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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
seeing this forum has tons of people and some being new buyers, this is one of those articles that will help you decide if the Fiat 500 is really for you.

performance aside, I like the Fiat 500 more than the Mini Cooper, but Inside Line places the Mini Cooper ahead of the 500!

What are your thoughts on the comparison test?




2012 Fiat 500 vs. 2011 Mini Cooper Comparison Test Video



For pictures, specifications and performance go to this link... http://www.insideline.com/mini/coop...cooper-comparison-test-and-video-gallery.html

Speed Read

1st Place: 2011 Mini Cooper
Can't take a base Mini Cooper seriously? That 70-mph slalom speed says you should. If you want a sub-$25K car that can corner, you can't do much better than this Mini.

2nd Place: 2012 Fiat 500
The Cinquecento is smack in the middle of its 15 minutes of fame. But its drivetrain and chassis are tuned for a trip to the ice cream parlor, not a hard run on a mountain road.



We're not sure how we ended up on Mulholland Highway with the 2012 Fiat 500, but the little red hatchback is taking the abuse well. We chuck it into corner after corner, and it always takes a set (eventually) and then gathers itself up for the next challenge. As economy cars go, this Rosso Cinquecento is a gamer.

So is the 2011 Mini Cooper. There's no turbocharger or optional sport suspension on this base Cooper hardtop, but it doesn't matter. The Mini reacts to steering inputs like a good hitter who gets a fastball down the middle of the plate: It turns on them immediately and delivers us to the apex quicker than we expected.


Maybe we're missing the point of the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper, hammering on them like this. These are already hip cars. They don't get more hip when you put a sweaty Inside Line editor in the cockpit.

Eventually, though, the puppy-dog cuteness will wear off, and you'll want to be left with a hatchback you actually like driving — rather than a tiresome pet car you wish you'd never brought home.

Apple vs. Smaller, Cheaper Apple

The Mini Cooper's 15 minutes of fame ended years ago. But this car has lasting appeal. It's as big a cultural icon as the Snuggles fabric softener bear, and every time we get behind the wheel of one, the car's sharp responses suck us right back in like it's 2002.

Of course, buying a Mini isn't as cheap as it used to be. Our Cooper hatchback starts at $20,100, and optioning it with essentials like the Value package (which provides Bluetooth and an iPod adapter), Sport package (16-inch wheels and sport seats), xenon headlights and a center armrest pushes it past $23K.

Additionally, this 2011 Cooper was built during a promotional period when Mini threw in the Cold Weather group (ordinarily $675) for free if you bought the Value package. Tack on our test car's Mini Yours tats/bathtub appliqués ($250) and you land at $23,600 — just shy of the Cooper S hardtop's $23,700 base price. Prices increase $100 for the 2012 model year, but otherwise the Mini is unchanged.

Meanwhile, the 2012 Fiat 500 is the hatchback of the hour in the United States. Nobody who stops to talk about the car asks us how fast it is or how it handles. They just want to sit in the little Italian car with the vintage design.

It certainly doesn't hurt that the base price on our long-term 500 Sport model is just $18,000, and it comes standard with 16-inch wheels, Bluetooth and a USB input to boot. With the addition of a sunroof, satellite radio and an alarm that makes a loud noise if anyone tries to appropriate your Fiat, the total is $19,200.

Mind you, you're buying considerably less car. The Fiat is 7 inches shorter than the Mini nose to tail and more than 2 inches slimmer across the shoulders. It rides on a 6.5-inch shorter wheelbase and a 2-inch narrower track (2.8 inches narrower in back). Fiat's kid has a pointed head, though — it's 4.4 inches taller than the flat-top Cooper.

Slow Is All in Your Head

A good day in the 2012 Fiat 500 involves picking up our dry-cleaning, stopping off for a siphon-brewed coffee and treating ourselves to overpriced organic berries — you know, living it up without leaving the city limits. The 500's 101-horsepower, 1.4-liter iron-block inline four-cylinder engine moves it along nicely at a 30-mph pace, and we enjoy working through the five-speed manual transmission's long but precise throws from the barstool seating position.

Start making bigger demands on the Fiat and it quickly turns into a slow car. Low-end grunt is nonexistent, as the car's 98 pound-feet of torque doesn't come together until 4,000 rpm. However, this is easily the smoothest 1.4-liter engine you've ever met, and if you rev it a little (OK, a lot) and stir the gears frequently, commuting is a piece of cake. That is, until a cake delivery truck cuts you off and kills your momentum.

Meanwhile, the 2011 Mini Cooper almost never feels slow. Its 121-hp, 1.6-liter all-aluminum engine is a touch noisy putting along at low rpm, but its snappy responses to throttle input make that easy to ignore. The 1.6-liter is only rated at 114 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm, but it feels like more than that. Of course we'd rather be in the turbocharged and direct-injected Cooper S when climbing grades, but we sure don't miss that car's torque steer.

