March 5, 2012

Mini Cooper Owners' Cheat Sheet and FAQ

I am the proud owner of a 2008 Mellow Yellow Mini Cooper whom I have named Donovan.  I joke that not only is my relationship with him the longest, most stable one I’ve had, but that I like to ride him hard and put him away wet.  I’ve had people roll down their windows at stoplights, flag me in parking lots, and corner me in elevators to ask me about him.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll talk to anybody and I adore the car.  But, I thought perhaps it might save time to have a list of the questions I get asked all in one place. 


Q: How do you like that little car? (My favorite example of when this was posed to me was by a cop who had just gotten done writing me a speeding ticket.)
A: I love it!  It’s truly a joy to drive.

Q: What kind of gas mileage do you get?
A: Me personally?  I get about 32 mpg.  However, if you drive a little more conservatively, you can do better.  I’ve known people to get upwards of 45 if they baby the engine.

Q: If yours the turbo version?
A: Believe me, I’d LOVE to have an S.  Mine is not, it’s the standard 4cyl without the turbocharger.  I would pay for it in speeding tickets to have that.  However, it’s plenty peppy as is.

As a tip, you can tell if a mini is the turbo model (aside from the badging) by the cold air return vent on the bonnet and the twin tailpipes on the back.

Q: What’s sticker on something like that?
A: Mine was on the lower end of the price spectrum, barely under $23,000 new.  However, given the different models and trim levels to choose from, you can go anywhere from $18,000 to over $40,000 for a tricked out John Cooper Works edition.

Q: They’re British, right?
A: Historycally, yes.  However, BMW bought the Cooper brand and Incorporated it into their BMW family.  Mine is a baby beemer and was made in Germany.  (You can tell a vehicle’s country of origin by checking the first digit in the VIN.  Mine starts with a W, for example.)  

Q: Are they front wheel drive?
A: Yes.  However, with the new 4 door Countryman, you have the option of all wheel drive.

Q: How do you get around in snow?
A: Pretty well, actually.  It’s a manual, so I have more control over the torque, which is nice.  The only time I have trouble is when we’ve got some serious accumulation because I don’t have great ground clearance, or when it’s icy.  I don’t have much weight to the car, so ice can be a problem for traction.  However, my thinking is that if it’s that slick out, I have nowhere I need to be that badly.  Maybe with tires made for winter weather, this would be a non-issue, but I don’t have the cash or the storage space for seasonal tires.  

Q: Why yellow?  That doesn’t seem like a color I’d pick for you.
A: Well, when it came time to get Donovan, he was the last 2008 on the lot.  As such, in an effort to get rid of it, Markel was willing to deal.  Bear in mind, in 2008, gas prices were really high, and anything with great MPG was being snatched up left and right.  I don’t dislike the color, it’s obnoxious and easy to spot in a parking lot.  Plus, it led to his name a few days later.

Q: Where did the name Donovan come from?
A: Well, it’s kind of a thing for Cooper drivers to name their cars.  I was looking for a good, British name to give a nod to the car’s roots.  The color if the car is called Mellow Yellow.  That got me thinking about the singer, Donovan.  Turns out, he’s from the UK.  So, Donovan kinda stuck for my car.

Q: Don’t you think your saying “You liked him so much, you put a ring on it.” is a bit much?
A: Eh, probably.  But excess and I have a relationship that stretches back for decades.  The reason I say this is that I’ve signed two contracts on him.  The first was a 3 year lease.  Due to a few external factors, when the lease expired, I decided to buy him.  I couldn’t be happier.  To ham it up, I even dressed up on the day I was supposed to sign the papers.  

Q: They’re not really practical cars though, are they?
A: I’d argue that.  I think it’s exceptionally practical for me.  I don’t have kids, so the fact that it’s a two door isn’t an issue.  As far as weather goes, if you ask me, it’s not sound to make a purchase decision on a hypothetical.  Meaning, I know I’ll get better gas mileage, but I don’t know that we’ll have weather so bad that I can’t drive it.  And even if we do, it’s usually no more than 10 days a year.  If you were to tell me that I’m never going to be able to haul anything around, I’d tell you that I’ve had 7 loads of laundry in the back at once.  If that doesn’t mean anything to you, I’ve also had a 42” TV back there.  It’s nice to have a sexy hatchback.  (Though, I’ll admit that because of the perception of not being able to tote around much, very few people ask me to help them move.  I’m ok with this.)

Q: Yeah, well, I bet anybody over 5 foot eleven can’t fit in there.
A:  Also not true.  Sure, there was some maneuvering to be done, but I’ve had a friend of mine who was six foot five in my car.  As a caveat though, I do not have the panoramic sunroof.  So, I have a little more headroom.  

Q: What do you think of the other models?
A: Well, I think MINI is really expanding as of late.  It started with the convertible, which I don’t love.  Something about the roof makes it look too much like a WV Beetle.  The coupe, which is new this model year grew on me.  I saw initial photos and didn’t like it.  But, once I saw on in person, I liked it.  The countryman, the 3 door with hearse doors in the back, I thought I liked till I had a chance to drive one as a loaner.  Yeah, the hearse doors are sexy in that creepy, Harold and Maude sort of way.  But that seam between them really hinders visibility.  I love the turbocharged ones, but I also know that A) you have to put premium fuel in it, and B) I would pay for the car in speeding tickets.   However, I would REALLY adore having a John Cooper Works edition to snuggle up to and caress a few hairpin turns with.  I’ll totally cop to that.

Though, the only edition that I can say I don’t like at all is the 4 door countryman.  It’s...  Well.  To me it looks like a Toureg someone washed in hot water.  It’s not a mini, it’s a damn medium.  Granted, having the bucket seats in the back and the optional all wheel drive is kinda cool, it’s missing something that makes a mini a mini.  Maybe the fact that it's as tall as I am, rather than having the roof of the car being at chin level.  That could be it.

Q: Would you recommend one to your friends?
A: Absolutely!  They're a blast to drive, easy to find in parking lots (provided you're not surrounded by huge SUVs or trucks) and have a fantastic warranty.  Plus, the local dealership has done nothing but treat me like their best and most loyal customer.  I know darn well that my little vehicle didn't cost as much as most of the cars they sell, but that hasn't stopped them from treating me very, very well.  Hats off to a store that makes the car biz seem a little less slimy, one loudmouthed blogger at a time. 

I really have nothing bad to say about the car or the brand at this point.  I know, being that it's a luxury brand, that it will, someday be expensive if something major goes wrong after my maintenance plan expires.  But, that's a calculated risk.  

So, in short, yeah, I love my car.  I'm a mini cooper girl, and proud of it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.