One of the very first things that struck me when we pulled up to the dealer and I saw my car sitting out front was how good these cars look in person. Pictures simply don't do them justice for some reason, and I've been looking at a lot of pictures recently. Somehow on film (or in bits) you just don't get the same impression of how SMALL the car is, or how SHORT the hood really is, or how cool the little details here and there look. The 'S' on the front fender side vent, for example, is just exquisite.
There seems to be no bad angle for viewing this car. The front quarter view is outstanding, however, as is the straight-on rear view (especially with an S, which has that cool dual center-mounted exhaust). I would venture a guess that most people who own MINI's bought them because of the external styling; that's what catches your eye first and most impressively.
From the inside, I was struck by how BIG the car feels! It's very easy to forget when you're driving it that the car is a mere 12 feet long. It feels solid and confident on the road, and gives the impression of being a much larger car than it really is. For some reason, it also has a tendency to mislead the driver into believing he's going slower than he really is. It's easy to be loping along and not realize that you're doing 70+ mph.
Several people have criticized the MINI Cooper S as having too harsh of a ride. I disagree. It's tight, to be sure, but not overly so. This is a sports car, so I expect it to have a tight suspension, and the car doesn't disappoint. It LOVES to corner, and sticks to the ground like, well, I hate to use a cliche', but like it's on rails.
The requirement is that you keep it under 4,500rpm for the first 1,250 miles, which is a lot less of a problem than it sounds like because the car still performs beautifully in this range, even thought it's definitely not “in the sweet spot”.
I was struck by the fuel economy. On my ride home from the dealer (about 40 miles, split roughly evenly between back roads and interstate) I averaged 28mpg. So far, with about 150 miles on the clock, the overall average is 24mpg or so. A hair less than the rated fuel economy (24/35), but a fair sight better than the 13.9mpg I was getting in my truck!
In no particular order, here are the things that made me say “COOL!”:
- The Xenon headlights are fantastic, but aimed just a bit low. The self-levelling feature is a really cool gee-whiz feature…just punch it and watch the headlights dip slightly to compensate for the “squat”
- I love the look of the dash at night. The orange backlight is really striking, and easy on the eyes.
- Could they make the radio any more obtuse? Why the cooky labels? (What the hell does the “M” button do???)
- So many zeros on the odometer reading! I'll have to do something about that!
- Is that antenna really for the remote control? 🙂
- Brake dust, brake dust, everywhere!
- Electric blue is absolutely stunning in person.
- Why would anybody buy a MINI without bonnet stripes? They look cool when you peek out over the hood from the driver's seat
- The hatchback sure does collect a lot of dirt quickly
- Hard to find those power window buttons the first time, but they fall to hand readily enough once you've used them once or twice.
- Love the auto a/c! Works great, and very efficiently
- Wow, this thing drives great!
- 28mpg! Wowza!
- Why are all those people staring at me?
- Everybody keeps telling me it's cute!
- Really stable. Really comfortable. Really quick. Really good attention to detail.
- WHAT A CAR!
- Did I mention this thing drives great?
More later…I've got some motoring to do! 🙂