"22 miles...now 19. Scratch that - down to 18." I ask my co-driver, Automobile's Eric Weiner, to repeat that last number and he does, a note of concern creeping into his normally relaxed voice, augmented by rivulets of sweat crisscrossing his brow. It's not the tension of the moment that's got the two of us soaking both our shirts and the front seats of the Mini John Cooper Works convertible we're riding in across the California desert. It's the fact that, with just a sniff of fuel left in the tank, we've got the air conditioning switched off and the windows rolled down in the 118-degree heat, sacrificing comfort in the name of please, please, please just let us make it to the fuel station that both the navigation system and my fuzzy memory of visits to 29 Palms past say should be just 10 miles away. And this sudden incline is killing us.