If you've read ANY car website or blog in the last few weeks you've no doubt seen Mini's "challenge" to Porsche to race them at Road America. The idea was the race a Porsche 911 Carrera S against a Mini Cooper S and see who wins. It really came off as just a light-hearted, let's have some fun kind of challenge. The President of Mini USA (Jim McDowell) was directly challenging the CEO of Porsche USA (Detlev von Platen).
At this point, your gut instinct should kick and be like: "LOL! A Mini can't beat a Porsche!"
Ya, well, you're probably right. More on that in a minute. Thing is... our buddy Jim never said the Mini would win. He said... "There's one thing that I don't know about Porsche... can a Mini beat a Porsche in a race? I think we should find out."
At this point you should also be thinking "there's no way they're going to have the balls to do a straight up race at the Road America race track. They'd get smoked!" And again, you're probably right. But you should also then think... "Hmm, this could be interesting." And indeed it could. Surely there's no way a little Mini could ever trounce the incredible 911! It would have to be rigged!
Welll... it sort of was - but not really. See, the race wasn't destined to be on the actual race course at Road America - instead, a smaller infield course (basically a dedicated autox track) that Mini had prepared to use. Sad part is though, Porsche had declined! They wouldn't do it! Conveniently, Hyundai saw an opportunity and offered it's own challenge to Mini... they'd take Porsche's spot with the Genesis Coupe (this has not happened yet)!
You have to wonder why Porsche would even refuse... I mean, surely they wouldn't be afraid of the little Mini beating their Porsche? What an embarrassment that would be. And for Mini... even if they lost, they could just say "well, it's an $80k car, ours is $20k... take your pick." Either way both companies get a ton of press out of it.
Well the time came and there was no Hyundai and no Porsche USA... but Mini did bring their own Porsche and the race was on.
The Mini lost.
It was kind of sad - but pretty much everyone knew it was coming. This is where I get confused... on a lot of the blogs people were just bashing Mini for such a stupid challenge (though in the previous stories there was nothing but praise for such a fun and interesting challenge - ironic). I say more power to them. They got what they wanted out of it no matter the outcome - they got a TON of press that shows they like to have fun and no, they can't stick it to a Porsche, but who cares?
You don't cross shop a Porsche and a Mini - ever. And that is likely part of the reason Porsche was chosen... the outcome wouldn't matter! But it seems that a large portion of the internet thinks otherwise as apparently many people have "lost respect" for Mini after this whole thing... why? I think this all boils to one thought I have...
If something like this negatively affects your opinion of Mini THAT MUCH, then you didn't have a very high opinion of them to begin with and might as well keep your trap shut.