First Look: 2010 Mini Roadster Concept

Mini is looking to simplify and purify its offerings at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show. We've already seen the coupe concept and now the rumored Roadster Concept is on display at the show stand.

Understandably, the Mini Roadster is a toned down version of the Coupe Concept with a manual cloth top. Where the Coupe uses an engine borrowed from the potent JCW model, the Roadster uses a 1.6-liter turbo-four from the Mini Cooper S. Actually, Mini only goes so far as to say the Roadster "might possibly be powered by" such an engine, but we think it's a safe bet to expect the Cooper S powerplant.

The Mini Roadster Concept is easily identifiable as a Mini, which isn't very surprising since everything ahead of the A-pillar is stock sheetmetal on a Mini Convertible. The A-pillars are raked back much more aggressively than those on the convertible, but they seem to match the angle of the Mini Coupe Concept quite nicely.

Just like the Coupe Concept, there are only two seats and not a whole lot of cargo space. Thankfully the full 8.8 cubit feet of cargo space is available with the top up or down. Losing even a fraction of that space with the top down would be a tragedy for this little Mini. A lockable opening allows the passenger to reach back to the trunk while the car is in motion to grab small items like snacks or maps stored in the trunk.

Inside, the Always Open meter will record how many hours the top has been down while the car was driven and a new feature, known as Heart Beat, will certainly entertain the driver. Heart Beat uses information from sensors that monitor acceleration and lateral acceleration of the car to determine how fast the car's heart should beat. As one can imagine, the heart beats faster when the car is driven harder -- just like a person's heart does.

Will it see production? If the Roadster Concept was introduced by itself, we'd be inclined to say it wouldn't amount to much more than a styling exercise. But the debut of Coupe and Roadster concepts together is a promising sign -- it's likely there's enough volume between the two to make a business case for the new tooling required to produce the body parts that differ from the traditional Cooper and Clubman models. If either of these Minis appeals to you, it might be wise to start socking away your extra cash. It shouldn't be long before dealers begin taking deposits.

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