Dec 10th, 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. With a dramatically updated automatic coming with the F56 (to be introduced late next year) it’s perhaps a good time to renew our appreciation for that ever engaging piece of old-school technology know simply as “the stick”.
It’s the right of passage many of us graduate to early in life that quickly becomes a badge of honor. It’s the subtle cue to another enthusiast that you’re serious about the art of driving and a student of automotive history. In my mind there are cars that require a manual.
The M3s, 911s or even MCS’ of the world just don’t seem as bare-chested with a pair of flappy paddles. And you know the moment. When you peer into either of those cars and see that dreaded auto knob. Your heart drops just a bit. If you’re a manual driver you care about that car. And you know it’s been wronged by someone who chose ease over interaction on the ordering spec (unless of course it’s a dedicated track car). continued →
Nov 7th, 2012
This op/ed comes to us from veteran MotoringFile contributor and White Roof Radio co-founder, Don Burnside.
Over the years I have had many opportunities to speak directly with those in charge at MINI and MINIUSA. Managers, engineers, marketing folks. All of them are really swell people. All of them also share a goal of customer satisfaction. “Customer” here being the actual purchasers of MINIs (like you and me). It’s what they talk about, what they obsess over. It’s who they are.
Jun 15th, 2012
Back in 2002, BMW and MINI produced only a handful of models; the 3, 5 and 7 series, X5, Z4 and of course the MINI hatch. With the current model line-up that seems like an eternity ago but in reality we are only a decade removed from it. At that time, the new to the market MINI and the high-end Rolls Royce brands each featured only a single body style a piece. While simpler, things were not all rosy. BMW had reached a sales plateau and supplier parts pricing was through the roof, making profit margins slim. Anything but ideal for an independent manufacturer.
After BMW’s failure with Range Rover and the monetary loss due to its sale- it looked like the company was on the brink of collapse or worse yet, being swallowed by a competitor. The board of management made some decisions that would shape the future of the BMW and the group as a whole, allowing each brand to remain, and for the BMW Group to continue to be independent. Of the three MINI was perhaps the biggest gamble. Opinions were wildly split inside BMW at the time as to whether to move forward with the brand or sell just months before it’s 2001 re-launch. The former group won out and in the time since MINI has become an indispensable part of the BMW Group. But that doesn’t mean the BMW Group as a whole is guaranteed to survive long-term with it’s current sales.
Mar 26th, 2012
Ten years ago I played hooky from work for a few hours. After all it was a special day. A new brand from BMW was being introduced to the US that had completely captured my imagination. As a bit of an Anglophile and rabid car enthusiast, I just had to test drive one. If my hunch was correct, I’d likely put in an order afterwards.
As I drove up to the dealer (there were only two in Chicago at the time) I remember reminiscing about what made me a “car guy” in the first place. Some of my first memories are helping my dad under the hood of his BMW 2002. That car sparked something in me that grew into a fascination with design, engineering and of course cars in general. That car seemed like ground zero for a movement. The second shockwave in my automotive life came on that late March day in 2002 when MINI USA opened doors across the country. It felt like history was ready to be written. All I had to do was go drive the car. continued →
Oct 5th, 2011
It’s rare when someone affects our lives as much as Stve Jobs has. Whether you have an iPhone in your pocket or not, Steve Jobs has defined our technological present and future more than any one man in the world. And today he passed away at a young 56.
When the iPod Mini was released, Steve said Apple was inspired by the minimalist design of the MINI itself. He thought the MINI was cool because it was small. Less is more was the idea and the iPod Mini delivered on that in a new smaller form-factor. Why does it matter to us? Because here was a man that created the future by looking at what was around him. In this case it was the MINI that inspired his team. In other cases it was the button on a Lecia Camera. Whatever the situation was, Steve took what was right in the world and created something inspired and new. And ultimately something that changed the world in which we live.
Steve and the people at Apple have inspired automakers like MINI and BMW to create in different and distinctive ways. MINI Connected and BMW ConnectedDrive are here (more or less) due to Apple. But you could go further in saying that BMW’s recent gamble and total re-think of it’s brand with BMWi is more inline with Apple’s re-invention (and Steve Job’s mantra of ‘Stay Foolish’) than anything from BMW in its history. And one could make the argument that the closest automotive equivalent to what Apple has done recently is actually the launch of the original Mini in 1959.
In any case, Steve, we will miss you greatly. continued →
Feb 9th, 2011
I’m not even sure what to say here, folks, to be honest with you. Last night Gabe and I pulled more than 25 comments from the MINI Super Bowl commercial post before just closing comments all together. I’ve seen some sniping and name calling on MotoringFile before (and been on the receiving end of it), but I’ve never seen anything quite like what I read through last night. So, I have a few things to say this morning.
First, an apology for not moderating that thread more closely. It got out of hand and Gabe and I didn’t have our eye on it until it got so bad that people were actually writing in on the Contact page. You would think that on a site full of MINI fans, we wouldn’t have to moderate every single comment moment by moment, but it looks like sometimes that’s the case. Either way, I pulled more nasty comments last night on this one post than the whole time I’ve been Editor here at MotoringFile and I really wish I would have gotten to them sooner.
Second, let’s clarify once and for all what is and isn’t acceptable in the comments.
We want to see more of this:
- Please have an opinion about MINI stuff
- Please disagree with me and Gabe
- Please disagree with each other
- Like things
- Dislike things
- Be passionate
- Be ornery
- Be skeptical
- Be enthusiastic enthusiasts
- Defend the automatic transmission
- Love your clutch
- Hate the very idea of the Countryman
- Passionately endorse your R56 Cooper
All of these things aren’t just acceptable, they’re encouraged. I didn’t delete any comments just because the commenter didn’t like the ad. Hell, I didn’t like it either.
However, we don’t want any of this:
- Trolling (leaving comments with the sole purpose of pushing people’s buttons)
- Thread hijacking (the R53 is great, but that has nothing to do with this post about the Countryman)
- Name calling
- Ad hominem â€” This is the big one. Disagree with ideas and even specific people all you like, but let’s stop attacking the author his or herself just because we disagree with them.
- Defamation â€” This includes race, orientation, geography, automatic transmission preferences, politics, pizza preferences, etc.
We’re all on the same team here, folks. We’re better than this. We’re MINI enthusiasts. This is not YouTube. This isn’t a free-for-all message board. This is MotoringFile. This site is one of the reasons I bought a MINI in the first place and I’m thrilled to be a part of it now in the Editor role. MF wouldn’t be what it is without our readers and yes, our commenters. What I read in the comments for that post is nothing new, but it certainly hit a new low. We’re better than this.
Jan 30th, 2011
(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 â€” 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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