By Andrew G. Rosen
After several weeks of debate, I decided to make the plunge: I bought myself a MINI Cooper. Like most first-timers, I was hesitant. Do good things really come in small packages? Here are a few things you might not know about owning a MINI Cooper.
1. THE MESSAGE. The marketing doesn’t stop — even after you buy the vehicle! The MINI gang does a great job of reminding you that you are now part of a new family. They are always sending cool little gifts. From the MINI Adventure Kit that arrived six weeks after I purchased my Hardtop S to the stuffed bulldog and pewter keychain given to me at the dealership – these guys know how to get their message across. There is even a glossy MINI magazine mailed twice a year.
2. THE SPEED. To say that the MINI is “peppy” is an understatement. Thanks to a short body and 181 horses, passing other cars on the highway is a breeze. I am a cautious driver. I love that the engine is reactive and responsive, all while giving me a feeling of control.
3. THE GAS. The miles you squeeze out per gallon are determined by your driving style. City results have been respectable, but it’s the highway mileage that has really impressed me. I’m easily getting 35 miles per gallon. I sure don’t miss the gas station.
4. THE ACCOLADES. I already knew that the MINI attracts attention – but I had no idea how many heads it would turn and how envious friends, family and strangers would be. People are genuinely excited to get a close look and step inside. I might not be the coolest cat in town, but I think my street cred just went up a notch.
5. THE WEATHER. Snow, sleet, ice – no problem. I had serious reservations about my run-flat tires. But so far, so good. The MINI has performed like a champ in all types of weather. As long as you take it nice and easy, and stay away from high snow drifts, there’s no reason your MINI can’t escape from the garage on a snow day.
6. THE TANK. When I close the door on my MINI, I feel like I have entered a fortress of solitude. Every entry and exit is a reminder that I have not sacrificed safety to be some eco-friendly hipster.
7. THE SPACE. Yes, the car is small – but it is a model of successful ergonomics. I’ve yet to run into an everyday storage situation that the car couldn’t handle. The seats flip down with ease and having a hatch open is crazy convenient.
I don’t want to be a full-on MINI cheerleader, so let me tell you about a few things that I am not enamored with. When I first test drove the car I found the center console, with the supersized speedometer a bit, well, off center. I have had a difficult time getting used to it, and have found that it benefits the passenger far more than a driver.
Also underwhelming has been the MINI’s heating system. The thing takes a long time to heat up; given the cabin size, that’s unacceptable. The saving grace has been the heated seats (a must have!). I’d also like for the standard stereo to pump out a more dynamic sound. Aside from the volume being relatively low, I find that I am often missing extreme highs and lows – even on satellite and HD radio.
Overall the MINI is the perfect car for my lifestyle, Unless there are triplets in my future, I can see owning a MINI for life.