Night Life: I Hate The Mini Cooper - Night Life

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I Hate The Mini Cooper Thursday, August 7, 2008

#1 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 08:13 AM

I Hate The Mini Cooper
With apologies to my buddy Steve.

I had to rent a car for the day yesterday for work. I have a membership to Zipcar and the good thing about getting a car on a weekday is: 1) All the cars are drastically reduced in price, and 2) all the cars are the same price, regardless of their make or model. Knowing this I perused the available cars and decided to go with a Mini Cooper because it looks cool and I know my friend Steve loves his.

After arriving at the garage, a gentleman pulled the car around for me. When I got in it seemed fine. I drove it off and after a few minutes wanted to roll up the window. A simple task, you say? Maybe you're thinking of every other car ever invented. In the Mini Cooper it was a five minute ordeal of looking around and flipping every switch imaginable. The standard on-door control for the windows did not exist.

I get Zipcars or rent cars quite frequently and I'm used to fumbling around to find a few controls but generally the unwritten code of automobile layout is followed and it doesn't take more than a few seconds. Generally it doesn't require me to spend multiple minutes and actually cause me to unleash a primal scream of rage before I locate it. If you were near me on the George Washington Bridge yesterday you will know that I am not exaggerating, especially since my windows were rolled down.

C'mon, is there any need for a speedometer the size of a dinner plate?

The car defies every ingrained bit of knowledge you have about how a car is layed out. It puts everything in a different place. After a while it becomes apparent that most of the changes were done just to be different. The Mini Cooper taunts you, seeming to say, "Oh, well in a car you may look there for the volume knob on the stereo, but you aren't driving a car, this is a Mini Cooper." Actually, I'm surprised they didn't use that snobby, self righteous tone in their advertising campaigns, because it seems obvious that that's what they're going for in their design.

After finally rolling up my window I had to try to figure out hot to turn up the volume on the radio. Again, not where you would think. It wasn't on the actual radio itself, over the left, like on every other radio you've ever seen in your life. Instead it was dead center, way underneath the radio.

Sure, I bet after you drive this car for a day or two this all comes rather naturally. However, having this as a rental car should be illegal. It's exceedingly dangerous to have to fumble around, in traffic, for common controls all the while trying to drive somewhere you've never been before (which should probably be illegal too).

After my day at work I had to do something which, on the surface, seemed like it was going to be easy. I had to start the car up and drive home.

There is no reason to have a key look like this.

However, the "key" for the Mini Cooper is a goofy looking saucer that you have to insert into a slot beside the radio. Next to the slot is a Start/Stop button for the engine. I inserted the key and pressed the start button. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. I tried holding the button down. Nothing. I tried this about ten or twelve more times in every way I could think of. Nothing. After a few minutes I opened the glove compartment and started reading the owner's manual. That's right, I had to read the car's manual to figure out how to turn it on. After leafing through the car's manual (something I've never had to do in my life) I realized that apparently the car will not start if you don't have the brake depressed. I then realized that I normally have the brake depressed in a car when I'm turning the key, but the strange experience with this car threw me out of my element so much that I was fixated on this new system and not doing what normally comes instinctively in any other car I've ever driven.

On my drive home, as I fumed, I realized what was so awful about this experience: this must be what it feels like to be eighty years old. This must be what it feels like to be completely surrounded by technology you don't understand or know how to use. It's frustrating, frightening and extremely depressing. I wondered if I was the character in some sort of story that exposes me to my own prejudices against the elderly and their lack of technological know-how. And now I must vow to never be frustrated with anyone who is struggling to understand technology. I have walked a mile in their shoes and I know how it feels. I will be sure to always treat them with honor, respect and understanding from this day on!

Thanks, Mini Cooper. I guess.
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Posted 07 August 2008 - 09:38 AM

Good thing you didn't want to turn the light off! That's something that simply cannot be done without the manual. And, believe it or not, it's not a button that the manual tells you to press; it's a menu you flip though before selecting the "off" mode, like you would when, say, turning off your cell phone at a movie theatre.

It's a decent little car, sure, but it's nuts.
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Posted 07 August 2008 - 04:09 PM

Sometimes I am glad that I have adamantly refused to get a car, or even a full license.

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 05:27 AM

Well there's one more thing I'll avoid driving...

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Stealth-- Ninja skills that actually graduated high school

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 10:30 PM

Oh, there's a long list of why to be less than thrilled with the models, 2007-on. Glad I got in with an '06 while it was still fun (and they'd just perfected it), and yes, inspired. If you can request one of those (or a cabrio- built before the last month or so), I really believe you'll have a lot more fun.

Incidentally, I have a special chip which (double click up) toggles the windows auto-up. Love it. Sprung for the version with the 1/2 second "up" on the door lock/unlock toggle, for Garage door access. cool.gif It just gets better and better.

Agreed, the advertising is too smug. We already don't need anymore on the road, thanks. And no, I wouldn't trade my gen-1 for the new clubbie; even if I will be needing a baby seat.

Hope you can drive the pre R56, Nate.

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