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Mini Me

April 24, 2006

I’ve looked at a lot of vehicles of the past year (and more) trying to figure out which will be the next one to fill the garage.  It has been a widely varied list, swinging from the Nissan Titan to the Volkswagen GTI and encompassing just about everything in between.

And yet, finally, after vacillating more than John Kerry’s presidential campaign, I’ve settled on the next vehicle.  It is the only one that I’ve kept coming back to, the Mini Cooper S.

If you’re one of those readers who cars nothing about cars, feel free to stop reading now.  If, however, you are curious as to how I arrived at my choice, click below to read the whole story.

My issue with the Mini has always been size.  Jamie and I don’t have kids yet, but that will change, and besides, we already have four dogs, and then there is my mountain biking to consider.  A Mini would be fun, certainly, but would it be appropriate.

My search for something larger led me in all sorts of directions.  In the past two months, I’ve considered and dismissed the BMW 325i (I don’t like trunks, and the 3-Series wagon is ugly), the BMW X3 (pricey), and the Nissan Xterra (it’s gotten big, and with gas prices being what they are, something that gets 16 miles to the gallon doesn’t make much sense).

And then, one night not too long ago, after I had test driven the new Xterra, my darling wife informed me that, even after we get around to having kids, "we won’t both need an SUV".

This got me thinking.  Growing up, my mom always had sedans or, later, SUVs.  My dad, on the other hand, always had some sleek two-door, two-seat sports car (with the exception of a gigantic Chrysler, which, in my memory, he had for about two days).  Somehow, we got along just fine.  And, just like that, I was back to the Mini.

Of course, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Once I had swung back around to the Mini, I had to figure out which Mini.  Let me explain.

The current Mini Cooper has been on sale here since 2002.  Early next year, it will get a complete redesign.  New chassis, new engine, new sheetmetal, new interior, everything.  So the question became – pony up now for a 2006, or wait for the 2007?

It was, and remains, a difficult decision, but ultimately I decided on a 2006.  The way I see it, the current Mini is damn near perfect.  There’s not much I would change.  It drives great, looks great, it has an iPod adapter.  And, nearing the end of its model run, it is about as well-sorted as it can get.

In other words, the next-generation Mini will be hard pressed to top the current one, and even if it does, it is unlikely to top it by much.  On the other hand, I fear it will be far easier for the new Mini to fall short.

It comes down, essentially, to simple risk and reward.  I know I love the current Mini, but I run the risk of the 2007 being phenomenal.  On the other hand, what if I wait for the 2007 only to find that it falls short?  By that point it will be too late to opt for an ’06.  I would rather run the risk of having a car I love, even if it is not the latest, greatest thing, than have to settle for a car that falls short of what I want.

So, this summer, hopefully sometime in June or July, I will be ordering a royal grey 2006 Mini Cooper S with a silver roof, silver bonnet stripes, and a whole host of goodies.



6 Comments leave one →
  1. wife permalink
    April 25, 2006 8:48 am

    Hold on, I want to clarify my part in the saga you just outlined. When Matt and I talked about a Mini versus something more traditionally child friendly, I did not pull the sexist “I’ll be the mommy with the soccer toting kid mobile, and you can be the cool dad with the non-child friendly sports car.” If that had been the case, I would have definetly said…No. You see, I’m not a traditional “wife.” I don’t do Matt’s laundry, and I try to make sure everything is relatively equal. That said, I think the Mini is completely child friendly for at least one if possible two kids. There is a pretty sizeable backseat completely capable of holding a car seat safely. So my point is that althought the Mini is not a kid-carting SUV, it is completly capable of carrying a mom, dad, and child safely and comfortably.

    Just wanted to clarify….carry on….


  2. April 25, 2006 10:15 am

    As usual, Jamie is right…

    I never meant to imply that the Mini was a non-child friendly sports car (and, for the record, I recall that red Nissan Z as being rather child-friendly. It would even talk, just like KITT from Knight Rider…).

    My intent was to point out my realization that, growing up, my dad had a succession of, well, less-than-practical cars, and I turned out just fine (well…). Next to a Nissan Z or a Jaguar XJS, a Mini is a pretty darn sensible car.

  3. April 25, 2006 10:17 am

    Honey…on reading your comment a second time, I have to wonder if it isn’t some veiled plea…

    You want a minivan, don’t you? It’s okay, you can admit it…

  4. wife permalink
    April 25, 2006 10:34 am

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! (no offense JB or Jenny)

  5. April 25, 2006 10:57 am

    “As ususal Jamie is right”

    Sure sounds like a traditional wife to me….

  6. April 25, 2006 1:20 pm

    Absoultley none taken. When it really comes down to it – you can fit a kid almost anywhere, it comes down to what is safe and what you like. I know you may not want the mini-van now, but just wait. When you wrench you back bending in a akward position trying to put a squirming, kicking toddler in the back seat with a big old diaper bag slung over your shoulder, them try to fit the stoller in trunk while not squishing the rest of your groceries, you may have second thoughts. No one ever really wants the Mini Van, but once you have it, you can’t imagine life without it. Oh yea, by the way, did I mention that my wife drives the Mini Van?

    Matt, you are forgetting about the awesome Honda Accord / Mazda GLC duo that we had for a long time.

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