Except at the Track

Shifting the six-speed manual gearbox driving the Mini Cooper's front wheels is more fun, too, because the throws are shorter and the lower, more natural driving position sets you up well for heel-and-toe downshifting. Mind you, we're not downshifting that much in the Fiat 500, because on Mulholland, its wide gear spacing gives you a choice of running in 2nd gear at a manic 5,500 rpm or 3rd at a gutless 3,000 rpm.

Said gearing, combined with a rev limiter that's different for every gear, plus a general lack of power, contribute to the 500's sluggish performance at our test track. It's not that much slower than a Mazda 2, but the Cooper is 1.5 seconds quicker to 60 mph at 8.9 seconds and maintains a 0.9-second advantage by the quarter-mile — 16.6 seconds at 82.8 mph versus 17.5 seconds at 76.6 mph.

Matters of Size and Class

On its own, the 2012 Fiat 500 provides a decent ride quality, with more composure than you'd expect from a car with such a short wheelbase. But then you take a spin in the 2011 Mini Cooper and realize that the Fiat hopped over stretches of freeway that don't phase the Mini (although, even with a lid, your latte will splash when the Mini's run-flat tires hit rain grooves). You notice, too, that weight and cost considerations haven't allowed Fiat to seal the 500's cabin as tightly, so wind and road noise are more prominent.

Mini also put bigger brakes on the Cooper, which weighs 113 pounds more, and it stops shorter — 116 feet versus 125 (although we tested a 2012 500 that stopped in 115. Both cars have pleasantly firm middle pedals, but the 500's nose dips quite a bit when you're on the brakes hard. Fade isn't a problem on back roads, but with so little horsepower on tap, we're probably not going as fast as we think.

It turns out the Mini Cooper can carry an awful lot of speed through turns, though. Our test car doesn't have the optional sport suspension, but the standard suspension calibration and 195/55R16 Goodyear Excellence summer tires are good enough to get it through the slalom at 70.4 mph. That's Mitsubishi Evo territory — quite a feat for a humble front-drive hatchback. The Mini's steering is quick and, unusual for an electric-assisted rack, it's loaded with feedback.

Small Fry

The Fiat's narrow build works to its advantage through the slalom and on narrow back roads. But in spite of its crisp turn-in response, the 500 can't react as quickly because its softer setup results in a lot of body roll. It's a calculated compromise made in the name of ride comfort, and we expect Fiat to go with a more aggressive state of tune on the 500 Abarth model. Steering feel is good for this class, but it's not as lively on-center as the Mini's.

Still, the 2012 Fiat 500's 66.7-mph slalom speed commands respect, particularly on a car with nondefeat stability control (and an earlier 500 hit 68.4 mph). Among subcompacts, this car is second only to the Mini through the cones. Ability levels are more evenly matched on the skid pad, as the Fiat manages 0.83g to the Mini's 0.87g — not bad considering its 195/45R16 ContiProContact tires are all-seasons.

I *Might* Have Overstyled the Cabin

Just like you wouldn't see The Smurfs if you were in a deadly serious mood, you shouldn't consider buying a 2012 Fiat 500 or 2011 Mini Cooper unless you're willing to indulge their designers' enthusiasm for adorable retro styling motifs.

The 500 Sport model has the most sedate interior of the Cinquecento family, as its body-matched Rosso color inlays are matched with a black dash and steering wheel (whereas in Pop and Lounge models, the wheel can be a sassy ivory, Avorio). Meanwhile, this non-accessorized Mini Cooper is a gray and black ensemble cheered by whimsical shapes and color-changeable ambient lighting.

The Fiat's digital trip computer is nested inside an analog tachometer, which is nested inside an analog speedometer. It's an overwhelming clump of numbers, but unlike the Mini's real-estate-intensive pie-plate speedometer, it's all mounted in front of the driver's face. So take your pick.

Neither of these cars is an example of how to lay out controls in ergonomic fashion, but the Fiat wins this category by default, because we're tired of Mini's tiny audio head unit with buttons the size of a No. 2 pencil eraser. Also, we're sick of hearing Mini newbies complain about the toggle-style window switches.

However, all the Cooper's infuriating buttons and switches feel solid, whereas many of the items in the Fiat feel like they might break (and in our experience, have broken). Both cars have nice cloth upholstery, but the Mini's hard plastic panels (inevitable in this price range) are better quality than the Fiat's and they're fitted with more care.

