You could be forgiven for thinking that the car in the picture is not a new model. The Mini Convertible has been in existence since 2009 but the difference between that and the new Roadster tested here is that the latter has two seats where the Convertible has four.

The distinction runs slightly deeper than that but not much. Where the Convertible is based on the Mini hatchback, the Roadster shares its platform with the Coupe, so it’s supposedly a little more rigid and has an extra dose of sporting pedigree.

The upshot is that it’s a Coupe with the roof chopped off, which, when the roof is down, solves the rear visibility issue that plagues the hard top, but leaves little practicality. With the roof down, there is double the boot space of the Mini Convertible, but that’s at the expense of the small rear seats. The Roadster trades on its styling, which never fails to turn a head, and the desirability of the Mini brand.

The 2.0-litre SD diesel in the model tested here is punchy and strikes a sound balance between frugality and performance with its mix of 118g/km, 62.8mpg and a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds. More sedate and extreme versions are available with the 1.6 petrol Cooper and the turbocharged John Cooper Works models.

Predictably, the Roadster is not cheap, especially when you move from Cooper to Cooper S trim and/or start adding the Chili and Media packs.

Against its very close relation the Mini Convertible, the similarly specced Roadster is £500 more expensive on the P11D price, and maybe surprisingly is predicted to hold less of its value, leading it to a 1.5p per mile deficit. That’s the price of better looks and a larger boot, against the two little rear seats of the Convertible.

The strength of the brand, lovable styling and the availability of a diesel variant work in the Roadster’s favour, but its costs – most notably the steep P11D prices for anything above the basic Cooper models – and lack of practicality count it out for most fleets.

Mini Roadster 2.0 SD Chili & Media
P11D price £24,565
Model price range £17,845-£28,305
Residual value 36.6%
Depreciation £15,565
Fuel £5911
SMR £2054
VED £60
National Insurance £1831
Cost per mile 53.9p
Fuel consumption 62.8mpg
CO2 (tax) 118g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month £70/£139
Service interval variable miles
Insurance (1-50) group 24
Warranty 3yrs unlimited mls
Boot space 240 litres
Engine size/power 1995cc 143hp
Top speed/0-62mph 132mph/8.1secs
On sale April 2012
Score 6/10
Verdict Attractive and appealing
but brings nothing
more to Mini’s table