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.

drewandmimi

A different side of #mtts2014

drewandmimi

I am writing you today barely 24 hours after the end of #mtts2014. This isn’t my recap since I’ve barely been able to assimilate myself back into society. Best I’ve managed is to have clean underwear. This is about something else that I experienced during the event that struck me more than anything else.

I started working in the restaurant industry right after high school. Started as a prep cook, worked my way up to assistant kitchen manager and became a corporate trainer before getting into a management position. During this time I has the opportunity to work with people who literally shaped the way I do business today.

The company I worked invented kick ass customer service for the restaurant industry. The service standards we perfected were copied by every chain, large and small. It was, in short, that every employee, from the host and bus staff, all the way back to the kitchen, had the ability to guarantee, no matter what, the guest experience. No manager intervention necessary. It just happened, because that’s the way it should be. No matter what.

MINI Takes the States 2014 was a tremendous undertaking. 1,000’s of people, 400+ MINI Coopers (daily) plus anything and everything else you can think of. The numbers were huge. And, with those kinds of numbers, you would expect a few things to go wrong. And they did.

But here’s the thing. When they went wrong, they were fixed. If person A couldn’t handle it, person B took up the slack before handing it back to person A. There was follow-up. There were hands on repairs by regional managers. Stuff was getting done, done well and in short order to get folks back on the road.

No matter what.

I watched as some of my friends became part of the numbers. And every time it was corrected. Not because they were my friends, but because that was how things were being done. Even if MINIUSA couldn’t do anything to fix an issue, they still managed to find a way to try to lessen the blow. Flowers, a very nice massage at the next stop, personal attention, phone calls, follow-up.

Not many people said anything about their personal experiences on the internet, but I heard the stories and knew it happened, which is why I’m sharing it with you. MINIUSA is really knocking it out of the park and I wanted to make sure you guys knew about it.


We are still closing out #mtts2014. Besides the almost 400 photos we shared, coast-to-coast, we have posted 3 audio pieces and have more to come, including some great audio of an amazing exhaust system that should be coming by the end of the year. Trust me, you can’t wait to hear it!

The BMW 328i. Again

328i

Over the course of the last week or two I have had the chance to drive some very interesting cars. And, the BMW 328i. You’ll recall that I spent a few days in this particular model back in 2009 and I wasn’t a huge fan (the term “BWM for your Mom” comes to mind). And, I’m here to report that, not only is it still a total snooze fest, it has also become one of the most limp-wristed cars I have ever driven.

Besides the feeling of disconnectedness and an overly cushy ride, there are 3 new things that I have to question.

  1. This car makes a very pronounced ‘DING’ at speeds above 80mph and displays a warning until the speed is reduced to under 80MPH.
  2. The automatic transmission control is overly complicated. And a button has to be pushed.
  3. Auto stop/start is jerky and un gives an unsettling feeling when stopped

The speed warning is just ridiculous. Have we, as a society, become so stupid as to not realize how fast we are driving while we are driving? I mean, the BMW drives quiet and soft, but it’s no Cadillac Sevelle. You get the feeling of speed in this car. Or, are we overly distracted and no longer paying attention to what is happening around us as we drive around in a vehicle that weighs close to 2 tons? Continue reading →

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The MINI Paceman & JCW GP

MINI_Cooper_S_Paceman_10

I finally got the chance to check out the new MINI Paceman last weekend at my local dealer. It was Penny brown (as pictured above) surround by clever marketing collateral.

And I didn’t like it.

Sure, I sat in it. It was like the Countryman. I didn’t sit in the backseat because, well, I just couldn’t be bothered. It was nice enough on the inside I suppose.

My issue comes when looking at this MINI from the outside. To better illustrate when I’m about to be on about, let’s check out another photo.

MINI_Cooper_S_Paceman_02

I wish I would have snapped a pic of the car at the dealer because I now know why this car is always photographed at this angle with a busy background. There is something about this MINI that just looks weird.

Look at the bonnet and front bumper in the photo. Is it just me, or does it look really, really long? Longer than the Countryman to be sure. Out of place long. Awkwardly long. Maybe it’s the extreme slope of the rear roof line?

And that roof line. It’s a pretty extreme slope in person. So extreme I had people tell me they thought the rear of the car looked like a Pontiac Aztec. I don’t think it looks that bad, but it also looks weird.

To me, the overall proportions of this MINI aren’t pleasing to the eye. I’m sure that the front half of this MINI has the same overall exterior specifications as the Countryman. I just wish I could see it that way. I mean the front of this is like a ’79 Ford Grenada.

This is definitely a MINI that looks better in photos. At least it does to me.

I haven’t had a chance to drive this MINI yet and seriously doubt I ever will which is too bad since I’ve heard good things about the driving dynamic. I just don’t like the way it looks. Am I the only one that is seeing the bonnet this way? Let us know in the comments!

I also got the chance to finally see the new GP. Sat it in and everything. We’ll add this to the list of cars I will probably not get the chance to ever drive (I’ve never driven the previous gen GP either), but the interior is really nice. The seats are amazing and wish I could have them in my MINI now. The leather dash is also a nice touch, along with all of the other GP changes to the interior. The graphics are ridiculous and the roof numbers are just lame. I’m also not a big fan of the wheels, but I really like this MINI otherwise.

Comments are open. What say you?

Letters and Decals

Over at Google Plus, there is a discussion going on about the new raised lettering we are seeing on the Countryman and the Paceman. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen anywhere else (MF, NAM, MA, Facebook, etc.) and the comments are running more toward hate than like.

Before we go any further, please take a minute and refresh yourself with this post from late last year.

Now, to move forward, re: the raised lettering. Personally, I think it’s really cool and like it a lot. Can’t wait to see MINI introduce this ‘feature’ on other models across the range. I can understand that you don’t like them. That’s totally cool with me. But to threaten to not buy a MINI or to switch brands because of this? Or to decide to not buy a car because of a decal (that is there or not). Really?

I understand that you have a short fuse and the slightest thing sets you off and over the edge. That’s cool. But to base your decision on whether or not to purchase a vehicle that costs north of $27K on such an insignificant detail is truly absurd. I would bet that, with a short length of dental floss, those letters could be removed in less than 15 minutes before you even pull of the dealer’s lot.

It’s cool if you think the car is too expensive (I do). It’s cool if you don’t like the way it looks (I don’t care for the Paceman, but that’s for another post). It’s cool if you don’t like the interior, the lack of features or support for Android phones. All of that makes sense. Hell, you could even think the car is too small to be safe (yet another post). Those are valid reasons to not want a car.

But, plastic raised letters and decals? That’s just dumb.