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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know this has been a long discussed topic on this forum and I thought I would weigh in on this having owned a Mini Cooper Convertible for five years. I have only owned the Fiat 500 for two and a half weeks so these finding are based primarily on initial impressions of the Fiat 500. I still own and plan to keep the Mini Cooper in addition to my Fiat 500. I purchased my Fiat 500 primarily as a Winter car, as I've learned that my Mini Convertible isn't terribly well suited to Canadian winters.

I had posted some of this information in the thread I had made for the photos of my car but decided to create a more detailed comparison in it's own thread.

This is not intended to be a comparison between all Minis and all Fiats. These are solely based on my own findings as a car owner. I do not claim any advanced knowledge or insight of the auto industry, I would simply consider myself to be an enthusiast. This is a comparison between my own 2006 Mini Cooper Convertible and my own 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge model. Since I purchased my Mini, BMW has released a newer version of the convertible with a different chassis and engine. I can not speak for the changes to this model as I've never even driven one.

Features

Feature wise, both have features the other doesn't. Keep in mind here, the Fiat cost less than 2/3rd what the Mini did. The Mini has HID lights, ambient lighting, lights under the doors to show where you're stepping, headlight washers, integrated garage door openers, heated seats, light sensing headlights, and back up sensors. These things are standard on the convertible I bought.

The Fiat Lounge I purchased does also have a couple features standard that my Mini does not. Automatic Temperature Control being the most notable. Adjustable steering and suspension (Sport mode) is also a welcome edition. The Fiat Lounge also has Leather seats whereas the Mini has Leatherette standard. Leather and Automatic Temperature Control are available as options on the Mini.

Now a few of the things I mentioned on the Mini are available on the Fiat as options like the ambient lighting and heated seats. Unfortunately neither of those options were available to me in Canada as of yet.

Performance and Ride Quality

The Mini is a fair bit lower to the ground and the seating position is much lower. The Mini can corner a bit better than the Fiat and there's an increased awareness of the road with the Mini over the Fiat. This is partially due to the much stiffer steering, suspension, and even the clutch. (the clutch was the biggest thing for me to get used to on the Fiat. It's much lighter and easier to push on the Fiat.)

In Sport mode, the Fiat handles nearly as well as the Mini, but I would still give the edge to the Mini overall. They are known for their go kart like handling and they do live up to it.

The Mini has a bit more power overall than the Fiat but not as much more as I would have expected having 20% more horsepower. The Mini Cooper S however has tremendously more power than the Fiat.

Overall, I'd say the Fiat is easier to drive. The ride is less harsh, and the steering lighter. The Sport button brings the Fiat closer to the Mini in both regards, but is still softer overall.

Driving the Mini is kind of like driving the Fiat in sport mode full time. The Mini is definitely more of a drivers car. It's easier to feel the road.

That being said, the Fiat is the more comfortable overall. The Sport mode is nice because it makes the driving experience more similar to the Mini but when I want to relax I turn sport mode off and just drive.

Reliability

I can't really say much about the Fiat's reliability as I have only had it for a few weeks. As of yet, I have not experienced a single issue with it.

The Mini however, I have had a few issues with it over the years, many of which i feel shouldn't ever have been a problem on a BMW built vehicle.

The biggest issue I had was with a leak in the cooling system. This goes back to my statement about the convertible not being well suited for Canadian winters. Every winter, my cooling system would crack and leak causing me to need to fill up the antifreeze regularly (about once a week) until I could get it in to be fixed. This didn't happen the first winter I owned it, but did happen the following three. Fortunately I was still under warranty as this would have been a very expensive fix.

The Mini Cooper didn't come equipped with a block heater but still managed to start even in -40'c weather without issue. I suspect this was rather hard on the engine though and contributed to the leaks in the coolant system.

Other smaller issues with the car were things like the seat belts not retracting properly, especially in winter. Quite often I'd go to close the door and the sweat belt would be in the way as it had not retracted yet. This took four visits to the dealership (more than 100km away from where I live unfortunately) to be properly resolved. Another issue was the drivers seat heating elements burned a pattern right into the seat. Mini did replace the seat cover under warranty with no problems.

Value

It's hard for me to directly compare the value between the two as the Mini is a convertible but the Fiat is not. The Mini is definitely better equipped overall with a high level of attention to detail, but also cost quite a bit more as it is marketed more as a premium small car. My understanding is that the newer Mini convertibles have come down in price as the Canadian dollar has increased in value quite a bit since I purchased my Mini.

I would say that the Fiat is likely a better value over all. For the $22,000 that I paid for my Fiat it is very well equipped. The convertible version of the Fiat is also quite a bit cheaper than the Mini convertible, though I do prefer the more traditional style of convertible of the Mini than just the sliding roof of the Fiat Convertible.

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I'm by no means a professional vehicle reviewer and if I missed anything that anybody would like touched on, just let me know and I will do my best to cover it.
 

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I agree the FIAT is more comfortable and easier to drive -- a better experience overall. In case you missed it, I did a little comparison of standard features in U.S. models under the recent Price vs. Value post. One thing I missed was FIAT's standard reactive head restraints, which weren't available in my 08 MINI.
 

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The Fiat Lounge I purchased does also have a couple features standard that my Mini does not. Automatic Temperature Control being the most notable. Adjustable steering and suspension (Sport mode) is also a welcome edition. The Fiat Lounge also has Leather seats whereas the Mini has Leatherette standard. Leather and Automatic Temperature Control are available as options on the Mini.
I don't think the sport mode changes the suspension, does it? I love the seats on the Fiat though. I wish it was a little lower to the ground, but the 500 was the only small car that I've seen with leather seats even as an option.(except the Mini)
 

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I like the Mini Cooper and wanted to buy one.

I don't like going to the BMW dealer to get parts or possible service.

Hence I bought a FIAT.
 

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I bought a used Mini Cooper S and spent around 5000 dollars within the first year just on maintenance and replacing failed parts. So I sold it. I hated having to remove the entire front section of the car for doing ... any work under the hood.
 
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