To Be, Or Not To Be...
Fun, that is. And it certainly won't disappoint after nearly 10 years on the road.
The Mini Cooper is one of the most iconic cars of all time, and whilst driving one today, I couldn’t decide if I felt more like Mark Wahlberg in “The Italian Job”, or Mr. Bean. Either way, you’ll still crack a smile behind the wheel after driving it, or even after noticing all the little quirks and features inside. The first thing you notice, or don’t notice because it’s not right there in front of you, is the speedometer. Yes, I forgot where it was for a second when I was on the highway and mildly panicked, then I remembered where they are in a Mini… Rookie mistake.
Driving the Mini is still a very involving experience, despite this one being an automatic. You can turn any road into a go-kart track with this car and that’s why so many people just had to have one. Yes the original Mini was a sensible, front wheel drive car for the daily commute to work, and it still is. The Mini I drove wasn’t an S, so there was a little lag when accelerating from a stop but nonetheless still quick enough to keep up with traffic. The fear of being the square in the automobile version of “Pong” won’t go away, especially when a Suburban passes you going 80, but it’s not as terrifying as driving a Chevy Spark north of 35 miles an hour. The Mini is still fun to drive and a viable alternative to anyone who wants to chop off two doors but still have seats in the back that actually fit people.
Inside you’ll find that it’s actually pretty roomy (having the sunroof definitely helps with that). Carrying three other people with you is tight, but manageable. Some of the easter eggs inside the car include lighting fixtures on the B-pillars, a Mini-shaped recirculation button, and aircraft switches for lights, windows, door locks, and sunroof controls. The switches definitely add to the cool-factor; you’ll need to request clearance from the tower before departing the driveway. Outside the Mini is instantly recognizable as a Mini, which is what one of the designers, Frank Stephenson, had in mind when he and his team were given full creative power over the project. It was important that they kept with the original idea, but made it feel more modern to fit with today's market. The white rally stripes, mirrors, and roof make the Mini stand apart from other cars at a red light, and in the parking lot; if you don't lose the car behind a medium-sized bush.
All around the Mini Cooper is a great compact car that is definitely worth consideration if you want something other than the cars in your driveway to zip over to work in. Keep in mind that it’s still a BMW underneath the skin and will likely need more intensive maintenance after so many consecutive miles. It takes premium gas but doesn’t break the bank after every fill up since it’s only a 13 gallon tank. I think it’s a great car you’re sure to have fun in, but don’t smile too much or else everyone who hasn’t driven one will think you’re weird.