No, really!

Filed under: @ 10:21 am


Okay, I’ll try to be done with that.

The Mini happened to be the first car I test-drove because the dealership was the furthest away. When you’re situated at the ass-end of Seattle the closest Mini dealerships are either in Fife or in Lake City. Choosing Fife as both having easier access for us and not requiring us to drive through Seattle (which can either be easy or not and there’s very little warning one way or the other) we headed for Fife yesterday morning.

*minor digression*
That having been said, what are the colossal odds that of all places in western Washington and of all people in western Washington, the Mini dealership in Fife just happened to be the place where Andrew and I encountered (I did _not_ go so far as to speak to her) a receptionist from my previous job that we used to call “Crazy Mary”? Over the years Andrew has gotten very good at picking up on my non-verbal, or extremely quiet, cues so when I saw her and he saw me, he leapt into the fray, stood in front of me, and was prepared to convince her to bugger off if she should come over to try and catch up. Why her? Why couldn’t fates have aligned to bring, say, Liam Neeson to the Mini dealership in Fife? Ma Fate is a weird old bitch!
Anyway, I digress.

The 2013 Paceman is a nice, zippy little car with pretty decent handling. There are a lot of bells and whistles, especially as compared to my current car which has a LOT of bells and whistles as compared to her predecessor, my ’77 Corolla. When I end up purchasing a new vehicle it’s going to take me several weeks of poking and prodding to figure out which button does what and why one shouldn’t pull that lever while in motion. Notable on the Paceman was a little toggle switch on the center console that switched the transmission into “Sport” mode. “Sport” mode, as I understand it, moves the transmission into a lower (?) gearing ratio which increases the acceleration and changes the handling a wee bit. Good GOD that thing is fun to drive in “Sport” mode….. Although it probably does hideous things to the gas mileage.
The other thing that impressed me about the Mini was that there’s no spare tire. As in, not even one of those rotten little donut things. Minis are sold with run flat tires which either gives one 80 miles of running at 50 mph on zero air pressure or 50 miles of running at 80 mph on zero air pressure I’m not entirely certain which. My brain was in serious SQUEE mode for much of the time we were there yesterday. Regardless, seeing as my first brush with mechanical insanity on my current car was an incident 3 months after I purchased the beast when I ran over a roofing screw on I5 while on my way to a wedding with the back hatch full of tomato plants, the run flats have a good deal of appeal.

The major down side to the Paceman is the rear visibility which isn’t quite wretched, but is not good. I drove the 2 door version and while doubtless I’d figure out the best ratio of mirrors to seat height and position if I purchase one, I was more than a little concerned. The 4 door version seems to have better rear visibility, but it’s still not great. The teeny little window on the back hatch and the (relatively) large door posts are not a good combination.

We were meaning to look at and test drive a couple more cars yesterday. We actually went to the Subaru dealership in Renton since I wanted to drive the 2013 Crosstrek (on which their hybrid electric is going to be based next year) and since I’m also moderately interested in a Legacy or Outback sedan. We got to look, but couldn’t touch or drive because they were inundated with customers and didn’t have enough salespeople to help us. Subaru will have to be a future trip.

We had also meant to go to Toyota to look at the Rav 4 and a couple of other offerings, but since we went to Ezell’s for lunch we were both too overwhelmed by fried chicken stupor to continue. Again, a future trip.

But could I just say (tiny little whisper) *squee!*

First Impressions….

Filed under: @ 9:09 am

My impressions after having driven a 2013 Cooper Mini Paceman AWD:


Thank you.


Wait….what was I saying?

Filed under: @ 7:40 am

Right. Further random observations of the month.

I’m beginning to think about getting a new car. While there isn’t anything basically wrong with my Subaru, she’s 17 years old with 150K miles. And while there are no overt signs yet, I think the clutch is almost ready to be replaced. And there’s a hot, oily smell when the engine is warm that both Wayne’s around the corner and the Subaru dealership have told me will take Big Bucks to repair when it finally gets bad enough to need it.

I am conflicted about moving from a manual to an automatic transmission. I’ve always considered preferring to drive a manual to be one of my peculiarities like knowing how to bake bread, never having eaten a Twinkie, and never having seen E.T.
But God’s honest truth is that my knees are aging faster than the rest of me and since it’s cheaper to purchase a car with an automatic transmission than it is to get my knees replaced, an automatic transmission it is.

And yes, at 45 years of age, I have to be honest and admit that a new car would be a midlife crisis car. I’m not looking to purchase another station wagon, I’m looking for…. Well I want cute and fun. The station wagon was a good idea at the time in that I thought that, with a wagon, I’d be better able to haul garden supplies and friends and so forth. But the truth is that while my wagon is big enough to haul tools and plants, when I need things like bales of straw and loads of dirt I have to go rent a pickup from U-Haul, and the last time my car had any more than one person in it was, I think, January. There is absolutely no point in purchasing a larger vehicle, to say nothing of paying for the gas for a larger vehicle, when I only need a larger vehicle a couple of times a year.
Unless, that is, there are cute little red pickup trucks out there with all wheel drive in which case I might just consider it! 😀 I loved driving Andrew’s Mazda, but I’m not willing to give up AWD or gas mileage that’s better than 25MPG so a truck is very likely a non-starter.

Andrew has been feeding my frenzy by searching out AWD cars and e-mailing me specs and photos. I am absolutely enchanted with the AWD Mini that is Andrew’s most recent contribution to my craze, but I’m skeptical about the repair records on the Minis. I get all squee at the idea of driving a Mini, but since very little infuriates me more than having my car crap out on me I’ve got to be convinced that the Mini has improved its product before I’ll decide on one.

Obviously it’s going to take a good deal of thought and research, but opinions and suggestions are always welcome!
To sum it all up:
1. Small(ish)
2. AWD
3. 25MPG or better
And as a particular request from my left knee (SIGH), automatic transmission.

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