I wrote awhile back about ordering a MINI (yes, the all caps is correct, to distinguish the new MINIs from the older versions, I’m told), and last weekend we picked it up, and I’ve been driving “Maggie” (the first car I’ve ever named, by the way) all this week. I’m in love with a car.
I’m not a car junkie guy. My folks (correctly, in my estimation) made sure I knew how to change oil, fill fluids, change a tire, etc., but I don’t get any kick out of working on them. My car choices to date have been pretty pedestrian (Chevy Beretta, Dodge Intrepid, Ford Taurus, etc.)
I knew the Taurus was going to graduate to be the boys’ car, and I knew I wanted something that got good gas mileage. The Ford F-150 Crew Cab we bought a couple of years ago and rarely used didn’t fit the bill, and ended up being the trade in bait. We would need the Toyota Mini Van for all of us to be in and for road trip, but I didn’t want to commute in it.
At some point, and I don’t know really why, I became intrigued by MINIs. Not because of The Italian Job either…I didn’t see it until after I’d ordered this car. Maybe Austin Powers. So, as noted in the earlier article, I drove MINIs a couple of times, and ordered one a couple of days after Christmas. (Heavy Irony Note: We ordered some furniture from a well-known brand name furniture store in November. It still isn’t here. Our car, built in Oxford, England, came in less than two months. Sheesh.)
Since I ordered Maggie, I was able to enter the order number onto MINI’s website and follow her progress as she was being built. Very cool. I also heard periodically from the dealership, Northwest Mini in Tacoma about the car’s progress.
Now, a word about the dealership and our contact (:::ahem::: “Motoring Advisor”, I’ll have you know, thank you very much) there, Jay Hammon. Best. Car. Buying. Experience. Ever. And honestly, I’ve had some good ones, because most of the time on the bad ones, I walk out. Jay was super nice and super patient and super accommodating. They made the whole thing easy. No BS, no silly dickering, no “what will it take to get you into this car today”. It was like “Hey, we have a pretty cool product. Drive one, if you like it, we’ll hook you up with the one you want, the way you want it. Have a Coke, too.” They gave us more than book for the truck. We never even dickered a bit there. It was a nice truck, and they played fair. How cool is that?
They made the whole buying and financing thing easy. They sent me the forms in advance, I filled them out, and we had our deal in about 15 minutes from when I handed them to Jay. Diane Steeves, the finance manager, was so nice I was stunned. Usually at that stage they are trying to up sell you to death, and act like you’re a moron if you don’t buy every little warranty. They had some deals, they were decent, and we said we’d think about it. Finis. Not a problem, no pressure, lots of laughing, and we were treated like sensical adults, for gosh sakes. Sign the papers, here’s your keys. Nice.
Jay spent a good deal of time showing us how to use the car, especially to convertible top and radio, stuff I could have figured out eventually from the manuals, but this was much easier. Easy to read manuals, though. Oh, and here’s a nice new small road atlas. Here’s a book showing all of our dealerships, where your warranty is good. We have to work on the car more than 3 hours, we give you car to use. You come in for an oil change, we’ll drive you to the mall. We pay for the oil change for 3 years too. And brakes. And wiper blades.
Like I said. Best. Ever.
Now about the car. MINIs are special. They’re quirky. They’re cute. They’re designed by Germans (BMW, specifically) with British style. The car is well thought out. The controls are in reach and make sense. The top works great, and you can retract it with the key fob. It will retract partway to be a moon roof.
The front is comfortable for two. The back seat is a joke, but you know what, Jeri and I went to Costco today in the MINI, and loaded it all up ok. I could even see out the back.
I got a manual, and it works fine. I like manual transmissions on small cars, it adds an extra dimension of fun. This one shifts easy and has plenty of zip for a small four cylinder. It’s easy to turn and park because of the size. I’ve driven it 300 miles…there’s still a little less than 1/2 a tank left.
The radio is a Harmon Kardon, and is very nice. I added an Ipod connector, and while it isn’t as functional as I’d hoped, it is nice and it charges the Ipod as well.
Overall, it is a kick to drive and I look forward to driving her every day. So, I’m officially hooked to a car. If you’re thinking about an economy car, MINIs are well worth a look.