METALandMIRRORS: Life: The Epiphany - 2016 Mini Cooper S Electric Blue Metallic (Post #1)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Life: The Epiphany - 2016 Mini Cooper S Electric Blue Metallic (Post #1)

April 8th. The day I realized my version of the "Little Engine That Could".  The photos below are from my stock purchase off the lot.  Paint scheme is Electric Blue Metallic.  
It was there in front of me for years.  Never considered this "bullet with tires" if you will.  My wife and I recently moved; downsized from a cape cod with four acres, two garages and large parking area, to a ranch with a third of an acre and a standard two car garage.  As a result, I had this enormous Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab that was severely under utilized, not to mention consuming a significant portion of my driveway.  And I really enjoyed the Ram too just so you know.  Further more, I had easy access to a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 series since my father was no longer able to drive.  It was time I made a decision.  If I could downsize the home, I could downsize the car too.  

This was an considerable change in direction for me given my past vehicle ownership.  The last three vehicles I owned were either trucks or SUV's.  However, I had at one time owned a Chevrolet Cavalier, so I was familiar with smaller cars and their performance characteristics.  I wasn't totally na├»ve to the expectation.  Oh, and by the way, my wife purchased a Mini too.  Traded in her Dodge Journey for one almost exactly like mine the same day.  :-)  That's another story one day.  


Here's a great lesson: Don't purchase a Mini Cooper unless you own an enclosed, lockable garage. Otherwise, you'll get to talk to your neighbors until 11 o'clock at night. And, they'll come a-knocking, begging a peek, bringing pies and pulling out their phones for photo ops.  Yes, they really do garner that much attention when you can get up close.  Let's face it, Mini dealerships are not on every corner like every other dealer is.  

I'll say this for the approximate two months I've owned my Mini.  It has an exceptional blend of quickness and fuel-efficiency; crisp handling and a premium interior.  The sunroof is really amazing; makes you feel like you're almost in a convertible.  My experience so far is the overall ride is very solid.  It has a stiff body, and pretty good at absorbing bumps. The Sport mode is just a thrill you have to experience...more on that down the road.  The storage space is definitely lacking. Just about the only main complaint I really have.  Unfortunately, Mini removed the secret compartment on the dashboard for 2016 models reducing storage space that's practically non existent. :-(  Hey, it can't all be positive and maintain a realistic review.  

We both purchased the Cooper S version which adds a more powerful engine, hood scoop, dual center-mounted exhaust tips, 17-inch wheels with run-flat tires, LED fog lights, sport seats (mine a mix of cloth and leather), LED headlights, adjustable suspension dampers, dual-pane sunroof, roof spoiler, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heads-up display, 8.8-inch central display screen, a navigation system, smartphone app integration, heated front seats, satellite radio, and a six-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.  AND BREATH, LOL.  Yes, a lot packed into this little beauty.  And yes, you can customize these cars to your hearts content.  

The Cooper S is also powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.  haven't tested this (yet), but automotive tests have clocked the Cooper S from zero to 60 in 6.3 seconds. I know what you're thinking...you will give almost anything a run for it's money in this car.  With a top speed around 140 MPH, yes, you may be in a small car, but you will command a large audience when the rubber hits the road.  Fuel economy for both body styles is estimated at 29 mpg combined (26/33) with the automatic version we both purchased.  I've tracked every gas refill since day 1, and I'm seeing an average city/highway fuel combination of 36.07 mpg. With an 11.6 gallon fuel tank, I can approach close to 400 miles on any given tank.  And when I do fill up, it's less than $25.00 a tank given average fuel prices as of this update.  

Loved the crash test ratings too.  The two-door Cooper received four out of five possible stars for overall protection, with four stars for total front crash protection and four stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Cooper hatchback its top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset crash tests, as well as a "Good" score in the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraints/seats (whiplash protection) tests.

Without going into to much detail right now, the Mini's controls are easy to reach and the toggle switches on the upper and lower part of the center stack are sweet. Some minor ergonomic issues, though (yep, still a Mini!), such as interference from the center armrest when it's lowered and lack of visibility out the windshield for real tall drivers. However, the gauges are very easy-to-read, and the 8.8-inch central display screen is fantastic for its sophisticated feature set, exceptionally crisp graphics and split-screen function.  The display is operated by a controller knob on the center console. It takes some time to learn how to use, and the knob's location is a bit awkward, but overall it's a comprehensive and very useful system.

I have to say that with its small footprint, low center of gravity and light weight, it has excellent handling characteristics.  It really is a joy to drive. And with all the ubiquitous roundabouts, slipping the car into Sport mode and taking the turns like a NASCAR veteran, has me smiling more than a kid at Christmas time.   Parking is now a piece of cake too.  The trade-off for its driving dynamics is a firm ride that borders on bumpy for some, but I haven't really seen this as an issue.  

Going forward, I'll be covering every interior switch and compartment my vehicle is equipped with, what it does, and how often I actually use it.  I'll also keep a track on fuel economy and long-term satisfaction.  Finally, I did purchase two exterior add-ons within two weeks of my original purchase to give it a slightly more customized look.  One is the BLACK/GREY CHECKERED SIDE SCUTTLES ($193.00) and the BLACK/GREY CHECKERED FLAG MIRROR CAPS ($200.00).  Given how recent my purchase was, the dealership installed all parts for approximately $100.00 in labor charges.  I'll post separate photos in the next update to show the contrast.  

Until the next post...Motor on!




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