Sunday, November 18, 2012

If you can't be with the one you love...

Concentration slips away, cause your baby is so far away...

'So far away' is 54.7 miles to be exact.  I dropped the ActiveE off at New Country BMW yesterday for a regularly scheduled service.  You might recall the last time it was in for scheduled service that my expectations received a dash of 'reality' also known as a 3 series loaner. And when I was towed in for an unexpected issue, I didn't bother to go get a loaner due to the distance to the dealer.

Fast-forward to scheduled service number two.  I dropped off the car at the dealer after flying back from an expected ass-whuppin' on the football field (oohh, how the mighty have fallen).  After dropping the car off with the service department I headed off to the transportation desk.  Upon arriving I learned that they somehow hadn't reserved a courtesy loaner for me.  As they began entering my info into the system, I asked 'any chance you have a Mini Cooper available'?  With the receipt of a quick affirmative, I moved on to the more important question.  "Do any of them have a manual transmission?"  As my heart raced, I got the answer I desired.  Yes, we have two of them - a Hardtop and a Clubman.  'Hardtop' came out of my mouth before he had the chance to ask which one I wanted.  And there it was, no dash of reality ruining my expectations this time.

Driving the Mini is a blast.  It reminds me an awful lot of the VW Corrado I had back in the 90's.  I was actually a little depressed that I was only going to have the Mini for the two days necessary for the regularly scheduled service.  Then I got a call from my BMW service advisor.  They had just received their shipment of 'fix' kits for the drive gear wear issue, and would have to keep the ActiveE a few extra days.  As much as I miss the ActiveE, a few more days in a car that feels like a driving a go-cart is definitely welcomed.  Plus eight months in the ActiveE clearly had me jonesing for a manual transmission.  The Mini has been the perfect fix.

As fun as EVs are to drive, I crave a more interactive experience like that of driving a stick. Audi engineers had a stroke of genius when converting an A3 to an EV that can definitely help with this.  They took the paddle shifters resident in the A3 and made them the controls for regenerative braking level.  While not quite a manual transmission, it does add back some interaction and control over the driving experience. Plus, it should maximixe the amount of energy recouped during panic braking situations.  Hopefully other EV manufacturers will learn from Audi.

Driving this Mini also has me wishing that I had had the opportunity to drive the Mini-E.  Even though by all accounts it is much less refined than the ActiveE, the thought of an electric Mini is particularly alluring.  Perhaps one day Mini will consider building a 'born' electric Mini.  Heck, they've exhausted almost every other possible Mini variation, so why not an electric Mini designed from the ground up?

I've got a bit of time until I've got to decide on what my next EV will be, and apparently several more days before I get the current one back.  So for now, I'm going to love the Mini I'm with...

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