I don’t know what Hyundai are doing with the Veloster Turbo release, and I’m not sure that they know either. It’s been a few weeks now since the VT started showing up and there is a helpful guy on a forum who is posting the US shipping database every couple of days, and here is an example.

If you look real closely, you’ll see there aren’t very many in CA yet, and if you ask local dealers they will tell you they have no idea when or if they are getting anything. And what there is, is very automatic tranny-centric. I think of the almost 300 on that list there are perhaps 2 or 3 that match what I want, and none of them within 1500 miles of me. An Oxnard dealer says there are another 200 waiting at the port and he expects a couple, but has a waiting list of 35. All this suggests I am in for a very long wait on the Veloster Turbo.

Which got me thinking….. how does a new MINI stack up? So I got on the configurator and came up with this (ice ice) baby.

2012 MINI Cooper S 2013 Veloster Turbo
MSRP $27,350 (likely negotiable) $25,475 (min price)
Options Premium Pkg, Sport Package, Garage Door Opener Ultimate Package, Garage Door Opener
Extras Climate control, auto headlights, rain sensor, DSC 7″ touch screen, deluxe stereo system
Performance 27 / 35/ 30 MPG, 0-60 6.2s, 141 mph 26 / 38/ 30 MPG, 0-60 6.8s, 121mph

So a similarly equipped MINI is about $2k more expensive MSRP but I figure you can probable get under that these days. The biggest difference is that the MINI doesn’t have the technical package of the Veloster but in its favour is that I expect it will be of much better build quality, and of course much better handling. The other difference is that I can probably have the MINI I want in a few weeks rather than the (possibly) months for the VT.

Hmmm… indeed.

Ouch, Stop Poking Me There!

I’ve had my MINI almost 7 years all without an accident but I finally got a little bump today. Waiting at the stop light, number 4 in line, the light goes green, the car in front of me pulls away, I pull away, he suddenly stops accelerating, I do the same, car behind me goes into the back of me.

It felt big, everything on my parcel shelf went flying and I really thought I’d find half of my boot missing. But when we pulled over you couldn’t see any damage at all unless you looked real close to see a crack in the paintwork on the bumper. The guy was super apologetic and nice about it. I didn’t spot that he was English but he did have a Union Jack wallet and he knew that Southampton FC had been promoted last season. He gave me his number, told me to let him know if I find something that needed fixing, or if I suddenly developed medical issues.

With the amount of driving I do, the statistics say that I’m bound to have an accident. If that is mine, can’t do better than that.

Why I Like the Veloster Turbo

Several people have said “oh noes” you can’t get rid of your MINI, or “what an ugly piece of crap, how can you want one of those!” so I thought I’d point out some reasons that the VT appeals.

  • Price. For $26k or so I can get a sporty looking vehicle that can do 0-60 in just under 7 seconds, has sunroof, rear camera, 7″ touch screen with Pandora, bluetooth, navigation etc…. I can even plug my PS3 into it and play games on the screen. I can’t get a comparable MINI, Audi, BMW (not that I ever would) etc for that
  • Looks. I happen to like how it looks. Unlike the last point, we can agree to disagree.
  • Cost Savings. I do about 23,000 miles a year, 2/3rd of that on the motorways. Quick fag packet calculations… my MINI currently gets about 25 mpg, let’s say gas is $4 a gallon so that’s $3680 a year for the hot juice. The VT is advertised as 38, so lets say I actually get 34, gas is #3.80 a gallon so that’s $2570. I just saved a $1000 in gas. And I’m still having fun.
  • Rarity. For better or worse I like vehicles that are different. My first car in the USA was a Toyota Paseo, have you ever seen one of those on the road? Exactly. So the VT appeals as it will be a car that turns heads (even if only to puke) and therefore appeals to that inner need I seem to have for attention (ah, the old dance competition days….).

So there’s a few reasons. I think the car is going to be very hard to find for a while, but I really would like to get one before my MINI is up for registration at the end of August. My choice is for a Vitamin C (read: copper/orange), Manual Transmission with the Ultimate package but I may have to give up on colour, we’ll see.

150k Miles

Last night on the way out from work I passed 150k miles in the MINI. Couldn’t take a picture on the button as I was moving but did get it just a mile later.

The oil pressure light is coming on again when I take a sharp corner fast, really need to get her back in for an oil change, or I suppose I could top it off again in the expectation that she is being soon replaced?

Veloster Turbo Pricing

Hyundai finally announced pricing for the 2013 Veloster line today including, of course, the Turbo I’ve been waiting for. The bottom line on the Turbo is that it will be $21,950 for the MT and $22,950 for the AT. An Ultimate Package is available for $2,500 which adds

  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Backup warning sensors (bodycolor sensors with specific exterior colors)
  • Navigation system with rearview camera
  • Automatic Headlights
  • 115V outlet

Some of the highlights of the Turbo are

  • 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine
  • 201HP at 6000RPM, weight to power ratio of 14lbs per hp
  • 38MPG Highway
  • Very fancy TFT screen on the dash, can even play XBOX 360 (what, no PS3?)

