Mini South Africa loaned me a Mini Roadster over the weekend. I was initially invited to the #MINIyournight launch last month and couldn’t make it, so they agreed to let me experience what I will call #MINIyourweekend.
I have to admit, as a Fiat 500 driver, I wasn’t too fond of the Mini. That changed when I got into the car; the leather seats were comfortable and luxurious and very low; it felt like you were sitting on a lounger and driving. And to top it off, the seats are heated! Just imagine, if you have a back ache, all you have to do is hop into your car for a drive. On Saturday evening as I drove back with Aasia from dinner, we turned them on and it was heavenly.
One thing is certain, the car is a head turner! It was the first time I drove a car and noticed people stop and stare. It was an unusual feeling; didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Saved by my sunglasses 8) It’s a fun car to drive and driving along the highway/flat roads with the roof down was the best part. What I didn’t like was that you could feel every single bump. Bringing the roof down is done manually and if you’re alone, you can do it yourself with no help. Well, that depends on your size, too.
The model I was loaned was an automatic (steptronic) Mini Cooper Roadster (wouldn’t have minded the Cooper S either) 😉 It came with loads of extras like 17″ alloy wheels, shift paddles on the steering wheel (I like), visibility package, armrest, seat heating, extra storage compartments, leather seats, sport button, automatic headlight control, Hi-Fi loudspeaker system (which received Aasia’s stamp of approval), Bluetooth, USB audio interface and music interface for smartphones. The base model costs R295,000 and with all the extras, R368,550 – yikes!
There is one feature about my Fiat 500 that I’m least happy with: the size of the cup holders (they are on the scale of “why bother”). This matters to me because I sometimes buy hot drinks from a drive through, and in the past I ended up with hot chocolate on my passenger seat. Comparatively, the Mini has cup holders I approve of – they are deep and have proper grips around it; so there’s no chance of spilling your drink (unless you are prone to spilling your drink).
I tried connecting my phone to the car via Bluetooth several times but it just didn’t work. I couldn’t seem to pick up the Mini, even though it was ready to pair from the dashboard. I was keen to test this out as I didn’t have any hassles pairing my phone to my own car.
Now that I’ve driven a Mini, my perception has definitely changed. It really is a fun car to drive. I think if you’re buying any car, you should at least enjoy driving it. And yes, for a working class citizen like myself, it is difficult to justify the price tag of R368,550.
EDIT: The Fiat 500 also comes in a convertible option, the 500C, which is priced at just R212,671. Is the luxury of having a bigger cup holder, heated seats + extras worth the R150,000+ price difference?
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ email@example.com