Monday, July 7, 2014

My MINI and Me: Driving the MINI Cooper S in Metro Manila

Wazzup Pilipinas!

I was destined to drive the MINI. That's for sure! Of all the luck in the world, I had to be given the opportunity to be among the first ones to test drive the Mini for more than 24 hours around the streets of Metro Manila. I took it home with me on the night of the first day, and drove it again the following day on a road trip with my wife and kids.

My wife and I were comfortable upfront, but my three kids felt crowded at the back. It seems the MINI is not meant for a family of five. My kids are almost as big as us so that's where the problem lies. They just grew up to fast for us to realize they are of adult size already.

If they were still on their elementary years, they would have fit very nicely, but the particular MINI that I got was just too small for them. But we did manage to go around the Metro with very little complaint form them - that is after a few hours of driving.

From its location in the Bonifacio Global City showroom, I took it with me in Makati to meet up a blogger friend for a restaurant review. I was a given a chance to review Top of the Citi, one of the three famous restaurants of renowned Chef Jessie. I think it took me three hours before we were done so I paid for three hours of parking near the Citibank Towers.

I had the best time in the restaurant, but never imagined I would have a disturbing time enduring the traffic jam of Makati during the peak hours of 6 pm on a Tuesday. It took me around 2 hours to reach Pasig city. Driving using any other car is really bad when you are caught in the traffic of Metro Manila. It was a good thing the MINI was comfortable enough, with the cool air-conditioning, and comfortable seats, the superb sound system, and the automatic driving, I worried very little and endured the pain of being stuck in Makati for more than an hour.

I got to Pasig to fetch my daughter who patiently waited for me in a fast-food restaurant near her school, and apologized for being so late. I should have known I would be caught in traffic since managing our time really is unpredictable especially when there are other people in the equation. You cannot really impose punctuality on everyone since everything around us seems to be unpredictable. After apologizing, we then drove towards our home nearby, parked the car and waited excitedly for tomorrow.

The second day was more hectic as we did a lot than the usual, just to try out if the MINI really works. We took the MINI to where we could run it a little faster than the streets of Metro Manila. I'm talking about a place where there are only a few living souls around, and a place where photo ops are better since the surroundings are mostly green in color.We drove the MINI around the Garden of Memories located in the municipality of Pateros.

True enough, there were very little people around. The place is only crowded during All Souls Day, and All Saints Day. The place looks like an abandoned area where the only visible structures that you can see are the cemetery chapel and the office building.

"Just step on the brake, flip the glowing red toggle and satisfy your primal motoring urges."

No more keys, just a start/stop toggle switch.

It really was an awesome driving machine. The MINI was a lot smarter than the usual cars, and with an dashboard interface that looks like it came out from a sci-fi movie, I felt I was safe and secure. There are constant indicators when other vehicles are near and were even color-coded to indicate how near and any possibility perhaps of bumping. I'm pretty sure any newbie driver will feel comfortable driving the MINI.

If my kids were old enough, I would allow them to try driving it so they would also appreciate the beauty of this driving machine.

I finally took it to driving the streets of Metro Manila. From Pateros we went back to Makati to fetch some Fiftea milk tea at their newest branch, went to Rockwell to eat at Chef Jessie's Rockwell Club, and then back to the Bonifacio Global City to surrender the car back to its showroom.

With a new MINI TwinPower turbo engine, adjustable driving modes and evolved cockpit stocked with new features, the new Mini is more grown-up, and more like a baby BMW, than ever before.
"Every new MINI has 3 driving modes you can switch on the fly. For extra punch, use Sport Mode to automatically adjust your shift points and suspension settings for a stiffer, sportier ride, especially when equipped with Variable Damper Control. For a more comfortable, fuel-efficient ride, switch into Green Mode. With a softer suspension, tweaked shift points and a coasting feature that disengages the transmission when your foot’s off the gas, Green Mode maximizes every last bit of engine efficiency and kinetic energy for downright miserly fuel consumption. And when you want best of both worlds, kick it into mid-mode for a happy motoring medium."

Though I kept it in Normal driving mode, I guess the Green mode is more suitable in Metro Manila streets. You an use the Sport mode in provincial streets where the roads are more available for speedy driving.

You will appreciate the convenience but can't really appreciate the other features of the car in the busy roads of Metro Manila. Better take it for a spin at a nearby province where the roads are wider and there's plenty of room to speed up for a longer period of time. This is when you'll really see how fascinating to drive a MINI.
"What’s that big LCD screen in the heart of your dash? It’s really just an intuitive window to all your favorite stuff. Bluetooth-pair your iPhone or Android device with ease, email directions straight to your optional MINI Connected system, update your Facebook and Twitter status, or just play your favorite tunes, web radio, and Pandora stations through a gorgeous, silky smooth interface."

Talk about futuristic designs for the interface. I've seen high-tech and modern but it's only in the MINI where you'll really be awestruck by how ingenious the designs are. It's not a so humble design, and more like an achievement deserving to be flaunted.
"Like an incredibly responsive mood ring, your MINI’s sleek LED light ring changes color in response to your engine speed, driving mode, audio volume, climate control or interior lighting. Of course, you can also leave it on one consistent color if that’s the kind of mood you’re in."

It's intuitive and can sense your mood by how you drive. It understands your character, and adjusts itself to your every desire.

For now I will park this car, and maybe someday when I have all things in place, I will buy one, if not for me I will gladly give it to my wife or kids as a gift because I care for them and would love to give them a car that will take care of them and keep them safe.

The new MINI is so familiar, yet so different. It is now backed up by more superior technology and convenience. Faster, safer and more connected than a switchboard, the new MINI is completely different from all the other cars out there (I wonder if they are talking about their rivals: the Ford Fiesta, the Peugeot 208, and the Citroen DS3). It's completely redesigned from the bottom up. It may be a small car, but it's a lot of fun!

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