[internetworkers] More car shopping
rthigpen at nc.rr.com
Tue Dec 17 11:57:03 EST 2002
Kristen James Eberlein wrote:
> Has anyone actually driven a MiniCooper-S?
Yes! There's a 2003 Cooper-S parked in my driveway. It's my wife's
car, but I use it quite a lot. It's insanely fun to drive.
Most notable is the incredibly responsive handling. There is /no/ slop
in the steering whatsoever, and a couple of degrees rotation of the
steering wheel results in an immmediate change in direction. Short
wheelbase and turning circle. Parking lot manuvers feel as if the car
is rotating around its vertical center axis. Think GoKart. The
excellent power|weight ratio gives it lots of scoot. Six-speed manual
adds to the fun, as does the Vaderesque supercharger breathing. I
suspect a lot of buyers are drawn by the styling, but this is also very
much a driver's car.
The car is small, but feels quite solid. We've had a couple of issues,
but I write these off as growing pains, rather than poor quality. To be
expected if you buy into the first run of a new design. Taking the car
to Winston for warranty service is kind of a drag, but not terribly so.
We're hoping Raleigh scores a dealership in the second round.
Cargo room is pretty limited with the back seats up, but quite good with
them down. Back seat space isn't either great or awful. Not really
meant for long trips accompanied by the big and tall. Front seats are
very comfortble, esp. when no one is in the rear. It's a good highway
tripper for two. Headroom is generous, and width is similar to other
small cars such as Civic or Jetta.
Safety testing rates the car highly, for it's size. Just don't get in
the way of a Ford Juggernaut. But's that's good advice anyway. Best to
adopt the motorcyclists approach: assume you're invisible, always have
an escape route, and be somewhere else when masses collide. So far, so
MPG is largely up to the driver. Short shift and stay off the boost,
and you're effectively driving a lightweight 1.6l auto. Downshift and
spin up the blower..., well, let's just have some gas with that air.
We've been getting about 25 city/30 highway.
It does attract a lot of attention. It's pretty much the automotive
equivalent of taking a beagle puppy out for a walk in the park. Get
ready for lots of silly, smiley people full of questions. This is
mostly good and I suspect the novelty will subside over time.
Overall, I'd highly recommend the car to anyone who loves to Drive and
was OK living with a smaller car.
I've driven a friend's RSX-S and found it quite nice. Very good
handling. Engine needed revs to scoot, but revved quite freely and made
plenty of power. Sporty and fun. Reputation for quality and long life,
but also has the highest piston velocities of any production car, ever.
It will be interesting to see how these engines wear. (I'd use
synthetic oil) I'm not crazy about the humpback styling. The interior
is of good quality, but the aesthetic is typically Japanese which is to
say a little heavy on the plastic vibe. Rear seat headroom and legroom
is pretty bad. The Mini probably has a more comfortable rear seat,
mainly due to the headroom provided by the flat roof. I'd say these
cars are actually pretty similar in utility and mission, and mostly
different in aesthetics and image.
I drive a 2000 VW GTI and enjoy most of the sporting nature of these
other cars (after some suspension upgrades), a classically German
interior, a marvelous motor, and huge cargo room. And it's Red.
Whatever you get is likely to be huge upgrade from that Probe.
Have fun shopping (and driving),
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