Tag Archives: Hot Wheels

2022 MINI Cooper S Convertible

Wild paint, cool ragtop make MINI S an extrovert’s dream …

Extroverts love MINI Coopers and they should, people chat you up when you’re driving a Zesty Yellow (looks like neon green) MINI Cooper S Convertible.

Tony was one. He stepped right up in the Woodman’s parking lot to declare the near glowing MINI a sharp looker, and that was before I showed him the amazing power ragtop all decked out to resemble a blacked out Union Jack ($500 extra). Subtle!

It’s that roof that makes this MINI maximum fun, first because it powers down with the flip of one toggle by the windshield’s top. Only takes about 18 seconds for it to fold back into what would be a trunk. More on that trunk in a bit. But MINI (a BMW sub-brand) has finessed the top to retract partially first, creating, for all practical purposes, an open sunroof. Then if you’re wanting total exposure, hold the toggle and the roof reclines completely. Cool! Tony, a Ford F-150 driver, laughed and declared it a winner. It is!

I’ve said before that driving a MINI is more fun than anything else you can do with your clothes on, and it still is. This 2022 S version is frisky and the test car’s blacked-out theme ups the cute factor to about an 11.

In addition to that snazzy darkened British flag motif on the roof the MINI logo on the nose and tail are blacked out, meaning flat black on gloss black. Then there’s gloss black trim on the grille and trim rings on the head and taillights too, plus on a rear trim panel. My buddy Paul suggested all the headlights lacked were fake eyelashes to go completely campy.

Well, that may be a bit much, but onlookers mostly gave the updated MINI an enthusiastic thumbs up. But THEY didn’t get to drive it, and that, mates, is where the fun’s rubber (summer tires here) meets the road.

See Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the 2021 Mini Cooper S – YouTube

MINI weighs just a smidge over 3,000 pounds so the S version’s twin-turbo 2.0-liter I4 gives it plenty of oomph with 189 horsepower and a torque rating of 207. Car and Driver reports a 6.2-second run-up from zero to 60 mph. That’s achieved by using a toggle low on the center stack to choose Sport over the Mid or Green power levels. Sport is the fun one and gives the MINI an instant burst of power once you tromp the pedal. Mid is fine for city driving and Green is primarily for show, but aims at gas sipping.

That’s not a big need here as even driving mostly in Sport I managed 28.7 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving. The EPA rates this at 23 mpg city and 33 highway and this MINI prefers higher octane gas for maximum thrust, much as many of us do.

The expressive nose includes black rings on the headlights and a blacked out grille and logo.

Something younger folks may want to consider is something us oldsters mastered long ago, a 6-speed manual transmission. Not many sports cars, or many cars for that matter, offer a manual tranny anymore, but it makes putting that perky power down to the front-drive wheels a hoot as you work your way from first to sixth gear. I even spun the tires a bit, somewhat aided by damp fall streets.

An automatic is available, but for optimal fun, stick with the stick.

Handling is pure BMW, meaning road feel and feedback is primo and steering response quick. You pay for that a tad in somewhat heavier steering feel, but tossing this through corners on winding country lanes is so much fun you’ll barely notice. My only concern is the thick leather steering wheel, which might be a bit too thick for folks with small hands.

My other performance concern is ride. MINI rides on just a 98.2-inch wheelbase and with sport-oriented suspension the ride is rough, actually jarring at times. Comfort on Midwest roads is not its forte, although find a smooth blacktop highway and/or move to the South or West and pavement punishment will be less problematic.

Beyond the tooshie vibration, MINI’s Vibrasage ride is obvious because the passenger’s seat rattles quite a bit over bumps when no one is seated in it. I tried moving the seat to various notches, but to no avail. The rattle remained.

Otherwise the black leather seats here ($500 extra) are well formed so give good back and hip support. These are manual to save weight, but also provide a bottom cushion extension to help make taller occupants more comfortable, and the front seats are heated. That is part of a massive Iconic Trim package adding $7,500 to the price tag. Note that folks much taller than 6-foot-2 will find headroom more of an issue.

Back seat? Yes there is, but no one with legs will be admitted. This is primarily storage room or could hold a suitcase or two on a trip. The trunk won’t be much help as it is rated 6 cubic feet in the convertible, and that’s being generous. An overnight case or three bags of groceries will fit.

