The MINI Paceman & JCW GP
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.
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.
I drove this
On the odd occassion, I do get access to cars you wouldn’t expect me to be able to drive. Case in point is the car you see above, the Lexus GS450h. It wasn’t much more than a test drive, but I did drive it. Car and Driver had a chance at it too, and my thoughts echo theirs.
Well, in this case, the GS450h may be the most powerful member of the GS lineup, but it is also the least sporty of the bunch. The GS450h wafts itself over the road with the same sort of tranquillity as its big brother, the LS460. There’s a complete absence of road or engine noise, the ride is plush, and the seats are as soft as buttery mashed potatoes. This sort of luxury is Lexus’s trademark, and it’s a delight, provided you aren’t expecting a sports sedan. We didn’t love the mouselike control for the Lexus infotainment system, but the rest of the interior is a soothing cocoon.
The Arizona “Inspection”
2 years ago in October I moved to Arizona. Mostly broke, I waited as long as possible to register my MINI in the state that I now call home. As long as possible ended the day after I received a fix it ticket for expired tags. Let it go, it was a bad time.
All of the registration stuff was painless and took less than 3 hours to complete the first time around. I went to the DMV to get things started and get in line. Part of that wait to wait even more to get my MINI inspected at the station next door to my DMV.
Born and raised in California, we invented emissions controls. California is the reason why we don’t have a MINI D in the states. California is copied by about a dozen states, and has vehicle emissions requirements that are more stringent then the Federal government. You can thank me later. Anyway, getting a vehicle inspected in California was always a nail biting chore. Between the visual inspection, the tail pipe sniffer and other tests, you were lucky if you passed on the first time.
Sometimes it was something as simple as an oil change to clean things up. Or the dreaded O2 sensor. Or a leaky gas cap. It seemed to me that it was always something when it was my turn to get a smog check.
Not so in Arizona. In fact, I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it an inspection. More like a tax with the added inconvenience of spending an hour in line to pay the tax. Sure, they jack into the OBD port to check for fault codes. They also make sure that there is a gas cap installed and are probably supposed to test it. But they don’t look under the hood and they don’t sniff the tail pipe (on pre-1999 cars).
Of course I passed. I bet a 2000 Honda with an almost blown headgasket, complete with the spewing of oil soaked smoke, could pass. It’s not an inspection.
It would be better if ADOT added an “administrative fee” to my registration. If it makes them feel better, I can even pay that at a drive-up window, burger joint style. But to make me wait so that a “technician” can see if the check engine light is on is a little much. Especially when they charge me $28 for the test.
I really have no room to complain. My yearly registration is only $53 on Roxy (because of her miles and age). And it’s not like I can’t afford the $28. It’s insulting to get a test that’s not a test at all.
Us vs. Them
Over the years I have had many opportunities to speak directly with those in charge at MINI and MINIUSA. Managers, engineers, marketing folks. All of them are really swell people. All of them also have a shared goal in customer satisfaction. Customer here being the actually purchasers of the MINIs (like you and me). It’s what they talk about, what they obsess about. It’s who they are.
This week I had the chance to hang out with some guys that work at the dealer level. It was a completely different experience and I was more than a little shocked. Most of them were all about the money. During the entire conversation, not once did I hear any of them mention customer service or think that a certain thing would be better for the customer. Their only concern was the money and how they were going to sell cars.
When I tried to point out that something they were concerned about will actually benefit the customer, they looked at me like I was speaking Martian. They didn’t even come close to getting it. This happened twice. Not a clue.
It’s really no wonder why IQS scores can be so low at some dealers. At some, they don’t seem to care. I know there has been training, and that many of the dealers are taking the training to heart and are finally getting it. But I’m not sure if it’s too little, too late. This is something that will never improve until the mentality at the dealer level changes. Many of them are all about ‘pushing metal’. Talk about doing it wrong.
Another interesting bit that I found out last night. One of the largest MINI dealers in Southern California only gets about 20% of their sales from folks that are ordering their MINIs. I don’t have solid, nationwide, stats, but this is shocking to me also. I had a feeling that number was low, but not that low. Why wouldn’t you order exactly the car that you want if you have the chance?