator, these cars will be very good. We still miss the supercharger whine of the old cars, but we’re confident these will surpass the Cooper’s of old.

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MINI Motoring.

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