Faceoff: 2012 Mini Cooper S Roadster vs. Mazda MX-5 SV
Newmarket, Ont. — Forget hot. Sweltering somehow wouldn't cut it for today. Hell's kitchen is getting closer, but here, where the sun is beaming without a cloud in the sky, it's more like sitting under Beelzebub's personal broiler. The mercury is hovering at 36C, plus another 12 or 13 degrees with humidity. It's only 10 a.m., by the way, but we're braving the oppressive heat, tops down and SPF 60 applied for you, dear reader.
While we'd rather be chilling in something climate controlled and air conditioned, there's good reason to celebrate. It isn't every day that someone sticks their neck out to build an affordable roadster. Since the departure of the half-baked Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice twins, Mazda's MX-5 has had the roadster market all to its lonesome, each unchallenged day an opportunity to add to its title of world's bestselling convertible. But not anymore. Mini has just shown up with its all-new Roadster, this summer's most sought after affordable convertible, and is looking to not only steal some of Mazda's sales but rain on its parade as the perennial funster.
So, in one corner, we have the MX-5, a Japanese take on the '50s roadster experience sans electrical and mechanical maladies. Our tester, an SV model, is new this year, and can be distinguished with its gloss black roof and wheels and stunning pearl red paint. It packs most of the goodies and toys of the GT model — leather heated seats, power hardtop roof, xenons — but leaves behind pushbutton start, Bose audio, and unfortunately a limited slip differential.
In the other is an iconic British marque that's cashing in tradition for technology and a double-helping of retro style. It may lack the rear-drive layout, but in turbocharged S form, should provide plenty of smiles with more power, and a demeanor that swings between notoriously fun and downright mischievous.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for a test to find out which car best captures the roadster spirit. And possibly some coconut water.