2014 Mini Cooper: Borrego Springs Tire Delivery Service
August 10, 2015
Bill and Linda, my friends in Borrego Springs, bought some new tires for a first-generation Mazda RX-7 that they own and are restoring to running condition. We'd all been at Buttonwillow Raceway at a track event and they got a deal on some tires from the resident tire vendor.
But they were headed on vacation after the event, or maybe they had no room because they were picking up their German Shepard from the sitter, I forget which. Maybe both. I volunteered to take the mounted tires home, stash them in my garage for a bit and bring them the rest of the way next time I was in the mood for an early morning drive.
There was a precedent at work. I'd driven down to their place on a whim in our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, leaving before sun-up and arriving in time to share morning coffee on their porch. The route there is laced with some amazing roads, especially the final plunge down S22 to the floor of the remote valley that contains Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego State Park.
This time I had the keys to our 2014 Mini Cooper, another great choice for eastern San Diego County's back roads. But it doesn't have nearly as much cargo space as our GTI. Was I getting in over my head?
No problem. MPS to the rescue: Mini Parcel Service. What can Blue do for you?
I had to fold the seat down, of course. And the cream-colored interior needed protection from the tires in the form of a couple of strategically-placed cardboard scraps. This reminded me why I hate light-colored interiors. The driver's seat is beginning to take on a hint of the dreaded blue-jean tint, too.
But I digress.
The base model Mini and its new 1.5-liter turbo mill has plenty of poop for these flowing roads, which are filled with momentum corners that come one after the other. High horsepower isn't needed, just a light and nimble chassis that can maintain speed into turns and carry it through to the exit. At this, the Mini is expert.
There isn't a ton of shifting out here, but on several occasions I wished our automatic had the paddle shifter option. Or let's take it another step: make mine manual.
Like the Golf GTI, the Mini Cooper has plenty of stretch-out room for tall guys, as well as a generous telescopic steering column. My main gripe is the sunroof's porous fabric sunshade, which does not block 100 percent of the light and heat. To me, it's opaque or nothing. And quite frankly I'd rather take nothing and pocket the cash. I've never been a sunroof fan.
Even though this trip to Borrego Springs was more premeditated than the last one, it was no less enjoyable. The Mini was an absolute blast, the company was great and the coffee was delicious.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 18,485 miles