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75 Reasons to Buy a Fiat 500 over a MINI?

Esteemed President of the Fiat Lancia Unlimited car club (FLUCC for short) John Montgomery has come up with a list of 75 reasons why to buy a Fiat 500 over a MINI. We would love to share them with you and get your take. Look for a follow-up post for your place to post your favorite 500 reasons why you should buy a MINI over a Fiat 500. And feel free to give your take on each of these in the comment section. A few (ie almost all) seem pretty incorrect.

Drum roll please….

  1. The Fiat 500 base price MSRP is $4600 less (-23%) than the base BMW Mini MSRP.
  2. The Fiat has a 5 star European NCAP rating for driver & passenger safety. Mini has a 4 star rating on driver & passenger safety. Mini has 5 stars for rollover protection only.
  3. The Fiat has better aerodynamic CD; Fiat: .35, base Mini: .37, Cooper S: .39
  4. The Fiat base weight is 352 pounds less than the Mini’s base weight.
  5. The Fiat’s maximum passenger/cargo capacity is 970 lbs., 154 lbs more than Mini’s 816 lbs.
  6. The Fiat’s 34.8 ft. turning radius is 3 foot tighter than the Mini’s 38 ft.
  7. The Fiat’s ground clearance is 4.1 inches; the Mini’s ground clearance is 5.5”.
  8. The Fiat has lower insurance rates than the Mini yet the same warranty; 4 years, 50K miles.
  9. The Fiat has 3 year 36K free maintenance, includes car rental and is transferable!
  10. The Fiat suspension sub frame is attached w/o rubber isolators that could fatigue or wear out.
  11. Fiat has a standard theft alarm, but it’s a $500 option on BMW Mini.
  12. Fiat parts prices compare lower in price than BMW Mini parts.

Exterior Comparison:

  1. Fiat has 14 exterior colors but only two are $500 extra. Mini: 7 of 10 colors are $500 extra!
  2. The Fiat is taller overall with more upright seating position for better road view than the Mini.
  3. Fog lights on Fiat Sport & Lounge are standard. Fog lights for base Mini cost $250.
  4. The Fiat Lounge has fixed glass sunroof standard. Mini has no such thing.
  5. The Fiat electric sunroof is an $850 option but the Mini sunroof option costs $1000.
  6. The Fiat has quieter DBA noise level at idle and at speed on the road.
  7. The Fiat has lower emissions than the Mini as well as lowest in class.
  8. The Fiat has Bi-Halogen Headlights with daytime running lights.

Interior Comparison:

  1. The Fiat has more space within the wheelbase devoted to passenger room.
  2. Fiat drivers fit up to the 90th percentile adult, up to 6’ 1” without bumping headliner.
  3. Fiat rear seat passengers cover a 70th percentile, up to 5’9 without bumping liner.
  4. The Fiat has more rear seat leg room, Fiat 32.2”, Mini has 29.9”
  5. The Fiat 500 has 6.5 cubic foot more trunk space than the Mini’s 5.7 cu. ft.
  6. The Fiat has a longer luggage floor w/ seats upright, even though it’s shorter outside.
  7. The Fiat 500 has a longer luggage floor with the seats folded down too!
  8. The Fiat holds 30 cu. ft. of cargo w/ seats folded down; the base Mini only 24 cu. ft.
  9. The Fiat’s front passenger seat in base model has a storage compartment. Mini does not.
  10. The Fiat has an outboard top seatback lever and in board lower lever for rear passenger egress.
  11. Centralized pod instrument bezel on the Fiat is directly in front of the driver, not on Mini.
  12. Fiat driver levers; switches & controls are much easier to reach than the BMW Mini.
  13. Fiat drivers do not need to turn their head to see the heater controls, only look down.
  14. The Fiat gear shifter is closer at hand than the Mini with a very short throw.
  15. The Fiat center armrest is standard; the Mini center armrest is a $250 option.
  16. Fiat offers heated seats & mirrors for less than Mini’s $750 cold weather combo package.
  17. The Fiat 500 has an HVAC system with micron air filter for the cabin, even on base models.
  18. The 500 offers “equivalent temperature” sensors, changing settings based on inside and outside conditions of temperature, humidity and airflow.
  19. Fiat drivers do not need to turn their head to see the heater controls, only look down.
  20. The Fiat includes an air compressor for tires as standard equipment.
  21. Tom-Tom docking feature on Fiat eliminates wires or plug-ins to cigar lighter.
  22. The Fiat offers superior “Blue & Me” interactive link w/ steering wheel controls & USB port.
  23. Fiat’s Blue & Me system is $400 option, but a similar system is a $1750 package on the Mini.
  24. The Fiat has “Eco-Drive”, a down load application to review driving habits.
  25. The Fiat BOSE 6 speaker Audio system requires 50% less energy & 30% smaller.
  26. The Fiat BOSE audio has amps under the front passenger seat, out of the way.

