2012 MINI Roadster Spotted Testing on the 'Ring

There isn’t a car company out there that is better at turning its show concepts into production models than MINI. Case in point: the new Coupe and Roadster, which look even better in production forms than they did two years ago when we first laid eyes on them.

We’ve already shown you a couple of shots here and there of the Coupe testing its metal to the fullest of its potential, but now, thanks to the efforts of CAR Magazine, you can “ooh” and “aah” at the Roaster’s track-attacking potential. The open-top two-seater show that kart-like maneuverability that makes a MINI what it is, despite not have the rear-wheel drive that we all really wanted.

Both the Coupe and the Roadster were originally previewed in concept form at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show. They were supposed to be on the fast-track to production, but the slow global economy and the launch of the Countryman meant that for a while we didn’t really know for sure when exactly they were going to be made.

The Roadster is motivated by the same range of engines available in the standard Cooper line, including naturally aspirated and turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinders. Front-wheel drive will be the order of the day. We also expect that suspension, acceleration and handling should be nearly identical to the three-door hatchback, too, though it may actually be more neutral, as the Roadster is said to shift some of its weight rearward for better distribution.

The prototype shown here is tested on the famous Nurburgring test track and looks to be equipped with the regular, naturally aspirated 1.6-liter. It also shows a pop-up rear wing that was not present on the 2009 concept.

We expect the Roadster to do well, as it’s even better looking than the Cooper Cabrio. It will likely make its official production debut later in the year, with sales to commence in early 2012.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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