MINI and Me
Pearl Mngomezulu’s MINI has become a partner for life that keeps her on her own path
Living in Joburg means driving in Joburg. Pearl Mngomezulu knows that from experience, but she’s made a virtue of it. She works as a marketing manager, and is no stranger to school runs, weekend visits to Soweto to visit her family, or work-related dashes out from Jozi to Sun City, where she is often involved with arranging events for her job. She’s in and out of her car all day, and that’s why choosing the right one was crucial. Pearl’s MINI has become an indispensible part of her life.
These days, it’s a jet-black Paceman, MINI’s sexy new sports activity coupé – and her fourth MINI in a row (Pearl swapped her Cooper S Hatch for her latest model). With its sporty new look and added luxury, the Paceman is the ultimate answer to her lifestyle, which involves not just city hopping, but precious quarterly road trips to Durban.
“I just saw this car and thought it was the most beautiful car ever. Love affair!”
Pearl’s journey with MINI began more than a decade ago with a mint-green standard Cooper. “I was trying to find something that fitted my style,” she recalls. “I wanted something young, vibey and cheeky, but not crass. Something that had some street cred.” And then she saw 2003’s remake of The Italian Job. “The movie convinced me that I needed one,” she says. “I just saw this car and thought it was the most beautiful car ever. Love affair!”
And so began a journey that has lasted more than a decade, and has moved through four different MINI models. “The car and I just fitted so well together,” she says. “There was no need to adjust; it just fitted in with my life.”
The MINI has always been a dream city car, and Pearl is a city girl. “I spend a lot of time in town,” she says, “at the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein and at Arts on Main in Maboneng. That’s my vibe. It’s my form of relaxation – and sometimes a bit of research. A chance to see who’s doing what.” Her MINI, she says, was made to function in the city. “The cheekiness and agility are great for the city. It just pops around corners, and it’s never a problem to get into a parking space.”
But her MINI has also provided space for relaxation and family bonding. Pearl’s hectic city life as a marketing manager is punctuated by quarterly trips to Durban. “It’s my favourite road trip,” she says. She does the whole journey without stopping. “This is the time I get to think and reflect,” she says. “To stop halfway down would break that.”
When it’s not time for reflection, travel time in her MINI has always represented bonding time. “I often go with my daughter and her friends,” she says. “There’s lots of sharing stories along the way, and loud music. City life doesn’t cater for that. On a road trip, you can just talk. There’s such positive energy. It refuels you.”
A few years ago Pearl spent a year and a half in Cape Town, and sent her MINI down on a train. “I used to do a lot of road trips in Cape Town up the West Coast and to Cape Point,” she says. “Lots with my daughter and me. It was a great time to connect.”
Her most recent choice was guided by the need for something slightly more mature. “I felt I had to grow up a bit,” she laughs. Despite her diminutive size, Pearl has found she likes the size and luxury of her Paceman. “The bigger boot is lovely to have when I travel,” she says.
But the important part of owning a MINI is that it never stops delivering on fun. “I always find it’s a pleasure to get in the car,” says Pearl. Whether it’s a road trip or a commute, “it’s still a fun drive”, she says – and a companion for life.