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Mini Cooper Classic. (BMW)
Mini Cooper Classic. (BMW)

Best of the Lot

Feeling blue over limited car colour choices? Add to ...

Hi, fellows: The other day an expensively produced flyer was in my paper for the new Audi A8. I thought gorgeous car; too bad about the colour choice of silver. Silver is so ennui, so ubiquitous, so 2004. Then I went online and discovered the range of exterior colour choices is astoundingly limited, regardless of the car company. Mazda3s are no longer available in fun yellow and some manufacturers don't have any green. Jeep has a decent green, but I am not presently looking for an SUV. So this leaves me with a choice of a burnt-orange Suzuki SX4, road-rally-blue Subaru Impreza and several Mini Cooper colours. What do I do? - Ian in Georgetown, Ont.

More related to this story

Subaru Impreza 2.5i hatchback

Cato: Ian, your love of bold colours makes you something of the Jackson Pollack of the automotive world. The problem is, this world is full of cautious buyers who think most about resale value. They want colours that do not offend more than anything else, worrying about what a car will be worth down the road.

Vaughan: Cato, the man is right. Colours count.

I wouldn't buy any car, no matter how good, if they only had rotten colours. What I'm really waiting for is the return of two-tone paint jobs.

Suzuki SX4

Cato: Like your socks. Seriously, Vaughan, you are dating yourself. Again. Two-tones went out with tail fins.

Vaughan: So what? If you look at some of the cars or the car ads from the 1950s and 1960s, you'll see perfect combinations of great colours. Or go back farther to the Delahayes of the 1930s. After looking at those, anyone would suffer ennui at the sight of all those silver boxes on the road today.

Cato: Well, snap out your ennui, Vaughan. Let's size up the three cars Ian mentioned. No comments on colours, though.

The Suzuki SX4 is a sleeper of a car, Ian. A nice little gem. I'd recommend the all-wheel-drive base model. It starts at $21,595 and that's a good price, though Suzuki has at least $500 in cash incentives to help seal the deal.

The base Subaru Impreza, standard with AWD and in hatchback form, lists for just $300 more ($21,695) but Subaru has at least a $1,000 sales sweetener to help ease your pain, Ian. This is arguably the safest of the three here, based on stringent crash testing by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

And then the Mini Cooper. The closest version price-wise is the Mini Cooper Classic at $22,800. Mechanically, this is the least sophisticated of your choices, Ian - no AWD, not as much power and so on. But stylistically, this car seems most attuned to your taste, Ian.

Vaughan: I think the burnt-orange looks great and has me leaning in favour of the Suzuki, but unfortunately that tiny little engine with the CVT would have me seeing red. It whines like a snowmobile.

Suzuki's got to do something about it because if they did they'd have a good little AWD car here.

Cato: Well, then, stick to the six-speed manual and save $1,100 by not getting the CVT option.

And the 150 horsepower four-banger here is not a world beater, but it's adequate for errand hopping. The Suzuki is pretty solid, too.

Vaughan: I second that, Cato, in terms of the engineering and the sturdiness. However, look at the thing.

The big long overhanging nose on it looks like a duck-billed platypus. I like Subaru's engineering department a lot, but I'd fire the designers. Even beautiful road-rally-blue paint can't get me past its boring appearance.

Cato: You are a crusty one, today, aren't you.

Vaughan: Design matters.

Cato: Then you'd agree with me about the Mini Cooper. For style-conscious Ian, this car is compelling.

Vaughan: Exactly. At last - two-tone paint jobs. You can get a Mini with a white roof or a black roof or I think even a Union Jack roof.

Now as for the interior of the car, I believe it is the ugliest on the road today. That big, stupid speedometer in the middle looks like a wall clock from the dollar store. And the tiny little buttons and toggle switches can only be worked with infant-sized fingers. But Minis are fun to drive.

Cato: The Mini's cabin is genius - interesting, creative and fun. You're so wrong here.

Ian, my favourite of the three is the Impreza, based on the sound engineering and superb AWD.

Vaughan: Perhaps, but not a design tour de force. Ian, remember you are what you drive and colours have meanings, according to the amateur psychologists.

Despite my reservations about the cabin, the Mini's two-tone paint seals the deal.

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

HOW THEY COMPARE



2010 Suzuki SX4 JX AWD hatchback

2010 Subaru Impreza 2.5i hatchback

2010 Mini Cooper Classic

Wheelbase (mm)

2,500

2,620

2,467

Length (mm)

4,135

4,415

3,699

Width (mm)

1,755

1,740

1,683

Height (mm)

1,605

1,475

1,407

Engine

2.0-litre four-cylinder

2.5-litre four-cylinder

1.6-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

150 hp/140 lb-ft

170 hp/170 lb-ft

118 hp/114 lb-ft

Drive system

AWD

AWD

FWD

Transmission

Six-speed manual

Five-speed manual

Six-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1,316

1,390

1,165

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.3 city/6.6 highway

10.6 city/7.5 highway

7.1 city/5.3 highway

Base price

$21,595

$21,895

$22,800

Source: Car manufacturers

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