There is still no official word on whether Vitamin C (orange, basically) is available in the Turbo but my first choice for colour would be between that and the red. Oddly there is a $200 upcharge for Pearl White (not that I would ever want a white car in the desert) and a whopping $1000 for matte grey!

So if I were to go for an Ultimate MT I’m looking at around $26500 out of the door if I have to pay MSRP, but I am expecting a local credit union’s car buying service to find me better than that.

Not rushing into anything yet, but it might be getting close to time to do something.

Paper or Plastic

Now this question is as age-old as the chicken and the egg but as my mind scours the internets for more details of the Veloster Turbo I ask myself paper or plastic? Manual or Automatic ?

Like many, I am from the old school of thought that if you aren’t shifting you aren’t driving. And certainly in mixed traffic there is often satisfaction from a quick gear change and a whirl of the engine to get you into the clear. But on the flip side I spend a lot, no almost all, of my weekly driving in stop start traffic and the shifting is no longer any fun. I dream of having an automatic that I can just nudge along with my right foot.

So as I think towards the next car I wonder if I should go with the manual, or spend the extra for the automatic ? Don’t really know.

Warning Lights Gone At Last

You might remember (and if not its right there below this post…) that I had three warning lights on my dash recently: brake pads, traction control, and flat tyre. Well I am happy to say that I am now warning-light free:

It took three trips to Pep Boys to get it fixed though.

  1. Got the brakes done, front and back, all lights remained on
  2. After a couple of weeks there was this bad sounding crunching noise from the rear right when I braked so I took it back. They discovered that a bolt in the brake caliper was broken. They replaced it. Noise gone. I mentioned that the brake pad light was still on and asked if they had perhaps not replaced the sensor wires. They ordered wires.
  3. About 150 miles after the bolt was fixed, the DSC and tyre warning lights went out
  4. Back to Pep Boys for the sensor wires. Final light out.

Sure seemed like a lot of effort to get brakes done, but the cost for both sets of brakes was about the same price I paid for one set at the MINI garage I usually go to. Car is driving just great.


A few weeks ago I think I made the decision to sell the MINI. I say I think because it is such a great car to drive but after 7 years (plus 3 in the previous one) it is time for a change. It used to be that driving a MINI was a community thing but I don’t remember the last time I got a wave back from a fellow owner, the price of gas prevents me from driving the 150+ miles to join in any club events, so the MINI is just a means to get to my job each week, 130 miles away. I don’t have cruise control, the seats irritate on long journeys, there aren’t even any gadgets to keep me occupied.

So I am anticipating moving to a different vehicle in the summer. Now I must be doing something wrong because all the ex-MINI owners I know went on to Audis, BMWs etc but I can’t afford to move up, only down so we will see what I end up with. I’m currently looking at the Hyundai Veloster as a good mix of looks, technology and cost but I need to see just how poor the acceleration is. Of course nothing I buy will match the performance of the MINI but that’s ok, I seldom drive it like a race car.

Might yet change my mind, a few bills each month is better than a car loan, but for now I’m enjoying the idea of something new.

Warning Lights and Noises

A couple of months ago two warning lights came on out of the blue: the tyre pressure warning light and the dynamic steering control light. I took the car to the America’s Discount Tyre to get a pressure check and they verified there was nothing wrong with the pressure. There’s nothing in the book about what to do if both lights come on at once and I figured there was a fault in the pressure sensor that caused the computer to disable the DSC.

Then, three weeks ago I picked up one more:

I knew it had been a very long time since I replaced the brakes so this was no surprise. My regular MINI guy wants $500 for each set so I took it to my local Pep Boys who did front, back, pads and rotors for $530 out of the door with a $60 rebate coupon.

The pad warning light was still on so I did a little research online and found that once the sensor light comes on, the sensors need to be replaced, and Pep Boys did not do that. No biggie, I’ll get to it later.

A week later and now when I brake at slow speeds there is a knocking metallic noise coming from the right rear wheel. It sounds bad and it doesn’t feel that great either. So I go back to Pep Boys and ask them to take a look at their work and could I have new sensors too. They found that a bolt in the brake calipers on that wheel had broken and the noise was it rubbing; they fixed it. Glad about that, not sure if that would have been fun for it to break completely. They didn’t have the sensors so I will have to go back.

This was Saturday and I’ve been driving around with all three lights on my dash and then this afternoon at lunch I noticed that the original two didn’t come on. Then tonight on the way from work they were still off. So I really don’t know what that was about.

Bad MINI Math

My commute to San Diego on Monday was pretty bad, winds up and over the mountains must have been at least 30-40mph right on the nose. So it’s no surprise really that my petrol fill up today was pretty bad.

Miles driven: 260
Cost to fill tank: $50
Miles per gallon: 23.8

With Premium now impossible to find under $4.50 in San Diego, I really need to be doing better than that. I miss the days where I used to get almost 30.