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Day 5 of the MINI Takes The States Tour saw me back in the Clubman for one final jaunt, with a relatively uneventful drive from Columbus to Indianapolis. A back road detour had us on a road worthy of a car commercial, freshly paved in black asphalt, winding through various Ohio cornfields and small towns. But the best was yet to come, as I was about to get my chance to lap the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although it was officially a slow speed “parade lap”, I found a way around that and was able to experience the joys of going flat out around an oval – or a reasonable facsimile of it.
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Day 4 Of the MINI Takes The States Tour was an exciting one for me, as I was able to sample the all-new MINI Countryman before nearly anyone else. Saturday’s epic blast through two states left me exhausted, and I was expecting the Countryman to be a little more laid back than the Clubman S I drove yesterday. I was wrong. Don’t think of the Countryman as a MINI SUV, but as a MINI Cooper S for people with obligations.
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Day 3 of the MINI Takes The States Tour placed a big emphasis on driving. Not the kind of stop and go commuter traffic that we experienced in New York, Philly and Baltimore, but on the kind of high performance spirited driving that MINIs are known for.
Don’t get me wrong – as much as auto writers posture about blasting across twisty blacktop or exiting a corner on a road course with the wheel cranked at full lock, they know somewhere deep down they understand that their audience wants to know how the car does in the daily grind of traffic, gas mileage and all the unglamorous stuff left to plebian drivers. These are the conditions where we drive our press cars 95% of the time; stuck in a barely moving single file row of other cars, belching greenhouse emissions, A/C cranked and the same Lady GaGa song playing across the same 5 radio stations owned by one media conglomerate.
If you’re test driving a mid-size sedan, then the review will be centered on these conditions. But if you’re in something a bit sportier, you’ll go to bed a little earlier on a Friday night and maybe not go to the bar with your buddies. The alarm will be set for an ungodly hour, but you won’t need that double batch of morning coffee, because the urgency will be there. It’s like Christmas morning even though the August humidity is just starting to creep into your day. Today was one of those days.
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The second day of the MINI Takes The States Tour was a busy one and I’m thrilled to report that I now have a proper camera and no longer have to subject you to pictures taken with my Blackberry. With a drive in an electric MINI and a visit to one of America’s best vintage sports car collections, it was an ideal day for any gearhead.
Hit the jump to see more of Day 2 of the Mini Takes The States Tour
The 1st day of the MINI Takes The States Tour kicked off with a bit of a surprise – it turned out that a MINI press car was unable to take me from Newark Airport to our first destination, so I had to slum it in a BMW 550i. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.
Unfortunately, the 550i’s nav system took me in the opposite direction from New York, nearly sending me to Camden, New Jersey, ranked America’s most dangerous city in 2009. Not exactly the kind of place you want to take a brand new Bimmer.
All was resolved thanks to a local friend who laughed at my inept sense of direction and set me on course for Manhattan’s Meat Packing District. I set forth for MILK Studios, a gallery space where MINI was hosting a launch event for the new 4-door Countryman SUV, as well as the launch point of the Eastern leg of the MINI Takes The States Tour.
Once I hit Manhattan, I began to wish for a Mini Cooper S to help weave through the atrocious traffic. Being an admitted small car guy (my Miata keys in my pocket), the 5 Series was not my ideal vehicle, though I was kept in air conditioned, HD Radio’d comfort for the few hours (yes, hours) it took me to get from Newark to Downtown Manhattan.
Keep reading more MINI Takes the States Tour, Day 1: New York after the jump: