The hood ornament – such a tiny automotive embellishment, such a big difference between this Ford and any of the modern, generic cars, trucks & SUV’s on the road today.
On November 22, my beloved Big Papi was rear ended. Four & a half months later, the insurance company & direct repair shop (who will remain nameless until a later post) finally arranged for me to take him to Mini myself to get his backup sensors & trunk latch fixed properly. I was told by the insurance company that “inconveniences are to be expected when you’re in an accident,” but this has been a total nightmare. Luckily, a trunk light that constantly turns the interior lights on & off is “not a safety hazard that prevents you from driving.”
Big Papi is a 2005 Mini Cooper convertible. He has some pretty big issues with his CVT transmission. Every 10,000 miles, he needs to have it adjusted. Unfortunately, due to poor timing & being poor, I let it get to the point where he could barely drive 45mph. Shifting into the manual mode, I could sometimes get up to higher speeds but downshifting was a 50/50 chance of a jolting trip to 6000+RPM. This leads to the only positive experience of the car accident – I was forced to take Big Papi to Mini of Monmouth. Since they opened, I had wanted to give them a try but it is often more important for me to be editing when I am not working & I could get by driving 45mph most of the time.
I was a little worried that Mini of Monmouth would not be as great as Princeton Mini. I thought maybe Mini stopped trying now that so many non-waving, boring people were driving Mini Coopers. Even their advertising is not as fun. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff at Mini of Monmouth was equally awesome. I dropped my car off around 9:30 & received a call less than four hours later to say that Big Papi was ready. Part of me was a little disappointed because I wanted to test the 2012, take nice pictures of it & write a review. Because I was working, the nice pictures didn’t really happen & I didn’t get to experience the Mini at night, but here are some mostly cosmetic notes on my six hour drive.
I loved the fun paint on the loaner & was really glad that the Countryman body has not become the only body style. I think it looks like a Subaru & lacks the charm of the regular Mini Cooper.
I love the orange eyeballs in the headlight eyes & the second set of eyes in the parking lights.
Super cute tail lights too.
I want one of these. Overall, I approve of the exterior.
The seat controls are still lacking a bit. I hate that the back adjustment faces the center console. It is really inconvenient to get your hand in there without jamming your knuckles. Maybe the non-base models have power seat controls?
The windows have a power down & power up which would be a decent feature if it wasn’t quite so difficult to get it to stay about 3/4 open. Also, while the location of the cup holders is a bit better than the 2006, there really isn’t much room for a big drink still. Anything taller than this would have made it really difficult to operate the windows. There is another cup holder behind the center console but I learned that it isn’t good for cans. Also, the side/door pockets don’t have as much room as the 2006. I could barely fit a few CDs in it. (Yeah, sorry, I don’t have an iPod.)
Ahhhhh, a defroster that doesn’t require super-loud high power defrosting only. In theory, since I didn’t actually need a defroster today, this is a huge improvement over the 2006.
The round key & push button start took a little getting used to. When I first tried to start it, I had no idea I needed to put my foot on the brake so I sat there basically turning the radio on & off. This criticism is for all car manufacturers who have opted to alter the wasn’t-broken-don’t-need-to-fix-it standard turnkey ignition. Who decided that the motion of turning a key was just too much work? Instead of letting your designers gadget up something like that, how about working on the mechanical aspects & improving fuel efficiency? Oh never mind, I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car?” It is much more important to have a key that doesn’t need to be in the ignition (Audi) or a car that parks itself (Lexus). If you can’t park your car, you shouldn’t be driving.
On to the slightly less cosmetic… I didn’t have nearly enough time on the highway but I made the most of my 2.8 miles of speeding. If the police ask, this was photoshopped. I was only trying to catch up with the car that passed me. I like the large speedometer & the 2012’s ability to kick some ass quickly but found the gas indicator a little distracting.
I nearly failed to mention that I hate the new turn signal/directional. It doesn’t stay clicked in position until you turn or turn it off yourself after a lane change. It was very hard to figure out if it was on. Turn signals too were fine the way they were.
Before I found out my car was ready, I was listening to NPR so I didn’t realize the radio displayed the song titles. I love that. If I knew it was there, I would have put on “There’s a Law” so that there’d be some irony in breaking the law. By the way, I was listening to The Disciplines. You should too. I don’t think this stereo was as good as the Harman-Kardon though. At loud volumes, there was quite a bit of distortion. At times, I felt a little like the people I make fun of for having a stereo so bass-y that it shakes the plastic aftermarket body kit. I also dislike that the radio buttons aren’t numbered & there was no quick way to switch between a CD & the radio.
None of these cosmetic issues I had outweighed the fact that it was indeed fun to drive. Add in the nice people at Ray Catena Mini of Monmouth & I found myself falling back in love with the Mini Cooper brand. When I picked up Big Papi, I was happy to see that they gave him a bath. Also, I can now back up without beeping, open & close my trunk without lights coming on AND, the best part, drive over 45mph! Separate from the insurance company’s bill, I had them adjust the transmission. My buddy is back!!!! Now, when people ask me how I like my Mini, I can once again tell them just good things.
This is the radio I love AND the super cool plastic window/lock overlay that they should reissue because mine is cracked. I prefer that new climate control though.
A very big thanks to Steve at Mini of Monmouth. I’ll be back for an oil change soon.