What’s my ride? – Julie

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Last month I posted a short gadget diary entry about my new gadget transport system. Andy Chen suggested that the whole team should do a “What’s my ride?” series of posts similar to our “What’s in your bag?” and daily use apps posts. I’m up first with my brand new 2013 MINI Cooper S hardtop.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

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I’ve wanted a MINI for as long as I can remember, but I wasn’t in a position to buy one till now. While on vacation in Indianapolis this past May, we stopped at Dryer and Reinbold, the only MINI dealership in Indiana. I had originally wanted to test drive the larger MINI Countryman because Jeanne didn’t want me in a car smaller than my Mazda 3, but after test driving a Countryman, I immediately knew I preferred the smaller and more nimble Cooper. That afternoon we test drove 3 cars and then I went home thinking that I had gotten the lust for a MINI out of my system for awhile. The next day I told Jeanne that I was just going to hold off getting another car because there was absolutely nothing wrong with my Mazda. She actually seemed disappointed and talked me into calling the dealership and doing a custom order – it didn’t really take much arm twisting ;)

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I decided to do a custom order because I didn’t want a sun roof. I had one in my Mazda and had only had it open once or twice in the 8 years that I’d had the car. I also wanted to experience ordering a new car, which I’d never done before. We went back up the dealership the next weekend so I could test drive all three engine types. The Cooper, Cooper S and the John Cooper Works. I ended up with the MINI Cooper S which was plenty peppy. The JCW was crazy fast, but would have gotten me into way too much trouble…

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I chose an automatic Kite Blue with a white top, white racing stripes on the bonnet, different wheels, mud flaps, Xenon headlights, driving lights, leather heated seats, Harmon Kardon sound system and SiriusXM radio. The MINIs are made in Oxford England, so it took about 6 weeks to build and then ship it over – literally… on a ship :)

I’ve been driving it for a month and I love it. It’s my favorite car of all time and is so fun to drive. I’ve already washed it more times that I washed my Mazda in all the years I had it. Ha!

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I think it needs some stripes on the boot too… What do you guys think?

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Don’t pay attention to my camo pants… I’m not a hunter or anything. They are pajamas. :)

You would think that the interior of the MINI being mini sized and all, would be cramped. It’s not. It feels just as comfortable and roomy as my Mazda. I wouldn’t care to ride in the back seat, but I don’t usually have more than one passenger, so I don’t find that to be a problem.

The buttons and switches for everything are pretty well laid out although if I could redesign things, I’d make a few changes/additions. I think it’s weird that the window controls are in the center console instead the door like all the others I’ve ever driven. I also wish the sport button was on the steering wheel. That button makes the already peppy MINI even peppier. I just never remember to use it because it’s down next to the gear shift.

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I’d get rid of the 2nd speedometer too. Although it looks cool, I’d rather use that space for a better display for the radio. As is, the radio display looks very old school / low tech. I had originally decided that I was going to get their nav system which did replace that speedometer with a digital display. The sales manager talked me out of it though. First of all I think it was a $1700 option and secondly he said why lock yourself into a technology that changes every couple of years when you will always have your phone with you. Duh… good point. And as luck would have it, I was offered a car mount to review that allows me to easily mount and unmount my phone just for that purpose.

I’d love a backup camera that would display on my phone, but other than that and potentially adding some stripes to the back, I can’t think of anything else to add to the car.

The MINI Cooper S is definitely my biggest gadget purchase of the year and my life for that matter.

Posted in: Articles, Car Gear

{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Mike Roselius September 6, 2013, 10:10 am

    Nice ride!

    I’d be interested to know briefly about your buying experience. Specifically, did you get any discounts off the MSRP? Did the fact that you special ordered it change your price v.s. buying something off the lot? In other words did you have to pay sticker as opposed to saving some money getting something already there?

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 10:20 am

    @Mike The dealership I went to didn’t give any discounts, deals, etc. Custom ordering did not cost any extra than buying a car off the lot – I just got exactly what I wanted by ordering and waiting.

  • Chris Miller September 6, 2013, 11:22 am

    I’d love to know more about the vehicle mount as I need one for exactly the same reason you do, and I like the placement of yours of which I assume is not permanent? Can you let me know the name of the product, or at least when your review might be coming out so I can keep a watch out for it?

    Thanks, and Nice Car!

  • poqeteer September 6, 2013, 11:36 am

    I was looking at a Clubman long ago, but ultimately decided that the kids were still growing so it wouldn’t be comfortable for long and bought, of all things, a Civic (Hybrid). Now the kids want/need there own cars so maybe it’s time to look again?

  • RainyDayInterns September 6, 2013, 11:54 am

    Nice ride, but do you have a security system like this???
    http://www.rainydaymagazine.com/RDM2013/RainyDayGarage/CarAlarm.JPG

    Not your typical option, but highly effective against car theft by birds, squirrels, and small rodents.

