VIDEO | Our week with the MINI Roadster S

MINI Australia | MINI Roadster S Drive Review

Written by – Ash Davies

Don’t you just love deadlines? We had only three days with this car – to drive it, assess it, convene our thoughts and produce an entire piece on it. Not a lot of time to craft a multi-faceted story about a car you’ve never even seen before!

The timing of our loan period unfortunately aligned with MINI’s marketing campaign for the new Roadster. Their cars were going on a road trip, travelling around the country and being filmed for a mini-series (pun intended). Most of their press cars were due back in Sydney by the end of the week.

We made a couple of adaptions to accomodate the tougher deadlines. Typically, we have close to a week to drive and assess a car before planning and producing a piece. For the first day with the roadster, I drove the pants off of it. Mountains, city roads, suburbs – I was out past 2am with that car, driving new roads and filling up a notepad with pointers to discuss about the roadster.

People tend to look at me strangely when I personify a car. Maybe I do get a little carried away when I talk about the character and disposition of a piece of engineering. The big, underlined point I jotted down about the roadster was quite conclusive – “This car is better suited to a character than a criteria”.

I’ve always believed that there are two ways to review a car. One way is to play top trumps and compare data. Which is faster? Which is more practical? Which is cheaper? It’s a direct, logical approach, and it’s respectable. A lot of people rightly compare these details when choosing a car!

I’ve always believed that a car should be reviewed as a more cohesive object. Cars are very emotional, so we shouldn’t let a review recide entirely on statistics. It’s generally noted that in any review you should disregard emotion to create a rational, unbiased contention. With a car though, I really believe that being statistical and emotionless is completely missing the point.

I loved the MINI Roadster S. It wasn’t perfect, but creating a perfect and practical car was never the intention of Mini’s design team. There are faster, better performing cars. Renault‘s Clio RS makes a mockery of the Roadster’s dynamics. It’s faster, more agile and responsive – but it doesn’t have a silly pop in the exhaust on downshifts, it doesn’t have a secret storage compartment, and it doesn’t have a quirky little ‘boop beep boop beep’ when you turn the engine on. People may find those to be laughable merits on which to review a car, but they made me giggle, and that’s so much more important than an extra 0.5 seconds to 100.

One risk I took with this piece was going predominantly unscripted. Rather than writing a review and then reading it, I put together a structure and pointers that would guide the discussions and guide the review along its storyline. We drove from the city, to the suburbs, to Trevor, then to the mountains. It was a simple flow, but it was structured to align with a few key contentions and questions.

I must give a shout out to Trevor for his help with the piece. Trevor is someone I’ve known for a while, and I’ve always loved his fascination for Minis. No-joke, he and his family towed a caravan around Australia in one. He’s someone who absolutely understands the ethereal purpose of the Mini beyond clever engineering.

It was a very long day, but producing this piece was tremendously good fun. We used the third and final day to re-film a few sections and re-map part of the conclusion. The time restraints (and having one of the cameras fall off a car) meant we lacked a few external and tracking shots, but our focus on the content was rightly calculated.

MINI has created a superb car with the Roadster. What it lacks in dynamics and practicality, it makes up in charm and charisma. It isn’t for everyone (the word ‘gay’ has been thrown around with Mini’s convertibles), but if it appeals to you in the slightest, it will never disappoint you!

Thanks to MINI Australia, 8OZ Cafe and Trevor Bowden and his beautifully turned out MINI.

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