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When I was young, I was the critical romantic. I loved anything to do with pink and purple, flowers, love movies, candlelight dinners and two-seater convertible cars. To me, that was the meaning of romantic. As time has gone by, my perspective of what is romantic has changed a lot but, I dont know why, I still think of sitting in a two-seater convertible with my lover as a perfect romantic dream. Guess what? Last Sunday, my dream became my lifea sweet smile from my husband at the other side of a carwe had a MINI convertible for a day!It didnt take us too long to fall in love with the tiny two-door and it seems like everywhere we went we drew onlookers attention. Rather, I should say, the MINI was a hit—not us—even though we were an extremely handsome couple. Maybe it was the cool blue metallic that caught peoples eyes or its 17-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels, or could it have been the twin chrome exhaust tips at its lower rear. Anyway, the MINI radiates the most powerful image when compared to any other cars on the road.

The MINI is fully capable, with a supercharged SOHC 16-valve engine that delivers 168-horsepower and 215 km/h top speed. With a manual transmission, the MINI is incredibly fast, going from 0-100 mph in 7.4 seconds-partly because the car is fairly light, even[STARTING TO SOUND A LITTLE CLICHÉ]. With its wide track, short overhangs, low centre of gravity, the MINI is a perfectly natural athlete. Though we didnt really have any romantic inclinations while driving, we certainly experienced lots of excitement on four wheels.

Since I have heard many comments about the choppy rides of the minis former models, the road I took was not the smoothest. All the dips and bumps turned a Sunday drive into a rollercoaster ride, but inside the car there was no discomfort. In fact, the MINIs stiff front strut axle and the multi-link rear-axle kept the ride stable even in unfavourable conditions, and the anti-roll bars counteracted the slant on sharp bends to give us an extra portion of that go-kart feeling.

Having a sports car, I knew I must try the Sea-To-Sky highway, the road from Vancouver to Whistler. This highway is anything but straight, it seems this car iron out the turns. The speed in a straight line along with the ability to throw the car around any corner and still be stuck to the road is incredible. Also, its center of gravity is so low that executing corners at high speeds is no problem. My husband kept peeking at the retro gauges and toggle switches on the dashboard; I knew he didnt appreciate my driving but kept sweating over my speed.

While low to the ground, the car feels tall inside. My six-foot-tall husband had no discomfort issues especially when the soft-top was open. There was ample space for two; my husband said it might have more room than his parents BMW. The MINI does not feel like other tiny two-seaters. Without backseat passengers, we have plenty of room, and we may fold down the rear seats for more cargo room.

On the highway because of the strong wind and noise, I put the top up; amazingly this convertible MINI is remarkably quiet and sound. I was surprised to find the top is totally automatic, with one magic button. There are no latches to undo like all others in the under-luxury class. Just hold one button and the top retreats first to a sunroof opening, then to full. The button even rolls all four windows down and up quickly and easily. Oh, and one more thing perhaps more fun than driving this MINI: parking it. It can fit into every curbside parking spot, for it is less than 12 feet long. Even the New Beetle is 13.4 feet long and the Chrysler PT Cruiser is 14.1 feet long.

This car has the common problem with convertibles in that it has poor blind spots in the rear. Most of whats behind you is soft-top, save for the small rear windshield, creating an almost cave-like effect.

Some other little issues – the sound systems rear speakers were blown. The trim that held the interior passenger door handle was loose, and putting the car into reverse was somewhat difficult. I didnt have trouble with any of the forward gears, but it seems the clutch did not want to let it go into reverse.

Is it worth it? MINI Coopers look like gadgets. With British manufacturing backed by German engineering, the BMW-owned MINI brand is just amazing. They are sophisticated, finely engineered cars that are as delightful to drive as they are to look at. That makes them well worth the price.

The problem of limited rear visibility can be easily dealt with by using the outside rear view mirrors if they are large enough. Otherwise, the MINI convertible is an incredibly fun car to drive—it delivers good fuel economy, it accelerates quickly, it stands out from the crowd—with a different sort of driving experience, a new personality, plus a drive for freedom. It has also a list of safety features—a reinforced body structure, extra-strength roll-over bars, traction control ASC+T for improved acceleration grip, and standard-feature front airbags and head-thorax side airbags. I simply enjoyed driving, enjoyed my romantic dream to the full though my husband got a little goofy, let the car look after itself.



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