Monday, February 28, 2011

You Want. iWant

On test… MINI Countryman

There’s no reason to buy this car. Seriously. Just like there’s no reason to buy an iPad

Take, however, the iPhone – now there’s something you really should have. It’s a small, sleek object of beauty that connects you to the world, takes photies, plays music, games and, thanks to all those downloadable apps, also does a whole bunch of other funky stuff. It’s an iconic piece of design against which all else is measured. Then there’s the iPad. It’s like an iPhone. But bigger. Ja, it does do some other extra stuff, but sheez, it’s quite a bit more expensive. And actually it doesn’t look as nice as the iPhone

Take too the standard MINI. Also small and nippy as all hell, it connects you to the road surface like few other cars. And in the bang-for-your-buck sports car stakes, the Cooper S is about as much fun as you can have in a car without switching on the demister. The Countryman, on the other hand is a little bigger, does a few extra things and is similarly quite a bit more expensive. It’s also sort of weird looking, isn’t it? Sort of strangely bulgy… like it’s got muscles where a MINI shouldn’t have muscles.

Right, so you really shouldn’t get one… but….

You want one don’t you. And you want an iPad too. Ja, I know, so do I. It’s just so flippin’ cool. Both the Countryman and the iPad have coolness by the iLoad.

I could tell you that the Countryman lacks power, but it won’t make a difference. I could, for example, explain that because they share the same engines as their smaller siblings, but carry more heft, the performance is nowhere near as sparkling regular MINIs – especially up on the Reef where the 1.6-litre Cooper Countryman is particularly sluggish.

I could also mention that at R415k, the base price Countryman 4x4 is in BMW X1 2.0d territory, and that Beemer is one very impressive car, crucially offering more useable power – 350Nm of versus the Countryman’s 260Nm.

But the truth is, saying all that would be as effective as trying to plug WikiLeaks.

Like Apple, the MINI brand has a certain cache that resonates with homo urbanus. When you see someone driving past you in their MINI Countryman, a well of envy involuntarily springs forth from your person. You will just know that the driver in that car is wearing jeans just the right kind of skinny, and that those sunglasses shielding their smiling eyes are what everyone else will be wearing next summer. You want to be that person, you want their life, their Countryman… and their iPad. Me too.

Prices range from R290 236 for the front wheel-drive Cooper, to R415 000 for the ALL4 Cooper S

(as appeared in the Kulula in-flight magazine)