One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It's this affinity that's left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen.
The standard Mini Countryman is a bit of an odd duck against the backdrop of 'normal' small crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and the Ford Escape, but I sort of get it. Apply the same winning Mini formula to a CUV, and you get a smaller-than-average entry in the segment, one that is far more entertaining to drive than the norm, more stylish inside and out and pretty expensive when cross-shopped. That list of qualities doesn't appeal to all crossover shoppers, sure, but it intrigues a big enough lis
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone from Mini refer to 'go-kart-like handling,' I'd be retired, living on a beautiful piece of coastline somewhere in the Caribbean. Perhaps even on the shores of Puerto Rico, where Mini chose to launch its latest Cooper and Cooper S hatchbacks. As with so many frequently used phrases, though, there is indeed some truth to the cliché – while the Mini Cooper has never actually handled quite like a go kart, it has always had a certain direc
In just over a decade, Mini has expanded its modern range from the singular Hardtop model (launched in 2002) to a full range of little runabouts. The latest of these is the Paceman, and while European Editor Matt Davis gave us the full scoop on this model late last year, we recently spent time with the all-wheel-drive model just outside of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
When you've been test-driving nearly every new vehicle on the market for as long as I have, you get to the point where you mostly know what to expect. Not that I or most other veteran car reviewers make up our minds about new products before we drive them, but certainly we formulate theories to go about testing once a new car lands in our driveway. More often than not, our experiments confirm our hypotheses. This can be a great triumph or a crushing let-down, but rarely does a vehicle manage to
Our long-term 2011 Mini Countryman is nearing the end of its year-long stay in the Autoblog Garage, the past six months of which have been spent bouncing back and forth between the various Detroit-based team members (and Cleveland – we mustn't forget about Herr Neff). And while we've all had plenty of time behind the wheel of the biggest Mini, this is one car that always seems to be in high demand, whether its for long road trips or just because we all really like driving the thing.
April was a busy month for the long-term 2011 Mini Countryman, with over 2,500 miles added to the odometer and a heaping helping of people and things passing through its doors. When I picked up the Countryman, I was impressed by the fact that all four of its winter tires were neatly stowed behind the front seats. However, the biggest of Mini models didn't fare so well when the rear seats were occupied.
When our friends at The Tire Rack told us they'd be sending over a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 tires mounted on 17-inch Sport Edition alloy wheels for our long-term Mini Countryman, our minds were immediately filled with images of the little blue hatchback bounding along snowy roads with razor-sharp precision and confidence. Instead, editors Neff, Paukert and myself can literally count on one hand the number of times we actually had to drive the Mini on snowy/slushy roads. So much for winte
I regret to inform you that despite what the image above indicates, Autoblog's long-term Mini Countryman will again be passing hands without having been thoroughly tested in the type of inclement weather for which it's been prepared. While we thought there was no way it would escape a February in Cleveland without slogging through weeks of snowfall, our Countryman's Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70 winter tires only met the cold stuff once, and then for only a day or two before everything melted. As I
Literally two days after my last update about our long-term Mini Countryman, I found myself trudging through a snowstorm at 30 miles per hour on Interstate 94 along Michigan's west coast. I guess Mother Nature had heard my cries about not being able to test our Mini in the snow, and decided to reward me with super slippery roads and poor visibility for two and a half hours straight. Lovely.