Rear-seat accommodations are oddly a wash. The optional sunroof creates a severe headroom shortage in the Fiat 500, but it actually has more usable rear legroom than the Mini Cooper, both on paper (there's an additional 1.8 inches) and in the real world. Similarly, Fiat managed to carve out more room for groceries behind the rear seat. And despite its narrower body, the 500 actually has more published capacity when you fold down the rear seats — 30 cubic feet to the Cooper's 24. When it's time to actually use that space, though, the Mini's wider cavity gives you more options for loading ungainly items.

Mini Wins Because We're Heartless
It's easy to look at 2012 Fiat 500 and 2011 Mini Cooper and think the Fiat never had a chance in this comparison test.

But if you're living in the real world where monthly payments matter, the Fiat could make sense. For one, it's more than $4,000 cheaper when comparably equipped. For another, it has slightly higher fuel economy ratings (30 city/38 highway mpg versus 29/37), and it returned slightly better mileage during our testing (29 vs. 27). Finally, driven in the right conditions (the city), it can be a fun car, particularly if you're using it as a support vehicle for something faster and less practical.

If you can only afford to own one car, though, it has to be the Mini Cooper. This is the only semi-budget-priced subcompact that offers remotely adequate acceleration. And did we mention it goes through the slalom at 70.4 mph, which is as fast as an M3 sedan?

Up until this test, we weren't interested in anything below a Cooper S. Now we realize the base Mini Cooper is indeed a hot hatch — less the hot engine.
 

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And you guys thought Jlo was bad. This monotone, mannish talking head was obviously programed to say "pretty good" multiple times when referring to the 500 and "better" when caressing the MINI. Okay, push the cars to their limit (as everyone does daily, of course), have your predetermined favorite eke out its competitor, and declare a winner. Give me a break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
And you guys thought Jlo was bad. This monotone, mannish talking head was obviously programed to say "pretty good" multiple times when referring to the 500 and "better" when caressing the MINI. Okay, push the cars to their limit (as everyone does daily, of course), have your predetermined favorite eke out its competitor, and declare a winner. Give me a break.
hahaha

I really do wonder about some of these reviews sometimes.

It's hard to really agree with them or to even take some of them seriously, reason why I post any Fiat 500 review I can since some really do compare vehicle to vehicle while others make it seem as if they are comparing when really they pick their favorite as the winner rather than comparing real facts and numbers.

Fiat may be "new" to the game but I sure think Fiat has a major start.

Funny enough Fiat 500 sales are dominating Mini Cooper sales.

Not sure about you guys but sales stats say a lot for the success of a vehicle! This review on the other hand...some things I can agree with, the rest i'll agree to disagree.
 

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Fun for an afternoon? Yeah... they picked the winner before the review. Personally, I'm tired of minis. I test drove one. It was ok, but I had more fun in the Fiat. And that nonsense about keeping it in the city? I didn't even read it all, 'cus I knew it was tripe.

I'm not about to claim the Fiat is all around better. If you're hitting the track all the time, then your money is well spent on a Mini instead of a Fiat 500. Then again, maybe your money is better spent on an Abarth. hehe :)
 

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.

Funny enough Fiat 500 sales are dominating Mini Cooper sales.

Not sure about you guys but sales stats say a lot for the success of a vehicle! This review on the other hand...some things I can agree with, the rest i'll agree to disagree.
are you talking worldwide, because fiat is not outselling mini in the usa.
 

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I wonder if Inside Line will reimburse for a melted flywheel, burnt clutch and kaput tranny? All common complaints from Mini owners.
BMW says none of them know how to drive manual trannys and the ones with automatics abuse their trannys.

Talk about horror stories...no wonder Mini is ranked near the bottom in reliability and customer satisfaction.

I came so close to buying a convertible Mini until I did my research and found so many unhappy owners and countless problems.
 

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A few things need to be pointed out. A 70-mph slalom (MINI) vs. 67 to 68-mph (500) is so close that under the right conditions either car could take top honors -- factor in tire differences and weather and the tests are worthless. The Porsche Boxster has a 68 to 69-mph R&T slalom speed. Secondly, all published 0-60 times I've seen put the 500 squarely under 10 sec. (9.2 to 9.7). At 8.9 sec. the MINI's 0-60 is not that much better; furthermore, 1/4-mi. time difference is under 1 sec. Thirdly, braking distance is admiittedly the same -- again, factor in tire differences and weather and the tests are useless.

As an engineer I find the skid pad test most interesting. My previous research discovered that -- as far as I can determine -- no car with comparable or higher seating height than the FIAT 500 (and correspondingly improved visibility) has better handling by any meaningful margin EXCEPT for the BMW X5. From a safely and fun-to-drive standpoint this is quite remarkable.

Finally, since when do we buy cars on the basis of price per cu.ft.? The reviewer stated that buying the FIAT 500 means "buying considerably less car" because it's 2" narrower and 7" shorter, but they failed to mention the 500 is 3 cu.ft. bigger inside and more handsome all over :-}.
 

