2014 Mini Cooper: Coachella's Answer to the Bus and Beetle?
April 15, 2015
The annual Coachella music festival isn't only known for being an epic congregation of music fans, but for a particular kind of fashion sense: BoHo style, girls with the wispy hair and flower crowns, and guys with the man buns. Likewise one can't help but think that a road trip to Coachella requires a certain kind of car. Woodstock had the VW Bus and Bug, so what would work for Coachella?
Our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper did a pretty good job with its wide-eyed fascia, adorable compactness, and fun, millennial appeal. But did it deliver more than looks as a Coachella car?
The compact trunk did a decent job of containing weekend luggage of sandals and desert wear for two people. Fortunately, for any extra purchases like concert tees, records and more water bottles, the small backseat serves as bonus cargo space, better than extra passenger space anyway.
Since we're music fans, the satellite radio, especially the channel playing the live performances at the festival, was much appreciated. But the audio controls aren't very intuitive. The placement of menu, nav and radio buttons in the narrow space between the seats took some time to notice. I won't say how much but let's just say we broke out the owner's manual, which still didn't help. However, once we figured out how to hook up our phone, the sound system delivered and made us question our decision to leave the air-conditioned car for the desert heat of the event.
In terms of ride, the Mini was smooth on flawless road, but the dirt parking lot at the festival definitely required more care. Imperfect highways also required turning up the volume due to all that road noise.
The seats were comfortable enough to last a non-stop drive from L.A. to Indio, about 135 miles.
The mesh top, as previously noted, is lousy for blocking out the sun, but at least there's "MAX A/C" to the rescue. The full-blast, air-conditioner function cooled down the cabin from 100-degree temperatures in no time, while the white leather seats made easing behind the wheel, after the Mini sat all day in the desert sun, a not-so-scary proposition.
The only other points that count against the Mini as the perfect Coachella conveyance is that it only has one USB port up front. How can Millennials charge up all their smartphones, iPads, or whatever kids depend on nowadays with a single port? And two cupholders up front are not nearly enough to contain our date shakes and pour-over coffees.
Otherwise, a fun road trip car all around. Coachella or bust.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor