Saturday, February 12, 2022

Car Stuff

 Now for something completely different ...

Last September, while driving on the interstate, we ran over a piece of metal.  It banged up the passenger door pretty badly and ripped several pieces of trim off the side.  Fortunately, there was no structural damage and we could continue to drive the car with no problems.  Unfortunately, parts and shipping availability meant that it was five months before the shop had everything they needed to do the repairs.  We dropped the car off last week and picked up a rental. I thought we got lucky: they had a Mini Cooper on the lot.  Very cool!  I'd never driven one before.  I signed the papers and off I went.

I hated it.

As it turns out, Minis have the most unintuitive and annoying controls you can imagine.  Things you'd expect to be manual are electrical, and things you'd expect to be electrical are manual.  The shift lever doesn't operate the way any other shift lever does.  The infotainment system requires multiple button punches just to get beyond the "don't operate this while you're driving" alerts.  Brakes are grabby.  The engine shuts down when the car is stopped, then starts up again as soon as you put your foot on the gas, meaning there's a slight delay between your foot and actual movement, which could be critical in squeezing into traffic.  The "fasten your seatbelt" alarm is particularly annoying.  The door has a tinny sound when it's pulled closed.  

This was a Mini Cooper Countryman, which meant it was like a Mini that ballooned in size.  It's way bigger than a Mini should be.  It's much taller than my Mazda 3 and is more like a mid-sized Subaru.  It's a Massive Mini.  It even feels top-heavy in corners.  It just feels ... wrong.  It's not mini at all.

The good points?  It handles like a go kart and is a gas miser.  

I might have liked a real Mini, especially one with a stick shift, and one that didn't shut off the engine at stoplights.  I might've been able to put up with all the other annoyances.  But all together, no.  My Mazda is an infinitely better car.  And the next time I need a rental, I'll go for anything else.

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