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A couple of things. The 2013 500 has slightly different gearing then the 2012 500. My understanding is that the lower gears have been changed for better pickup while upper gears have changed to get that 40 MPG on the highway. I drove a 2013 Sport at 5000 Ft above sea level. I did not find the power lagging in traffic. It is true that the 500 does have a better ride than the Mini. Consequently it is not a surprise it would give up some handling prowess. However in the comparison test the Mini had "summer" tires where the 500 had "allseason" tires. Had they ridden on the same set of tires it's possible that the handling might have been a bit closer. Now of course Fiat has the 500 Turbo. It's base price is still less then the Mini. It's HP is 135 to Mini's 121. It's torque is 150 to Mini's 118 LBS. Now that might be an interesting drag race. Further the 500 Turbo has some front end suspension bits that the regular Sport does not have. Wouldn't it be a fairer test to pit the Sport Turbo against the Mini Cooper?
 

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One thing in the review is flat out wrong: the run flats on the Mini are flat out LOUD. My Sport is far quieter than my S Clubman was by a long shot.

Going from 172 bhp to 101, one would think that I would be finding myself in the "penalty box." In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Seeing that I went from an S to the Sport, the review does have me scratching my head how the base Cooper could possibly beat the 500.
 

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I think it was a bit biased from the get go. If they were to compare price points rather than base models, they would have compared to the Abarth at that time. Now, the 500T maybe. I just purchased the 500T which would have done much better against the Mini.
 

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Yeah ~ the most fair comparison between the Italian & German small cars are 500T & 500 Abarth/Abarth Cabrio versus Cooper S & Coupe/Roadster.

I don't mind them comparing 500 Pop/500c/500 Lounge to MINI Cooper, though. For me, FIAT still comes out on top.
 

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My five speed pop fits me perfectly. It makes no difference to me what a reviewer has to say. I drove my friends six speed Mini-S from San Mateo to Santa Cruz, which entailed a road known for it's extreme challenges ( HWY 17), and it was a blast to drive. It cornered and accelerated like a dream, and I really pushed it, but I do not drive like that, and I know it. I drive like a 500 wants to drive. That is all that matters.
 

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The question is which car would one rather live with over the period of few years. Mini's developed quite a reputation for problems that start soon and without end in sight. Mini online forums and various long term reviews attest to that. Granted, Fiat hasn't been around in US as long as Mini, but few long termers on this forum and 5+ year history in Europe don't show anything major for 500.

Oh, and when i'm finally sick of driving my Fiat fast around curves, i can hop on the highway and enjoy nice and comfy ride back home, whereas in Mini, that hard ride just never stops.
 

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Frankly anyone dumb enough to pay almost $40k for a Clubman can keep it....that's pretty much all I have to say.

Mini's are like Apple products...and the clientele are the same idiots that also buy Apple products.
 

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I wouldn't lump them together. Reason I have only had iMacs since 90s is I work in IT and last thing I want when I get home is more work. My current iMac is 6 years old and spent all those years without any issues (no antivirus installed either).

By I digress.... Fiat is an amazing value, a great car, and so far the issues I've had we're negligible.


Sent from my iPhone using AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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I wouldn't lump them together. Reason I have only had iMacs since 90s is I work in IT and last thing I want when I get home is more work. My current iMac is 6 years old and spent all those years without any issues (no antivirus installed either).

By I digress.... Fiat is an amazing value, a great car, and so far the issues I've had we're negligible.


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Hehe..yeah Apple vs PC is another debate but I frankly think Apple's have little to no virus issues because for the most part they are off the radar to most hackers...not because they are harder to hack. But I also digress.

That said, I'm developing an annoying buzzing from the driver's side door panel near the pocket.
 

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Frankly anyone dumb enough to pay almost $40k for a Clubman can keep it....that's pretty much all I have to say.

Mini's are like Apple products...and the clientele are the same idiots that also buy Apple products.
Not sure where you get 40K for a Clubman from- that is limited edition Mini GP territory. My Clubman S was $26K new in 2009. Bought it earlier this year for $17,900, drove it for 10K miles and traded it with 31,400 miles for $16,400. An expensive lesson, but not as expensive as keeping it. Not by a long shot.

Also, Minis are not like Apple products. We are an Apple family, Mac Mini, MacBooks and iPods. Apple stuff just works and makes sense. Mini cars? Not so much,
 

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I don't remember anything said about the matter of the uncomfortable seating position in the mini vs 500 or the discomfort for 6foot+ height people in the mini vs the 6'5" COMFORT for our 500s. I'm only 6 foot tall and the mini is too close of quarters where my 500 sport is huge inside and very comfortable.
 
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