2005 Mini Cooper S

My automotive holy grail has always been to find a year-round car that's as fun to drive as my Alfas. I think this is it! Makes nice noises, lots of power, solidly built, and corners like the proverbial go-kart. Like my Alfas, I have a grin on my face by the time I get to the garage to take her for a drive, and that, to me, is the ultimate yardstick.

Some people buy Minis because they're so damned cute. Others but them because they're so damned fun to drive. Still others buy them because they're so damned inexpensive. Me, I'm in all three camps!

This is the S version of the Mini, the S standing for Supercharged, meaning that the engine makes 168 HP versus 115 HP in the standard version—not bad for a car weighing around 2500 pounds. The S also has a six-speed stick, larger wheels, run-flat tires, freer-flowing exhaust, and a sportier suspension. All Minis have great handling characteristics due to the wheels being positioned way out in the corners (which also results in a roomy interior) and the attention the designers paid to such considerations.

Because of demand, Minis have to be ordered from the factory. This means that I got to order mine just the way I wanted it. So this car is a Mini Cooper S in metallic British Racing Green with body-color roof and mirrors, no sun roof (that's what my Giulietta is for), beige leather interior, Dynamic Stability Control (it's fantastic in winter driving), on-board computer, heated seats and mirrors, steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, and climate controlled A/C.

The Mini is such a hoot! Motor on, dudes!


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