Loading isn’t tough, the rear panel below the black soft top folds down like a tailgate. Inside are two levers that can be released to allow the roof’s lower rear edge to be raised to facilitate easier loading of that MINIscule trunk.

Otherwise the black interior remains its quirky self. Those who have seen prior MINIs will feel at home. A larger 8.8-inch round info screen is now standard, although some space is wasted at the top due to its rectangular info screen being housed in the big round gauge opening.

Love this blacked out Union Jack roof. Subtle yet cool!

All that is easy enough to see and use, plus there’s still the knob on the console to quickly scroll through the radio stations. That’s much easier than trying to slide the touchscreen up or down as you drive as it’s a bit touchy.

As for other buttons and controls, they remain much the same as past models with toggles at the bottom of the center stack and some overhead. The steering wheel is somewhat revised with buttons on the hub, but with a tight cockpit this could really use a flat-bottom steering wheel. Also there’s a fold-down armrest between the front seats, but it is best left folded back out of the way, otherwise the driver’s right elbow tends to hit it during shifts.

Safety isn’t neglected, naturally. Driving aids include an active driving assistant system with forward collision, pedestrian and lane departure warning, plus high-beam assist. Rain-sensing wipers are standard and there’s an emergency call system if the car is in an accident. Outside mirrors are heated too.

Also outside you may notice the 2022 MINI has a revised grille and front and rear bumpers, plus sharp new wheels. Combine those spiffy wheels with its bright paint scheme and more than one observer claimed this MINI looked like a Hot Wheels car. That’s all good.

What’s not is the wind and road noise cockpit occupants will hear. Honestly it always sounded like there was an air leak around the tail of the car’s roof, even at moderate speeds. On the highway the truck noise and whoosh of passing cars also were distracting. On a country road, just a bit of tire noise, or if the top was down, well, naturally more wind noise.

Still, if you want a convertible you expect that, although a Mazda MX-5 Miata with hardtop convertible is quieter. Just sayin’!

A cool feature is how the convertible top retracts like a sunroof.

Note too, the test car’s $7,500 trim package really drove the price up, but it includes a bunch of goodies you may want, from the fancy Harmon/Kardon premium sound system (hard to hear with roof down don’t cha know), summer tires, the manual tranny, a navigation system, heated seats, and body-color mirrors, among others.

So the MINI Cooper S Convertible that started at a modest $32,750, with delivery, ended up at nearly $42 grand. If you can live with fewer options there’s plenty of wiggle room between the two extremes.

These snazzy new wheels make the MINI look like a Hot Wheels!

Don’t forget that for the value conscious there’s a base MINI Cooper Hardtop Oxford Edition at $20,600. The non-S MINIs come with a 3-cylinder, 1.5-liter engine that makes only 134 horsepower. An S Hardtop starts at $27,750 while the base convertible lists at $28,750.

So there are ways to snag a sassy-looking MINI that various budgets could afford.

FAST STATS: 2022 MINI Cooper S Convertible

Hits: Fun looks, good power, great handling, power convertible top with sunroof feature, 6-speed manual, plus sharp wheels. Supportive seats with bottom cushion extender, heated seats, big info screen, cool blacked out Union Jack roof.

Misses: Miniscule trunk, rough ride, passenger’s seat vibrates on bumps when not occupied, wind noise and road noise, plus needs flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Made in: Born, Netherlands

Engine: 2.0-liter twin turbo I4, 189 hp/207 torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Weight: 3,018 lbs.

Wheelbase: 98.2 in.

Length: 151.9 in.

Cargo: 6.0-8.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 23/33

MPG: 28.7 (tested)

Base Price: $32,750 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Options:

MINI Yours Leather Lounge, black, $500

Iconic trim (heated Nappa leather steering wheel, power folding mirrors, keyless entry, wind deflector, body-color mirrors, piano black exterior trim, auto-dimming rearview mirror, storage package, heated front seats, dual-zone climate controls, Harman/Kardon premium audio system, manual transmission, performance summer tires, touchscreen navigation plus with Apple CarPlay, and wireless charger), $7,500

Dynamic damper control, $500

MINI Yours soft top, $500

Test vehicle: $41,750

Sources: BMW/MINI, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

This hot wheels car is da bomb!

It was 1996 when we built the house we’re in now and had one big decision. Go to New Orleans to watch the Packers beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl or use that money to put in a Jacuzzi®. Well since going to the game would have been cool, it would only have been cool for a while, the Jacuzzi® would be with us for years.

