Apr 29th, 2013
In Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, the narrator takes the reader on a journey that explores the nature of “Quality” as a thing we all instinctually understand, but none of us can adequately define. His conclusion [SPOILER ALERT] is that what we perceive (if only peripherally) as quality is itself the source of all existence, and that quality is achieved when a person takes care to do, or build, or fix something well. That’s a rather inadequate summary of a book full of interesting ideas, but that concept of quality, and especially its definition, has me thinking about the word and its relationship to the next generation MINI, the F56. In fact it has me thinking about what the real secret sauce is when it comes to making a MINI a MINI. Hint – it’s not a central speedometer.
Apr 23rd, 2013
Bold claim for sure. But the recent warm and sunny weather in Chicago has me thinking the JCW Roadster may just represent the best every day car money can buy. Obviously, a statement like that should be filled with asterisks and qualifiers. But before we get into all that, lets back up and talk about why. First off, I’m specifically referring to urban commuting. Small parking spots and lots of tight streets. What the Roadster offers is a tidy package that provides plenty of thrills while being efficient in both its use of fuel and space. In terms of raw numbers consider this; I’m seeing (with a very heavy right foot) close to 30 mpg (US) in the stop and go commuting duty.
There’s also the simple thrill of driving a small MINI. A quick steering rack and all the visceral thrill you can stand in a day to day car. In short, stepping foot into any MINI every day should put a smile on your face. continued →
Apr 2nd, 2013
I’ve been reading a lot of criticism of the new MINI interior. These critiques range from smart, to blunt with no real rationale. So I wanted to weigh in not as MotoringFile, but just as Gabe Bridger, the person who founded this site and has (for good and bad) an intimate knowledge of the cars, the design team, and the technical realities surrounding this next generation MINI.
The problem many of you have pointed out is a lack of clear direction. A “square peg in a round hole” both figuratively and literally. First, let’s back up a bit and start at the beginning.
Feb 25th, 2013
MINI is a car brand that means a lot of different things to a great many people. For some, it’s about economy. For others, it’s style. For many, MINI is about performance. Thing is, they’re all right. MINI is a brand and a range of cars intended to live in a variety of sweet spots at the intersections of these often conflicting areas of focus. As I left the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, behind the wheel of a Starlight Blue MINI Paceman Cooper S ALL4, I wondered just where on that multi-axis spectrum of MINI-ness this particular car would land. For MotoringFile, this would be our second time behind the wheel of MINI’s larger 2-door. Gabe drove the R61 back in November of last year. You can find his thoughts here, but this time around it was up to me and the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to see what MINI’s new slope-backed 2-door was all about. continued →
Jan 1st, 2013
We love MINI and we are pretty fond of the Goodwood as well. But over the years we haven’t pulled any punches in second guessing some design and specification choices are various MINI models – especially JCW. And now it’s your turn. We want to hear how you’d change MINI highest priced model – the Goodwood. continued →
Dec 29th, 2012
The following is an editorial that wasn’t influenced by advertising on this site but more inspired by what it and what it means for the future.
As those of you in the US have likely noticed, MotoringFile’s advertising partner MINI of Chicago is now offering the $52,000 MINI Goodwood for an astonishing price of $39,995. That’s over $12k off the list price and surely not what MINI had in mind when they created such an exclusive car. For the right buyer it represents an incredible value. But for any future MINI high-end special editions, it could be a little troubling.
The Goodwood has no exclusive exterior styling or even wheels. Designers at Rolls Royce didn’t want to create a car that was an extrovert. As is their philosophy, they simply wanted to created understated elegance that led into a rich and sumptuous driver environment. For a MINI owners used to seeing Union Jacks decals and white wheels, it’s a foreign idea. But for the Roll Royce owner (or anyone with a similar mind-set) the exterior is for the world, the interior is for them. continued →
Dec 11th, 2012
This week from the MF Vault we’re re-visiting a couple of features we published last year giving opposing views on everyone’s favorite debate: auto vs manual. In part two of our manual vs automatic debate we’re writing about the unyielding march of technology and how that’s actually a good thing, even for manual drivers.
The manual is a dying breed. Why? Because of progress. While rowing the gears of a manual can be a great experience, it’s simply time to move on and start experiencing new technology and new kinds of involvement.
But first, let’s talk about how the auto liberated the sports car and made all cars less boring. 40 years ago a sports car or even a sporty car rarely had an auto available. That meant manual transmissions were exclusive to those who knew how to drive them or those who could stomach the left foot shuffle that US traffic made mandatory. But as car makers started realizing that the lowly automatic could indeed be sporty, they started dropping them into everything. While some bemoaned the loss of a few sacred cows, it started to break down walls for many of us. In effect, it democratized sports cars for the masses. continued →
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