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2011款MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4:加长型迷你车

2011款MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4:加长型迷你车

Alex Taylor III 2011年05月09日

    汽车设计与工程领域里有条不变的法则:越是新出的车越大。

    没有哪个汽车规划师会要求缩小座位空间或者行李箱的大小;也没有哪个设计师希望缩小充当其画布的金属片的面积;工程师更不会希望减少车中的设置——他只会希望不断增加设置的数量。

    从不曾有人质疑过这一汽车巨型化运动。因为在人们眼里,这种现象就像重力的存在一样:属于毋庸置疑的自然法则。

    现以本田雅阁(Honda Accord)为例说明我的观点。生产这款汽车的本田公司的座右铭是“最大驾乘空间,最小机械体积。” (Maximum man, minimum machine.) 1976年,在美国销售的首款本田雅阁被归入微型车之列,全长4.1米(162英寸)。

    该款雅阁最终成为美国的畅销车。但是,这并未阻止本田公司不断扩大雅阁的“体型”。2011款的雅阁已被列为标准车型:全长4.9米,比其始祖长了近0.9米(3英尺)。

    既然如此,为什么我会对2011 款MINI Cooper Countryman如此咬牙切齿,痛恨不已?说到底,与首款MINI Cooper相比,2011款不过增加了两扇车门,仅增长了0.4米(15英寸)而已。

    Countryman仍然一望便知是款迷你车,扁平的车顶,外形可爱,色彩富有亲和力。跑在路上,绝无雷同者。

    而且,Countryman依然保持着一些跨界车的特点,比如有后车盖,采用四轮驱动,离地距离很短,放物品的空间小到可笑的地步。所有这些都是传统迷你车的特点。

    不仅如此,在起步加速赛(stoplight drag race)中,Countryman始终胜过身型比它大的车辆;而且转弯时就像个带发动机的滑板一样灵活,与首款MINI毫无二致。这款四门跑车更接近马自达MX-5 Miata,而不是福特探路者(Ford Explorer)。S版的Countryman的引擎具备涡轮增压功能,1.6升,181马力。在不足8秒的时间内,利用手动传动装置,即可加速到60英里/小时,俨然是个口袋火箭。

    但是,此类笨拙驾驶不利于燃料经济性。Countryman的燃料效率为25英里/加仑(城市),31英里/加仑(公路),远远低于针对与其大小相近的车辆的新标准——40英里/加仑。在行驶了200多英里(其中绝大部分是公路)之后,我只能勉强保持28英里/加仑的水平。

    MINI迷都是舍得花钱的主。我这辆浅白色测试车搭载增压发动机,厂商建议零售价为26,950美元。采用鲜艳的红黑相间的座套,直径堂而皇之地达到近半米(18英寸)的合金车轮,整体漆成炭黑色,再加上其他几样华而不实的装置,价格便一下子飙升到31,150美元。

    如果MINI能改进其质量低劣的仪表板和怪里怪气的人体工程学设计,我会喜欢它远胜过现在。车内采用的塑胶材料的尺寸与质量,与饼干盒内的分割装置毫无二致。开关倒是多种多样,尽管其制造商自我标榜这些开关极富创意,但功能性却不尽如人意。

    MINI的可靠性记录乏善可陈。如果不提及这点,那我就太不负责任了。在保持英国工程与制造的良好传统方面,在市场研究机构J.D. Power公司公布的3年可靠性排名中,MINI名列最末。它不仅落后于英国汽车的另一典范路虎(Land Rover),而且有辱其所有者和经营者宝马公司(BMW)的名誉。

    如果凯特王妃和威廉王子蜜月归来后,想树立一个新的事业目标的话,他们不妨担当起一份重任,那就是改进目前仍在英国境内组装的几个汽车品牌——以免MINI“叛逃”到德国。

    译者:大海

    It is an invariable rule of auto design and engineering: Cars get bigger with age.

    No product planner ever asked for tighter passenger accommodations or a smaller trunk; no designer wants less sheet metal to serve as a canvas for his art; no engineer wants to take stuff out of a car -- he wants to add more.

    Nobody ever questions this movement toward automotive giganticism because it is like the existence of gravity: an incontestable law of nature.

    For evidence, I offer the jury the Honda Accord, made by the company whose motto is "Maximum man, minimum machine." The first Accord to reach these shores in 1976 was classified as a compact and stretched out to all of 162 inches.

    In time, the Accord went on to become the best-selling car in America. But that didn't stop Honda from making it larger and larger. The 2011 Accord is now classified as full-size. It is 194 inches from stem to stern -- nearly three feet longer than its prehistoric ancestor.

    So why this gnashing of teeth over the 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman, which has grown two more doors and a mere 15 inches from the original MINI Cooper?

    The Countryman is still immediately identifiable as a MINI, with its flat roof, friendly face, and extroverted paint job. There is nothing else like it on the road.

    Although the Countryman has some crossover characteristics like a rear hatch and all-wheel-drive, the ground clearance is minimal, and the cargo space is laughable -- all traditional MINI traits.

    And the Countryman still squelches bigger cars in stoplight drag races, and it corners like a motorized skateboard the way the original MINI did. It is a four-door sports car. The Countryman is a lot closer to an MX-5 Miata than it is a Ford Explorer. Throw in the turbocharged 1.6 liter 181-horsepower engine from the S version and you've got a pocket rocket capable of reaching 60 miles an hour in under eight seconds with a manual transmission.

    That kind of heavy-footed driving doesn't do much for fuel economy, of course. The Countryman is rated at 25 miles per gallon city/31 highway, well below the new 40 mpg bogey for similarly-sized cars. Over a couple of hundred miles of mostly highway driving, I could only manage 28 mpg.

    MINI fun comes at a price. My supercharged Light White test car carried an MSRP of $26,950. Throw in the garish red and black seat coverings, the sport package with in-your-face 18-inch alloy wheels the color of anthracite, and a few other geegaws and gimcracks, and you've run up the tab to $31,150.

    I will like MINI a lot better once it updates its cheesy instrument panel and eccentric ergonomics. The plastic is of the same gauge and quality used in cookie-box dividers. The switches come in great variety, and what they boast in originality, they lack in functionality.

    And I'd be remiss in not pointing out MINI's dismal record of reliability. In keeping with the fine tradition of British engineering and manufacturing, the MINI ranks at the very bottom of J.D. Power's three-year dependability rankings. It trails even that other paragon of English motoring, Land Rover, and represents a blemish on the reputation of its owner and operator BMW.

    If Kate and Will are looking for a cause once they get back from their honeymoon, they could take on an upgrade of those few automobile brands that are still assembled within the confines of their kingdom -- lest MINI defect to Germany.

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