BY HARRY KIRSBAUM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGIE BAAN
he Mini-Cooper is not a car — it's a
lifestyle change. Since I purchased one in
April, I "drive happy." I wave at other
Mini-Cooper drivers. I talk to the curious
folks I find peeking into my windows. I
used to buy cars simply for their function,
but after one five-minute test drive in a silver and black Mini-
Cooper, I jumped out of the car and said, "I'll take this one!"It
was of no use to ask for a deal. About 30 people were swarm-
ing around five cars. This wasn't a car dealership; this was
Costco during a sale.
At about 12 feet by 5.5 feet and 2,500 pounds (add
about 150 pounds more for the sportier Mini-Cooper
S), the Mini-Cooper is the lightest, smallest car on the
road, but it doesn't drive like one.
It runs quiet and smooth, handles like a dream
and takes corners like you wouldn't believe.
Side impact door beams and six air bags,
including two in the back seat, are some of the
safety features needed to sell a car of this size.
(In the SUV jungle, it's good to play it nimble
The Mini-Cooper has a 1.6-liter,116-horse-
power, 5-speed manual transmission and a base
price of $16,500.
The Mini-Cooper S boasts a peppier 1.6-
liter, 163-horsepower, 6-speed manual engine
with a top speed of 136 mph, and a base price
Both cars come with many added features,
including an automatic transmission, GPS loca-
tor and a dual-pane sunroof.
They both use premium gasoline, but at
about 30 miles a gallon, it doesn't hurt your pock-
etbook as much.
As great as the car looks from the outside, the
interior is even better, with the coolest looking
dashboard you'll ever see.
It's roomy enough to feel like you're driving a mid-
size, the instrumentation is easy to use, and the back
seat has enough room for a toy poodle and a Maltese.
(Actually, I had no problem in the backseat. I just wouldn't
want to spend a lot of time there.)
More Mini-Coopers are popping up everywhere, but they
still get noticed, so keep your fingers away from your face and
save the picking and plucking for when you're at home.
This is not a car for people with road rage issues, either. Minis
exude fun, they produce smiles and besides, you'd just look silly.
Cool Runnings by Harry Kirsbaum will be a monthly,
automotive feature in Platinum. Honk if you see him
cruising in his Mini-Cooper.
AUGUST 2004 •