Show IPA adjective, -er, -est, noun, adverb
1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
4. licentious; dissipated; wanton: The baron is a gay old rogue with an eye for the ladies.
6. of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
A friend who intended to purchase a Mini asked me for opinions. I told her, my peers called it gay. Ok, gay it is. But do check the “other” dictionary meaning of “gay”. I think it describes the Mini perfectly.
I never liked Mini. It's too cute. Hence it's a women's car. If a man drives it, he'd look, well, gay. It's also far too common nowadays, and has totally lost the novelty of which early owners enjoyed. Furthermore, it's absurdly expensive for a 1.6 liter compact car.
Then, one particular Mini changed my mind. Just one. It swayed my opinion of Mini in 2 seconds when I set my eyes on it. Then it changed my mind entirely after test driving.
Mind you, I am not unfamiliar with Mini before this encounter. I tested the Cooper, the Cooper S and the blindingly fast JCW. I tested both manual and automatic transmissions. I even drove a borrowed Cooper for two weeks. I never liked any of them. Cooper was slow. Cooper S was not fast enough. JCW was too fast to be driven comfortably. Worse still, the JCW tried to look aggressive — have you ever seen a Chihuahua trying to act fierce? The car just looked sorely ridiculous with those tiny wings.
Then, one particular Mini changed my mind. Just one. It's a black Mini Cooper Convertible, with white side mirrors. The entire trim is in a brilliant combination of black and white. With the roof down, the car just shines.
I already know Minis handle great from past experience. You can dance with it. Zip through traffic with ease. One main complaint I had with the Cooper was that it lacked power. But power is one thing that you don't care as much when the roof is down and with the right music playing. It's a Mini. It's arguably not a sports car. It's not meant to be fast. So when a modified Civic 2.0 tailgates me, I can gracefully give way. It's a different story in a 2 liter Z4. You don't give way. You step on it. But it's embarrassing when you can't really pull away quickly because both are already doing 160km/h.
But the Mini is not slow at all. It's just fast enough for most legit purposes. It's definitely slower than a Z4, but for a slower car, I also get the fuel economy of 9l/100km, a nice figure that I haven't seen for a while.
Being not a sports car is a blessing. It doesn't need the aggressiveness. The Mini is a common people's car (ignoring the price tag in Malaysia). It's friendly. So you can appear at a lot of places without looking awkward or intimidating. Buy nasi lemak at the roadside. No problem. Try doing the same in a Lamborghini.
If I have to find fault about the car, it's the weight. It's 1280kg. My previous Z4 was 1240kg. The Mini is unnecessarily heavy for its size. If it's lighter, it can go faster and be even more economical.
Why did one Mini changed my mind? It suddenly dawned on me that Mini is a very individualistic car. No two Minis are exactly same. They may have the same color, but their interiors will be different. I like my Mini, but I don't necessarily like all the other Minis, such as my friend's favorite, the Lemon Yellow Cooper.
Mini is a fun, at the same time practical, car for me. (Note that my definition of practical is very different from the others). I used to call my black and white Mini the panda. Then my 2-year-old called it Mickey Mouse the first time he saw it. So it's officially the Mickey Mouse car now. My brother borrowed it and said it's fun, too. His idea of fun, judging from his bookshelf, has always been Socrates and quantum theories. If the Mini can stir up any emotion in him at all, then it must be really, really something.