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March 26th, 2002

Mini Madness

I must say that I’ve noticed people talking about the new Mini Cooper, which you can buy right this second. Or, well, within about 3,000 seconds.

It’s an interesting attempt, but I hold some of the same reservations against the Mini as I do against the PT Cruiser. For one Americans, on balance, want bigger cars. No matter how well-designed and packaged a small car is, the perception is, “Gee, that is small.” There is a continued illusion that bigger cars (SUVs) are safer and thus, if your car is bigger, you win. I won’t launch into the usual “small v. big car” debates this time out.

In addition, the idea of a premium small car is very new to America, and the Mini has that entire history against it. While economy cars nowadays have items such as power windows and other goodies standard, they’ve also gotten slightly more expensive as a result – but they’re not positioned as premium cars. The Mini is, and the price reflects that.

I checked out the Flash-happy site for the car, and they aren’t cheap: I loaded one up for $25,500. A base model will still run about $18,000. $18,000 is below the average price for a new car, but mind you that the Mini is… well, mini. It’s really small. Really, really small.

Will it sell? Sure. Will it be popular in a few years? That’s hard to tell. Will it usurp SUVs? I hold a little bit of hope. -pm

Posted in Cars

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday March 26, 2002 -- 12:17:01 am
Is it related to Winnie Cooper?

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday March 26, 2002 -- 8:41:46 am
Don't be silly, Ryan. There is no Winnie Cooper. The Mini Cooper is played by Danica McKellar.

FROM: Tina
DATE: Tuesday March 26, 2002 -- 12:42:41 pm
If you could fold this car up into a briefcase a la "The Jetsons" I would buy it immediately.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday March 26, 2002 -- 5:10:14 pm
I've looked for an opportunity to put this somewhere: The PT Cruiser is the Silver Diner of automobiles.


FROM: Monica
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 2:41:26 pm
my parents are getting one of these and they are SO excited. My mom used to have an Austin America (sp?) that she loved, so this reminds her of that. The style of th mini is really cool. And the fact that it's being touted as a "street legal go-kart" makes me drool. There's much zippy fun to be had with this car!! :-)
If I had the money, I'd get one. Maybe Honda will make a cheaper, similar car someday.
Like Paul, I'm holding out hope that SUVs are on the way out.

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 3:24:41 pm
If it becomes popular, Monica, the automakers will respond in kind. The PT Cruiser has ushered in the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix, for instance.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 4:53:29 pm
I'd love to see a return to small cars... I can honestly say that I don't ever see myself driving anything other than a compact or medium-sized sedan as my primary car. The only exception would be -- possibly -- a van if Huyen and I all of a sudden turn into rabbits and have six kids. And as a small car driver, I will be happy if there are less view-obstructing SUVs on the road in the future.

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 5:10:08 pm
If you turn into rabbits, that'll cause a whole mess of problems.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 5:10:19 pm
the Vibe--isn't that the one where in the commmercials people say it's "chromed out?" That's so cheesy! But it doesn't look too bad, if I'm remembering correctly.
Do you think higher gas prices might help the small car cause?

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday March 27, 2002 -- 11:39:57 pm
It might, Monica. I read an article today where an SUV owner said, "It costs $35-40 to fill up, but then I get good gas mileage," not realizing that getting a lot of miles does not necessarily equal getting good gas mileage.

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