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2008 Mazda6

June 19, 2007

The Mini is doing great, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep an eye on the horizon for what might be my next car.   Because, at this rate, there’s pretty much no chance it will be another Mini.

Now, that’s not a dig at the Mini itself, but rather the service and support infrastructure that surrounds the car.  Being British, the Mini’s electronics are far from perfect – the Tire Pressure Monitor has cried wolf so many times that it is impossible to tell when it is serious and when it is not – necessitating semi-frequent trips to the dealer for warranty service.  Unfortunately, in an oversight of epic proportions, there is no Mini dealer in Austin.  Which means that, when this light or that comes on or something goes wrong, I have to take the day off work and haul myself down to San Antonio.  This is frustrating enough, and when you add to that frustration the general atmosphere of indifference pervading the service department, it makes for a rather unpleasant experience.

In case you are wondering, the Brake Pad Warning Indicator has illuminated for the second time in the past few months.  I’ll be heading to San Antonio next week.

Anyway…the field of contenders for the next car (don’t worry, this is probably several years away) is actually quite slim.  My basic requirements are:

  • Handling – I want a car that is fun to drive, especially on twisting roads with little to no traffic.  But nothing too isolated.  Nothing that holds back any real visceral sensation until you’ve doubled the speed limit.
  • Design – The car can’t look like ass. 
  • Doors – Four.  Kids will likely be in the picture by the time the next car comes into play, and those extra doors will be nice.  Also, Smith wants a window to stick his head out of when we drive through the neighborhood. 
  • Fuel – Yeah, I’ve had enough of supreme/ultimate/"Shellpower" or whatever the hell it is.  Give me regular gas (or diesel, as the case may be).  And decent fuel economy.  I won’t necessarily hold out for 50 miles per gallon, but I’d like to average around 25 if I can.
  • No Trunks – Trunks are stupid.  Wagons and five-doors actually have better aerodynamics, not to mention more cargo space and a better layout for the canine passengers.

Those criteria, admittedly, don’t leave me with much.  As of now, I’ve got my eye on the Mazda3, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen, and possibly the Mazda6, due for a redesign at the end of the year.  I’m a big fan of the current Mazda6 5-door, which is a hatchback disguised as a sedan, and have been keeping an eye out for any decent glimpse at the next generation, to no avail.  Until today, that is.  Here’s a little rendering of what the new Mazda6 might look like.

Mazda6_42_2

If Mazda gets the new 6 right, and if they keep the awesome 5-door layout (trunks still suck), it’ll jump its way up to the top of the list.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    June 20, 2007 9:51 am

    Couldn’t help it could ya? I’m sure in 6 months this list will be totlly different. Even so, I thought I’d give you my 2 sense:

    1. What if I want a Mazda 3? We can’t both have them. I guess if you have to have I could go the CRV route.

    2. The Jetta, at least in the picture you have linked, is ugly! It looks very station wagony.

    3. And I don’t know the Mazda 6 looks kind of boring.

    So there you go…Any other ideas?

  2. Jamie permalink
    June 20, 2007 9:52 am

    Oops, I should reread my comment before hitting post….I meant 2 cents, not 2 sense. Yeah, I know…

  3. June 20, 2007 5:04 pm

    Hey Matt, my sister is trying to talk my dad into getting her a Mini but he is balking at the idea. Can you give me a mini-review that I could pass on to him? He is mostly concerned with safety and maintenance costs…

  4. June 21, 2007 6:16 am

    Sure thing…but keep in mind that mine’s the previous generation, not the one that’s on sale now.

    Handling – Maybe not as go-kart like as the marketing would have you believe, but these things a very nimble. The short wheelbase and BMW’d suspension makes it a bit choppy over poorly paved roads. But if you like tightly sprung and agile cars, it’s about the best out there. I know people who’ve traded in Porsches for Minis based on steering feel.

    Interior – Love mine. Good quality materials, comfy seats. A lot more room than you imagine looking at them from the outside. Deceptive amount of cargo space, too. The giant moonroof is a big plus.

    Fuel Economy – Disappointing in mine, which usually hangs out around twenty. The new generation that came out in January is supposed to be MUCH better about this. The Cooper S still takes premium.

    Safety – Never been in a wreck in a Mini, so I can’t say firsthand, but if you go to North American Motoring and search the Forum for crashes or safety, you’ll find tons of accident reports. The Mini seems to hold up very well. There’s a good chance it’ll destroy itself in a wreck, but it’s designed to do that so that it saves you. I wouldn’t have bought one if I wasn’t confident about its safety. And there’s also the “active safety” to consider – it’s so small and nimble that it can get out of a lot of situations that would result in wrecks for other, bigger cars.

    Maintenance – Everything but tires is covered for the course of the warranty (over and above warranty service). If you have a good Mini dealer (more importantly, a good service dept.) that’s relatively nearby, that helps. All of my issues stem from the fact that I 1) have to drive to another city for service and 2) get treated like crap upon arrival.

    They are not for everybody, but Minis are great little cars.

  5. Kay permalink
    June 21, 2007 5:36 pm

    I love my Mini…and I can’t believe you’re looking ahead to your Mini’s replacement…actually, I can.

  6. June 21, 2007 6:07 pm

    Well…it’s not like I’m talking about tomorrow. More like 2010/2011 or even later, depending on how the Mini behaves once the warranty goes up.

    Of course, in a perfect world, I could keep it as a third/runabout car.

  7. Carlos permalink
    February 17, 2008 9:18 pm

    I live in Austin and have been thinking about getting a mini in San Antonio. I am hesitant because of thinking about having to schlep 87 miles any time I needed to get to the dealer. Reading about your experience makes me even less likely to do that.

    Have you heard anything about Austin possibly getting dealership?

    Thanks.

  8. Matt permalink*
    February 19, 2008 4:15 pm

    Hi Carlos – I don’t think Austin will be getting a dealership anytime soon. Which is most unfortunate – Austin is a FAR better demographic fit for Mini than San Antonio (in fact, nearly as many Minis are registered in Austin as are in SA, which should tell you something). Apparently it goes back to the launch of the brand, when individual dealers had to bid to score Mini stores.

    That said…in my opinion the Mini is such a great car that the drive to San Antonio is worth it – barely.

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