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 12:02 pm

    @Chris it’s the iOmounts iOauto Pro. I really like it and yes, it is not permanent and can be easily removed. I should have a review really soon. Just waiting for them to make them available on their site and for me to write the words to go along with the pictures and demo video that I’ve already shot.

    @Rainy if I catch Max on top of my MINI, he’s going to be in bigggggg trouble ;)

  • Kevin September 6, 2013, 12:11 pm

    Julie – are you bothered by not having Bluetooth streaming? I’ve thought of getting a newer Cooper S (I have a 2008) but BT streaming is only available with the expensive Mini Connected system.

    I currently use an audio cable to connect my phone to the sound system but BT streaming is in so many cars now, I feel like it’s a feature I really would want to have on a car. How are you handling?

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 12:19 pm

    @Kevin I considered that when I decided not to get the connected system and just decided that I’d settle with having SiriusXM instead. If I want to listen to an occasional podcast, I’ll just route the sound through a cable. I’m going to figure out a good way to route a USB cable for charging anyway so I can add a 3.5mm audio cable with it.

  • Kevin September 6, 2013, 1:22 pm

    Got it. I listen to music from my iphone whenever I am in the car so BT is important to me. There are some bluetooth adapters out there (Belkin is supposed to be best) but I’d rather have it built in.

    Glad you’re enjoying your mini! Here’s my current list of options for my next car: http://i.imgur.com/PUEZZDq.png

  • Norm September 6, 2013, 1:23 pm

    I bought my Mini Clubman through Costco. Mini dealers do not discount but I got $500 through Costco and some more money, $200 if I remember correctly, for Mini accessories at the dealership. I was going to order the S model but found out how few miles you get with run flat tires and how much they cost. I’ve tried the sport button but did not notice that much of a difference, so now I never use it. Going around tight curves with my 6 speed manual transmission and no brakes makes driving fun again.

  • anson September 6, 2013, 1:25 pm

    Any unused cool gadgets you need/want to sell off to support your monthly payments?

    ;)

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 1:34 pm

    @Kevin I think you linked to the wrong image…

    @Norm We don’t have Costco here, but wow, I wish we did, that would have helped! As for run flats, I’ll be switching to something else as soon as they need to be replaced. I’ve read on the MINI forums that there are other tires that are a lot better and even make the ride smoother.

    @anson I’ve not sold any gadgets in ages. I used to have regular eBay garage sales, but for the past several years, I just wait till everything is piled up and I bring in sacks and sacks of stuff to work to give away. Much more fun for me and my co-workers :)

  • Norm September 6, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Can you send me the link to the tires? Do they keep the handling the same? Tires used by Mini are part of the reason the car handles curves well. BTW I ordered the ipod adapter when they built my car in 2009. It’s the only thing I’m not happy with, very hard to use but it does keep it charged. Also I ordered the drivers seats, they help a lot on the curves since you are sort of sitting on a cacoon.

  • Kevin September 6, 2013, 1:51 pm

    Julie – that’s the right image. It’s the list of the cars I am considering…!

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 1:56 pm

    @Norm I don’t have the exact name of the tires. But there’s lots of talk about non-runflats here: http://www.northamericanmotoring.com/

    @Kevin oh, sorry. I thought you were going to show me a list of MINI options ;)

  • Norm September 6, 2013, 2:01 pm

    Thanks

  • thsu September 6, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I bought a Kuda (kudausa.com) mount for my wife’s Mini, for her GPS. While it is a fixed mount, it looks stock, as in, straight from the factory, OEM stock. That’s how nice it looks.

  • walk September 6, 2013, 4:38 pm

    @Chris: ProClip also have some great mounts that work with the MINI dash. Mine has been in use for almost 5 years – I moved it over to my new MINI a couple of years ago.

    @Norm: Depends on where you live, how many dealerships nearby, etc. Living in Southern Ontario I have 7+ nearby and went directly to the Sales Manager at each shop. I did not pay MSRP on my JCW hatch.

    Also you can go with just about any tire you want that is the correct size. I ditched my crazy expensive performance runflats and went with Hankook Ventus V12 tires for now. Check out North American Motoring forum for lively discussions about tires..

  • walk September 6, 2013, 4:40 pm

    Also FYI everyone there will be a brand new MINI hatch available in a year or so. New body style, interior and engines. If you can wait, it might be worthwhile (to see if you like to new style or want to take advantage of last year sell-offs).

  • Julie Strietelmeier September 6, 2013, 7:46 pm

    @walk I’ve seen some images of the 2014 model and I’m glad I have the 2013 :)

  • Jake September 9, 2013, 1:47 pm

    Small cars FTW! easy to park, light on fuel and parts and not to mention a blast on the roads! Glad you got the upgraded audio but not Nav. That is the way my car was ordered and I am glad! My phone does nav better and can be updated! As you said. :)

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