MINI Insider

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ROOM FOR INSPIRATION.

Bestselling author Mirna Funk loves a road trip – on her own, with a companion or a full car. Where the boundaries between city and countryside blur – that’s where her MINI Countryman comes into its own.

MINI Insider - Mirna Funk

Passing my driving test in summer 1999, shortly after my 18th birthday, was torture, and not just because the traffic in Berlin was hell. It was more my driving instructor, who preferred to stare at my legs than explain things properly. I ended up teaching myself everything: how to brake, how to shift gears, when to look over my shoulder. I was rewarded for my diligence on the day of my driving test. A car drew up beside me, the driver opened the window and said that he’d never seen anyone parallel-park so well. My examiner was silent. I nodded knowingly. Driving: it’s totally my thing. I bought my first car two years later. Since then, not a single day has passed where I haven’t sat happily behind the wheel. I never take the bus or train, never ever use a bike. Too crowded, too strenuous. In winter, I refuse to walk a step. I know – it’s not exactly something to be proud of in this day and age dominated by the climate crisis. But for me, driving is much more than just a convenient way of getting around. It’s a special lifestyle. Fast, but safe. Cocooned, but still right where the action is. Alone in the car or with company, driving gives me a great sense of freedom. Particularly if your car offers you as many options as the new MINI Countryman does. No matter where I happen to be or what situation I’m in.

 

 

 

 

Mirna Funk, 39, lives for inspiration and creativity. The German author likes to free her mind by getting behind the wheel of her MINI: To set off, open the windows and feel the freedom.

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ALL BY MYSELF.

I have loved and cried and screamed and listened to music way too loud in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been driving. How often have I jumped into my car, switched on my favourite playlist and simply set off? Without a destination and for hours on end. I wanted to get away from everything that was going wrong in my life, wanted to reconnect with my inner self. Often, I would stick my head out of the window and let the wind blow away all my idiotic ideas. I would stretch out my hand and push back against the pressure of the wind, against the world that was blowing and gust- ing and battering against me. Finally, I would stop. Firmly believing that I now had a firmer grip on life. Even the most mundane trip – an hour to the agency, an hour back home – gives me a fizzle of excitement. It starts the instant I let myself fall into the sports seat and the door of the MINI Countryman closes with a gentle, promising clunk. All of a sudden, the life that raged outside is sucked away. What remains is a vacuum of safety, comfort, protection and poetic silence. To this day, my best ideas come to me in the small, enclosed space of a car. The smartest sentences in my novels emerge fully formed when I’m sitting behind the wheel. Answers to questions suddenly pop up while I idle at the traffic lights. Like only recently, in San Francisco, as I was ploughing up the hills and down the steep slopes that cross this creative, imaginative, hippies quecity. My MINI Countryman is an oasis on wheels. Perhaps it has something to do with control. Very probably, in fact. When I start the engine and gently depress the accelerator, my life becomes controllable. In my MINI Countryman I have my hands on the steering wheel of life and I can determine the direction – without anyone interrupting me or attempting to slow me down.
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ON LONG JOURNEYS, WHEN TIME HAS NO LIMITS, THAT’S WHEN WE SENSE THE COMPLEXITY THAT WE HUMANS ARE MADE OF.

A DYNAMIC DUO.

In a car, two people fuse to become a unit. You can feel real intimacy in these moments. When I’m in the MINI with my best friend or partner, it’s like being under a large blanket. The air is warm and starts to vibrate. It’s almost impossible to say where I end and the other person begins. Two people in a car become one, whether you like it or not. Behind the wheel, you are there for the world to see – like at the Geneva Auto Salon. Between switching lanes and the irate honking of horns, driving shows you what other people are like: who has patience, who likes to show others their rear lights, and who’s a mass of nerves. Everyone reveals their true face behind the steering wheel. On trips along the Californian coast, on long drives down wide freeways where time has no limits, that’s when we sense the complexity that we humans are made of. I have confessed my worst experiences on drives in the MINI Countryman and raved about my best memories. I have played to my passengers the songs that are most important to me, even the cheesy pre-driver’s license pop hits. Though, admittedly, the Harman Kardon sound system does make them sound remarkably fresh. In the mobile vacuum, I can dare to do practically anything. At 60 miles an hour on the road to nowhere, there’s nobody looking, only you, my co-conspirator next to me. And while the world whizzes past our windows as we race into the future, we are perpetually moving back to the past inside the car, we travel two-fold through time – back as well as forwards. Where else can you experience this if not in a car?
Soft leather, stunning view: No other car is better suited to a road trip than the new MINI Countryman. The Californian coast and San Francisco Bay are fabulous places for an inspiring road trip.

ELECTRIFYING
COMBINATION.

The plug-in hybrid version is just as agile and fun to drive as the regular MINI Countryman. Thanks to a compact lithium-ion battery installed under the rear seats, the boot capacity is a generous 1275 litres. The improved battery technology, with a storage capacity of up to 10 kilowatt hours, increases the electric range up to 61 kilometers. And with 220 hp, the plug-in can more than master the rough and tumble, bringing even remote locations within range.
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ALL TOGETHER NOW.

The greatest driving experience, though, is in a group – with family, friends, with four or five people piled into the front and back seats for a joint mission, experience or outing. In moments like this the adventure starts before you even get in. It’s the planning, the phone calls, the chats in WhatsApp groups. About where and when to meet, how many bags everybody can take, who can drive, when would they like to and for how long. And once you’re in the car, you realise what a road trip like this is really about: it’s all about the sense of community, the “we”. Whether we’re heading to the seaside to relax, to the beach to surf or to the coast to hike – the destination doesn’t really matter at all. What matters is that we’re together. When each of us lets go, handing over the wheel or the satnav to someone else, and when we all pull together, sharing a common goal, then there’s simply no better trip. The route is long enough for everyone to take a turn in the driving seat, enjoy the curves of the coastal road, push out the stress of the week by kicking down on the accelerator. Everyone takes a turn at lounging on the back seat, gazing over the golden fields that stretch to the horizon and letting their thoughts wander. And when the sunshine pours through the Countryman’s panorama sun- roof, we arrive where we want to be much faster than expected. There, in a spot on the shimmering golden coast, is where we park our MINI. We lie on the ground, the salt on our skin, the sun warming the backs of our necks letting our legs dangle and our minds wander. Together. There is probably no greater inspiration for what is really important in life. So who’s going to put up the tent?

 

 

There’s more than enough space on the back seat of the MINI Countryman for family and friends. The spacious boot holds a tent, sleeping bags, folding chairs, a camping stove.

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THE NEW MINI COUNTRYMAN.

TAKE CHARGE OF THE ROAD.