Tuesday, February 27, 2007

'07 MINI Cooper S First Thoughts

I drove an S while down at South Atl MINI. This car did not have the sports suspension on it.


Sparkling Silver looks really good, new Mellow Yellow is different but grew on me the longer I looked at it. New blues are both nice. Cant wait to see one with lowering springs. Like the new sunroof, rear lights look cool with the little MINI badge on them. Really don't like the blacked out hood scoop. Will be interesting to see what the after market guys can do with this and the intake. After looking at the engine for about an hour, the air intake on the car is about 2"x3" and is next to the headlights, covered up by the hood! When someone comes up with a new intake that can use the scoop you will get some good hp gains I think.
New battery placement is interesting. (anyone notice where it was?)

Looks much more put together than the R53s, everything is in the right spot. New seats are soooo much better. Still hoping they bring the Recaros over though. Love the telescoping steering wheel. Only minus about the interior to me is the dead peddle placement. Much closer to the seat than before, really bugged me, I would have to take it out if I bought an 07.

Don't know why you would ever turn the sport button off. Steering is ok. Not near as direct as before. Power band is different, there is a little turbo lag but not like the old turbo days. The car will get up and go but there is something missing without the exhaust burble and the supercharger whine.

Overall, really liked the car though I wont be trading in the 04 any time soon. I think the problem is it is too German. The previous MINI ('02-06) was designed by Rover and built in a BMW plant. This time around everything is done by BMW. It ends up being a very good car, build quality is amazing. But it is lacking something, it is lacking the soul, the quirks of the previous car, the Britishness I guess. My MINI is a British car, the '07s are German cars that are assmebled in Oxford. I am really excited to see what the new JCW will be and what the aftermarket guys can do with this car, I do think the limits that the aftermarket will push this car will be greater than the old ones.

Monday, February 26, 2007

MINIs and Micros Drive

I lead the ATLANTAMINIS drive through Madison and to the Microcar Museum in Madison this past weekend. Rained all morning but stopped when we got to the Blue Willow Inn. Great lunch and perfect weather followed for the drive to the Museum. Website for the Museum is here.
The place is amazing! If you are ever in the Madison area during the week then I highly suggest that you stop in.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Direction

Since not much has been happening with the TR in the last few weeks I have been thinking of taking this blog in a bit of a different direction. I will still add updates on the TR and the MINI but will be throwing in my thoughts about other cars that I drive while on the road or when I stop into a dealership.

Let's start with the Pontiac Vibe:

Rented one of these while up in New York state this past week. I guess it was a pretty basic model (only option that I can figure is the "premium" package). Not a bad looking car (of course this is coming from someone who has only owned one non-wagon/hatchback ever, the TR4a) lots of room all around. Tailgate worked well and there was more room behind the rear seats than in the Impreza/9-2x wagon. Don't really understand the glass only opening option, never used it and I think the opening is really too small to do any good. Back seats give good leg and head room and aren't that bad for rear bench seats. Front seats are nice, very supportive. After driving 5-6 hours across the state of NY I was surprised how good I felt. I am usually ready to rip the seats out of my MINI after sitting in them for 4, so the drivers seat gets a big thumbs up. Only real beef about the driving position is the dead peddle. To close to the seat and is at a strange angle, had to keep my foot off to the side and almost under the brake peddle to be comfortable. "If" I owned one of these I would figure some way to tear that thing out. Basic audio was pretty good, easy controls within easy reach, even sounds good. Negative is that if you wear polarized sunglasses you can't read the info on the radio at all (wish more carmakers would take this into consideration). The drive, well it wasn't bad. Reverse gear was really twitchy while 1st gear seemed really sluggish, odd. Steering had better feedback that I would have guessed and the car didn't have that much body roll on the on-ramps. Engine did seem to struggle up hills at interstate speed, having to shift out of overdrive to keep up, this is the only time I noticed the engine noise so that is a plus. The claimed gas mileage is 29/34 with the auto box. No way, I got closer to 27 while on extended highway driving, good but not the 34 that they claim and not even the 29 that you might get in the city.

Anyway, I would give the Vibe a solid B. Nothing fancy, gets the job done hauling me all around the state of NY. If I needed a cheap (sub $20k) semi-suv/wagon/hatch/crossover thing (it's a wagon) then I would look at the Vibe and get the cheap version.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I need one of these...

New Escort Passport 9500ifuzz buster....very sweet.It has GPS for crying out loud!