I love taking what I call a “swirly”. Don’t read anything special into that word, it’s just warm water, jets, and something to make my skin feel silky smooth. It really relaxes me. Recently, I found a way to combine water jets and cars. For my birthday, my wife and daughter gave me a couple of Hot Wheels™ Da Bomb Bath Fizzers.

A quick look at the packaging and you might think that they are just regular bath fizzers with the Hot Wheels™ logo slapped on them. I plopped it onto the warm water and as it dissolved it revealed what else but a car. It’s made out of plastic and is about an inch long. It has a spring motor in it so if you hold it down and reverse it, the car will move forward on its own. Hot Wheels™ finds yet another way to reach new audiences and I love it.

The fizzers come in three colors, yellow, red, and blue and you should not have to pay more than seven or eight bucks for them. There are some places that are charging more. Go figure, price gouging on kids’ stuff. I thought that only happened when hot new cars come out.

Die-cast: Racing Champions’ Mint, Release 3A

Round2’s small scale cars deliver bang for the buck! …

As I mentioned in my introduction to this issue, Round2’s Johnny Lightning brand celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year and while various special releases are eminent, its Racing Champions brand continues to make similarly excellent 1/64 die-cast cars that are available right now. Continue reading Die-cast: Racing Champions’ Mint, Release 3A

Die-cast: Auto Worl’d Premium 2018 Release 4, True 1/64

Auto World True 1/64 Chevy Impala

True 1/64 scale cars are little gems from Round2 …  

Didn’t most of us start out collecting Matchbox, or later Hot Wheels, die-casts?

I spent a lot of time ogling and dreaming about those 75 metal 1/64 (roughly) scale Matchbox vehicles in my hobby shop’s display case. And when really lucky, I snagged a catalog. They were affordable, and a load of fun to play with, even before they developed better wheels.

Continue reading Die-cast: Auto Worl’d Premium 2018 Release 4, True 1/64

Big cash for small cars

A tale of two companies

matchbox cars, matchbox car valuesIt all began almost 67 years to the date in a closed down pub in London where an industrial die-casting company, Lesney, was born, leading to a huge collector market for metal 1/64th scale model cars. Lesney is the creator of Matchbox vehicles. The name itself came into being when one of the owners’ daughters wanted to bring a toy to school but the school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox so a scaled down version of a Lesney model went with her to school. Thinking they might have something, they used the one-0ff creation, the idea of selling a model of  a vehicle small enough to fit into the size of a matchbox. Matchbox was born and propelled Lesney to worldwide, mass-market success. Continue reading Big cash for small cars

Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Chasing Classic Cars: A Camaro soon to be classic.

2014 Camaro Hot Wheels edition

2014 Hot Wheels Camero, Hot Wheels Camero, Hot WheelsEvery may Mark and I head up to Road America (our favorite place) to the Midwest Automotive Writer Association event. There are cars from just about every manufacturer with the cars they want us to write about. Sure there are “family” cars but sprinkled in are lots of fun cars. In this case it was the 2014 Hot Wheels edition Camaro. This is the dream of millions of Hot Wheels® fans and the first time a full-size, production Hot Wheels® car has been offered for sale by any manufacturer. What a hoot! Check out the video by clicking on the image.

Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Series

Muscle and detail in 1:64 scale? Yes, from Auto World

Hats off to Round 2 and its Auto World line of TRUE 1:64 scale cars, both muscle cars and newer models, all offered at modest prices for collectors to augment their collections.

Auto World delivers six handsome die-cast models in 1:64 scale for $2.99 each. This is the series 1 release.
Auto World delivers six handsome die-cast models in 1:64 scale for $2.99 each. This is the series 1 release.

These are new tools and Auto World is taking a unique strategy with 1960s muscle cars and other classics, plus some of those classics’ newer counterparts. It is offering 1:64 scale cars with better detail than in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that flood the market. Yet these cars come in at three attractive price points, $2.99, $5.99 and $6.99.

The TRUE lineup includes cars with accurately scaled wheels and tires, even at the $2.99 entry point. These have die-cast bodies, but plastic chassis with free-rolling hard wheels. All are nicely displayed and sold on blister cards. Detailing is good with painted head and taillights and logos, plus accurate hood and air scoops, such as on the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible and 1984 Camaro Z28 samples we got. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Series