Monday, June 18, 2012

My MINI adventure

One day last month, with my wife and son busy doing their own things, I took my daughter out for lunch. We went to a favourite "light bites" restaurant called Limetree Cafe. They have recently opened one quite close to our house, so we went there and shared a lentil salad, some Arabic bread topped up like a pizza and  some lovely risotto cakes.

We finished our meal and went back to the counter for some take away dessert ... remembering that we had to bring some delicious goodies back home for Shaan and Reena. We picked up some banana cake, a chocolate brownie and a triple chocolate fudge cake (best served warm) which was to die for !

With our doggie bags in hand, we started to leave, but I suggested we take a quick detour into the attached Mini showroom (yes - that sounds and is peculiar). I took a look at some of the new coupe's. They did look good, and the convertibles particularly fun.

Ready to walk out, I was approached by a female sales person who kept me in the showroom for another 10 minutes ... convincing me to try sitting in the car, look at the boot space and the ease with which the roof opened and closed. She was very good at her job. Every time previously I have walked into a car showroom in Dubai (no matter what level of car manufacturer), I have found you have to almost beg to speak to a sales person to get any information. This, even though I wasn't looking to buy, was a breath of fresh air. She was polite and friendly and keeping my level of interest (and not ignoring my daughter).

I was impressed with the car and at the end of my 10 minute tour of the car in the showroom, I found myself sitting in a demo model that she had given me for the next 24 hours!

No hassles and no long wait  - she took a copy of my driving license, noted down my phone number and handed over the keys. An excellent way to hook a customer.

Unfortunately it was 2pm in late May in Dubai, and that is not a time to open the convertible, but nevertheless my daughter and I drove off on a joy ride for the afternoon.

The car is very well made and drives excellently. It is small, but feels solid in its handling. With a 1.6 twin turbo engine (188 BHP) it is nippy, and I can imagine it would be a perfect run around car in a European city ... but I am not sure about its suitability in Dubai with its big roads and big traffic!

In the early evening I took my son for a spin, and this time we could take the roof down. It was a lot of fun and there was no dramatic wind buffeting.

What I noticed in the showroom and got to enjoy when using the car was the on board computer. It connects easily to any Bluetooth phone (both my kids iPhones and my android) and not only connects them to a hands-free phone system, but also for streaming music (through some excellent Harmon Kardon speakers).

The attention to detail on the interior design is also excellent. There are some lovely switches that look AND feel great, and it doesn't feel like a car where common parts from other BMW models have been used for convenience ... everything is bespoke Mini, and the car is better for it.

From venturing out for a simple lunch with my daughter, I was so impressed with this car that I was almost convinced to buy it, but (perhaps thankfully), apart from the inconvenience of a being a 2 seater, my golf clubs didn't fit in the boot!

So the next day I picked up my son from school and we drove together to the showroom to return the car ... and I was sad to see it go. I do remain hugely tempted!

I'm aware I was driving a billboard, but it was fun anyway!

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