We took delivery yesterday on the Mini Cooper Countryman All4 we ordered a while back, which makes me happy, since this means I get to drive it a little bit before I trundle off on my three-week book tour. As you can see here, it’s a pretty little machine — but more than that it’s also by all indications also very solidly built, which is more to the point. As I’ve noted earlier, the Scalzi family philosophy toward major purchases is “buy as well as you can, then use it until it falls apart,” which is why the Countryman is replacing a car that is older than our daughter and has enough miles on it to go a significant amount of the way to the moon. We’ll likely have this car just as long, so we made sure we bought something we could live with for that length of time.
I mentioned to Krissy that one of the things that makes this particular car special is that I suspect it will the last car of ours that we ever buy with an internal combustion engine, or at the very least, the last car we buy primarily powered by one. The Odyssey we have is pretty healthy and I suspect will chug along for another five to eight years, and by that time I expect that electric engines — or hydrogen fuel cell engines, or whatever — will have advanced enough that I won’t have to feel like an early adopter (i.e., willing to put up with large inconveniences for the privilege of feeling smug). I’m looking forward to that purchase, although when I say I’m looking forward I should note that doesn’t mean I’m in a rush. Cars are expensive, man.
As we’ll be living with this car for some time, we did pile on the bells and whistles, and the one that’s currently giving me that “I Live In the Future” twinge is Countryman’s key, which is not a key at all but looks like a tiny flying saucer. To make the car go, it doesn’t need to be put anywhere specific, it just has to be in proximity to the car. That achieved, all you have to do is press a button to start the car, and off it goes. Now, I realize this nifty little trick has been around for a few years, but on the other hand, it’s not been around on any car I owned, so the experience is new to me. I have to fight the temptation just to sit in my new car and turn it on and off without a key. Yes, I am just that easily amused.