10 Cool Features of the MINI Cooper

Since I bought my MINI Cooper three months ago, I’ve regularly noticed
new design touches that have made me appreciate the car more and more.
Only a few of them are unique to the MINI, but taken as a whole they
spell out an attention to detail that is unusual in a car priced (for
the most part) under $30,000. I’ll start the list off at ten, but I
will continue to make updates as I discover more things (and you’re
welcome to add to it in the comments):

  1. Sunroof: if you press the top-down button on my convertible, the roof retracts about 16″—creating an excellent sunroof. To my knowledge, this is the only car that has this feature.
  2. Variable-speed windshield wipers: if you’ve got the wipers on anything but intermittent, stopping the vehicle reduces their speed to the next-lowest setting.
  3. A/C vent in the glovebox: keeps the glovebox contents from melting or freezing, depending on your air conditioning selection.
  4. Single-use trunk unlock: pressing the trunk unlocking button on the remote does exactly what you’d expect. But when you close it, the trunk locks itself again. Exactly what you’d want even though you didn’t expect it.
  5. Locking gas cap: there is no visible lock on the gas cap nor is there any obvious lever in the car’s interior with which to open it. Unlocking the doors (maybe just the driver’s side alone—I’ll have to check it out) unlocks the gas cap and vice versa.
  6. Lights on the bottom of the doors: when you open up either of the doors, a light on the bottom of the door automatically turns on. This illuminates the area that you will soon be standing in and has saved me countless times from stepping directly into a large puddle.
  7. Chair memory: I didn’t opt for the power seats but the basic seats have a limited positional memory. When you move up the seat to let the back seat passengers embark, the seats will return to their original positions by just pushing them back. It’s hard to describe but it’s very nicely done.
  8. Headlights: the headlights are attached to (or a part of, rather) the hood. This allows you to pop the hood with the headlights on and illuminate trees, billboards, low-flying witches, and the like. As far as I know, this is utterly unique to the MINI—and sadly is going away in the 2007 models.
  9. Self-locking top: the convertible has an interesting guide system that fully automatizes the closing and locking process. I’ve had several convertibles in the past that required manual intervention at the last moment to secure the top. This is much, much better.
  10. Cigarette lighter in the trunk: this, combined with the fold down nature of the trunk, makes for a very useful tailgate party vehicle.

To my mind, these collectively remind me of Apple’s famous reputation for detail.

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