It’s been more than fifteen years since I purchased my first (BMW designed) MINI; my original reasons were because of the beautiful design of the R50 with it’s many nods to the class Mini (which I’d owned for a while in the 1980s), along with handling and steering response providing for an incredible fun driving experience!
Over the years I’ve owned 8 different MINIs – I’ve upgraded to gain better performance, better interior technology, or better comfort …
What’s clear though is that those last two cars are not really from the same family as the earlier ones! For sure GPMINI was the most amazing fun of all those cars; it’s handling and performance beat all other MINIs, the Thunder Blue looks incredible, but it was noisy and a harsh ride for sure! Since then, MINI has tried to appeal to more people; my Clubman is by far the most comfortable of all – but it’s also $40,000 compared with the about $25,000 of my early MINIs (even GPMINI was only about $31,000).
In the past too, MINIs kept their value well; I think I’d lose about a third of their value after a few years ownership, meaning that driving a MINI cost me perhaps $3,000-$5,000 per year. But I’ve found recently that my two year old under 10K miles Clubman has lost more than half it’s value, meaning it’s cost me more than $10,000 per year! OK, I chose a very well equipped vehicle so the price started high, but to crash so far / so fast is just horrible!
So for that reason, my Clubman is my last MINI. At the price of a well equipped MINI, there’s many other choices – and when I factor the poor resale value of these cars, it makes choosing something else even more sensible.
The other thing that makes owning a MINI a fun experience is the community; here too that experience has reduced over the years – in central Florida there’s very few events other than the annual Mickey & MINI but my MINI owning friends are still friends even if I don’t own a MINI. I don’t think they’ll mind too much about my next choice (well, one of them might but that’s ok) …
I’ve never really had significant issues with MINIs I’ve owned, at least not since the early days of SES lights and “bad gas” behavior … but my 2016 Clubman seems determined to be annoying with it’s repeated electric parking brake failure (here, here) and it’s back again today! The behavior is to report failure of the parking brake – even though the brake is actually applied and the car can’t move.
Since the car believes there’s a problem, it now won’t release the brake so no more driving. Luckily, a tedious sequence of turning off and on, applying / releasing / re-applying / re-releasing the parking brake, gets it sorted … for a while at least.
So back to Orlando MINI again this afternoon; they’re only half an hour away, friendly, and ready with a loaner vehicle each time – but it’s honestly getting rather “not fun” to keep doing this. I’m starting to get an understanding of those MINI owners that are so infuriated with repeated failures (and many of those no doubt are much more frustrating than my car).
One bright spot this afternoon though, is that the latest loaner is electric blue, reminiscent of Ed / Maxamini and a time to re-introduce my duck to the new car (although I have to admit, this new electric blue is quite a long way from the original color!):
Hopefully, this latest repair attempt will be successful!
My Clubman is back at Orlando MINI tonight due to two more repeats of the failing / jamming ebrake, and so I’ve got a four door hardtop automatic to drive. Noticeably smaller inside, with almost no legroom behind the driver seat positioned for me (doesn’t matter there’s a rear door if there’s nowhere to get in to!), but admittedly fine to drive – feels quicker than mine but perhaps just because the automatic makes me less aware of changing speed. The basic center console is a disappointment too.
There was a recall last year on my Clubman, that didn’t sound particularly serious, but was resolved during my service visit a few months ago. Today, I received notification of another recall – and this one seems a bit more serious and also very surprising that it’s taken such a long time for a software light control issue to be noticed!
When we drove to Publix this afternoon there was a MINI that I of course had to park next to; we chatted to the owner for a short time and complimented each other’s car choices. After shopping, the MINI had gone and a much bigger vehicle had taken it’s place!
It’s been more than a year now since I bought my Clubman, and it’s been wanting an oil change for a while – much less than 5,000 miles, but due to time:
Clubman wants oil change
There’s also a not very urgent recall; so this afternoon I took it to Orlando MINI; Anthony had arranged a loaner for me – another Clubman, though rather different colors (and an automatic transmission):
Loaner Clubman, creamy white
Loaner Clubman, purple interior!
Loaner Clubman, automatic transmission
It’s a creamy white color, which is ok – but it appears to have purple leather seats! Surely a mistaken order (no idea what the color is officially called, don’t really care because I’d never order it).
The center display is smaller than I’m used to, without navigation, and the head up display is missing, but with an iPhone cable I had no problem playing my music on the way home …
Loaner Clubman, smaller center display
I was convinced, driving home, that it must be a Cooper because it seemed to be way down on performance compared to my car – but it is an S, so maybe the automatic transmission has a big effect (perhaps it would be better in sport mode, which I didn’t use).
I took pictures of a few showroom MINIs while I was at the dealership, including this strangely wrapped-with-matte (old model) Countryman, and a nice looking (new model) Convertible:
It’s nice to have a loaner available, not something I ever had at MINI Peabody!