grandtour

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour premiered last week on Amazon Prime. Of course I watched it. And yes, overall I thought it was very good.

Poo Came Out

If you have ever seen an episode of Top Gear, most of what this show is about if very similar to what we saw during the final 2 series with Jeremy, Richard and James. The cinematography is brilliant, the overall production values are brilliant and it's scripted just enough to be entertaining and funny.

I wouldn't say it was perfect. While the filmed pieces were on point, the new studio/tent parts felt very awkward. Almost like they were trying too hard. I'm chalking that up to first episode jitters while they try to discover what this new show really is while staying on their tiptoes to avoid getting sued by the beeb. That said, the intro was amazing! Rumor is that it cost $3 million to record that bit, and you can tell. It was exactly what you would hope to see with the boys coming back to television.

It would seem that you quite enjoyed it as well. According to Amazon, it is the most popular show they have ever released. It has also resulted in the highest number of prime sign-ups, second only to Prime Day.

I would highly recommend checking it out.


It's time that Bruce got a little bit of love. I'll be doing 4 wheel brake job later this month or early next. As per my usual, I'm upgrading pads at the same time to, also per my usual, EBC Green Stuff pads. Going with a more basic rotor this time by Bosch and I'll be sure to report back.

This will also be my first brake job on an R56. I'll be doing the fronts more that likely myself, but leaving the rears (and a full system flush) to the professionals.

Here’s The Problem

A few things. While I have been a fairly bad MINI enthusiast of late, I do still have one and he is finally going to be getting some love in the very near future. Don’t worry, you will hear all about it here as it happens.

Next, watch the video linked above.

For 10 days, I spent some quality time behind the wheel of a 2016 Chevy Malibu. It is not the first time I have had this as a rental, and I hope it’s not the last. As a car, it’s better than adequate I’d say. Comfortable, well equipped, decent mileage and it has enough power to get out of it’s own way. For a car, it actually handles pretty well too. Plus it has Car Play / Android Auto and the Chevy info-tainment system, overall, is really nice. But that is for another post. Honestly, if this car had better tires and slightly better transmission, I’d consider having one for daily driving duties.

But, more to my point. This car costs almost the same as a new MINI the way it is equipped. Apple Play / Android auto comes by default. A nice-ish screen that can be viewed wearing sunglasses. An interior that makes sense. To the non-enthusiast buyer, this would be a very nice car.

I still think the MINI is nicer. And more fun to drive. Plus the community, MINI Takes the States, AMVIV / Southwest MINI Fest (insert your favorite event here). Plus all of you guys. Plus the show. Is there a Malibu podcast? Clubs? Tuners? I don’t think so, at least not at our level. Is there a Detroit Tuned or OutMotoring.com or CravenSpeed? Nope? No Chad, no Way, no Jerry, no Marzo. None of that.

Do you get a sense for any of that with the commercial above? I know I don’t. I get the sense that MINI is trying to be like their older brother BMW. At this moment in my life, I don’t really want a BMW. I want a MINI. This ad doesn’t speak to me. Apparently, it doesn’t speak to you either based on sales of MINIs in the United States.

As we have talked about on the show numerous times, this marketing direction MINI has taken in the US just isn’t working. They are targeting people that don’t watch TV by running ads on cable networks. Did anyone notice that they didn’t run a Motortober event this year? Did your local dealer do anything cool for MotorTober? No? That’s ok, mine didn’t either.

In my very humble opinion, this is where MINI is getting it wrong. They are trying too hard to tell everyone that it’s a premium car. They are trying too hard to appeal to people that like craft beer and brick walls. They are trying too hard to sell to people that don’t care that much about cars.

They need to find a way to get people back into the dealers to look at the cars. Ads like the one above aren’t it. They need to find a way to say it’s a premium product without shoving it down our throats. The old, fun, ads, aren’t the ticket either. That MINI has long gone, and we all know that. It’s time for something new.

And they better offer Car Play / Android auto stat! Again, for another post, but this Chevy system with Car Play blows the doors off of anything found in any MINI or BMW. No fooling.


Speaking of the show, with Todd in Vegas for SEMA this past week and me traveling for work for the rest of this week and most of next, we are on a bit of a break. We will be back very soon! And you know this is definitely something that we are going to talk about.

bruceQT

Big MPG Test

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

Or something like that. More like I have a fresh set of tires, a new set of plugs and fresh oil in the crankcase. You get the idea.

Since the weather has been cooler and I haven’t need to use my A/C, Bruce’s MPG numbers have shown marked improvement, actually breaking into the 30’s (MPG) lately. Considering my daily drive is 23 miles each way and it usually takes me about 2 hours to round-trip, I’m ok with that.

The big test is this week. I’m heading out to spend the holiday with family, so I will be driving about 500 miles round trip. My thinking is that, with the fresh tune-up, oil and tires, I should be able to finally break into the high 30’s for MPG. I’ll be doing mostly highway driving with a little desert back roads thrown in for good measure.

Because I know you will ask, went back to the old standby of Kumho ASX. The boys gave me a bunch of great suggestions, but they were all out of my budget. For my needs, this is a great that has never steered (!) me wrong.

Next up, brakes! Pretty exciting to think about doing my first R56 brake job. I’m thinking sometime in December. Stay tuned!

IMG_0018

What a Difference Air Makes

You might remember me complaining about poor MPG and performance on the drive to AMVIV earlier this year. Then, you might remember that I upgraded my air filter from factory to K&N (because K&N). I’ve been monitoring my MPG since and that small changes has been giving me about 2 mpg per tank during Phoenix heat and average speeds of less than 35MPH. 28 – 29 in those conditions isn’t too shabby.

This weekend I had the chance to drive to San Diego. The drive is mostly flat desert, with the cruise control set to 80MPH. There are 2 sets of mountains that need to be traveresed and I’m happy to report that Bruce was able to tackle them both without any issue. Sure, there were a couple of grades where I had to drop into 4th, but I was able to accelerate in 4th gear and maintain 75 – 80MPH over those hills.

Even pulled a respectable almost 36 MPH on the trip out. I doubt my return trip MPG will be as good since it is way more up hill going to Phoenix from the ocean, but I’m confident that number will be greater than 32.

The only down side to the trip was losing the front air diverter from the JCW body kit. I don’t think I hit anything, but passenger side came off on I-8. I stopped shortly after to check on it and sure enough it was gone and the driver’s side was about to fall off. I went ahead and removed it and will start looking for replacements. More on that later.

Every Little Bit

Last tank was +2 MPG after installing the K&N filter. Considering the average temps (105+), this is huge. Went from 27 MPG to 29. At this rate, the air filter will pay for itself before the end of the year.

It is the little things. Besides improved MPG, there is now a little bit of noise coming from under the hood and the engine has a little bit more to give. /me thinks it might be time for some mountain testing.