Saturday, April 11, 2009

The MINI at one year

One year into owning my MINI, I must admit I like it more now than ever. It is a great car for what I need, it is as simple as that. Would other cars be as great? Maybe. And those cars may have been cheaper to buy, too. But I still really like my car for these reasons:
  • It drives really well. It is fun on the road, and it doesnt matter what kind of road. The highway, back roads, city streets. There are only two problems with the driving so far: Potholes that a Buick floats over are felt pretty strongly. I don't mind for me, but I worry about the undercarraige of my poor baby (the MINI that is). The second is that this winter there was a lot of snow, and I ended up driving in alot of it without incident. The only problem was very nearly getting stuck at the bottom of a long unplowed driveway. Several attempts to get out were needed before we gained freedom. Lesson learned.
  • The sport seats are exceptionally comfortable. There is plenty of adjustment for me, and the quality of the leather is great. The white piping is a great touch.
  • Mileage. With a mix of highway and city, I get 37+ MPG. If I stick to the highway, I break 40 with the cruise control set at 75. If I slow down, I do better.
  • 99.5% of the time, it is big enough. I had two occasions where we used the other car to haul more people or things. Two. The back seat works for adults if you are just zipping across town. I wouldn't want to make someone stay back there longer than 20 minutes, because the creases might not come out.
  • Fun. Yes, I think it is a fun car to own. It makes me happy to see it, to walk up to it, and to get in. I like looking back over my shoulder as I walk away.
Ok, I admit, like any car there are flaws:
  • The damn controls are confusing. They didn't have to be. The concept should have been to keep things simple, but it got away from them. I would rather have a couple of well marked buttons than fumble with the end of the light switch stalk. And with that huge speedometer, there could have been a bigger display for the settings.
  • The sunroof shade screen could be more opaque, ie more shade producing.
  • The radio on/off switch. Impossible to understand why they put it where they did.
  • The oil dipstick. Impossible to read.
  • Sometimes, the hatch doesn't close all the way, and you get a warning as you are driving off. I'd like the hatch to close easier, and/or the warning to come on before I drive off.
Expensive to own? I think not. I spent $29 for my state inspection, and a few bucks for oil (see above). And with the mileage what it is, I figure I spent about $850 for gas that took me 11,000 miles. And there has been nothing to complain about, quality-wise. The only trip back to the dealer has been the first year check in, and that was free. They took care of the inspection, and gave it a wash.

I doubt that many car companies can provide all that for under $23K, as well equipped as my little one year old.