Performance Comparison:

  1. The Fiat manual gets better mileage; the Fiat 30/38 MPG vs. Mini’s 28/37 MPG.
  2. The Fiat does not require premium fuel. All Minis’ require at least 91 octane!
  3. The Fiat 500 has a better power to weight ratio than the Mini base 1.6 engines.
  4. The Fiat has patented Multi-Air valve technology, unavailable on the Mini.
  5. The Fiat Pop, Sport & Lounge all have a stainless steel exhaust system standard.
  6. The Fiat has hydraulic cam followers and never needs a valve adjustment.
  7. The Fiat 6 speed automatic is $1000 option; mates buying the Mini pay $1250.
  8. The Fiat automatic transmission has a one touch shifter + or -, the Mini does not.
  9. Fiat has a dashboard “Sport” switch to sharpen the steering and auto trans shift points.
  10. The Fiat has a 2 second “hill holder” that keeps manual car from rolling back.
  11. Fiat has traction control standard. It’s an option on base Mini for $250.
  12. The Fiat’s “HBA” hydraulic braking control compensates for pressure in panic stops and lowers actuation time for maximum braking force.
  13. Fiat braking “EBD” reads wheel speed data for faster brake response times.
  14. The Fiat “ESP” calculates wheel longitude and lateral grip, cutting in when wheel slip is beyond parameters by adjusting throttle input and opposite wheel brake bias.
  15. Fiat’s “ASR” reduces wheel slip at all speeds and adjusts torque for grip detected.

Safety Comparison:

  1. The Fiat has 7 airbags standard while Mini has only 6. Fiat includes driver’s knee airbag.
  2. The Fiat has double seatbelt pretensions to tighten in a crash event sequence. Mini has only single belt pre-tensioners. All 4 Fiat seats include 3 point belts and reactive head restraints.
  3. The Fiat has a lower forward vision angle of 8%, Fiat driver sits more upright.
  4. The Fiat’s narrower “A” pillars are of high tensile steel for safety w/ better visibility.
  5. The Fiat front & rear seats have anti submarine devices to prevent sliding under belts.
  6. The Fiat has breakaway foot pedals in high impact frontal crashes to protect feet.
  7. The Fiat has soft energy impact hood area in case the car ever strikes a pedestrian.
  8. Fiat’s “FPS” fire prevention switch cuts off valve & inertia switch stops the electric fuel pump in a crash. It even works in a rollover crash.
  9. The Fiat’s interior trim is flame resistant. Mini does not use flame retardants.
  10. Fiat’s doors automatically lock at 12 MPH+. Mini’s have no speed related device.

Heritage Comparison:

  1. Fiat since 1899 is an independent manufacturer. Mini was BMC, now owned by BMW.
  2. The original Fiat 500 appeared in 1957, the original Mini in 1959.
  3. The Fiat 500 is sold in 90 countries; the BMW Mini… considerably less.
  4. Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work daily. Enzo never drove a Mini. Ever.
Written By: Gabe

  • Hunter

    Is it just me or do some of these so-called unavailable features on the MINI do, in effect, exist as standard. My R53 locks the doors automatically, has a seat-back compartment on BOTH seats; the R56 has hill-start hold and sport buttons, etc.

  • Hunter

    and to TheDude, I AM gay and own a MINI, and neither one is related to the other.

  • Tyson Call

    Here is one reason to buy a MINI instead. Sorry Mr. Montgomery.

  • minipuma

    I haven’t read the whole list (as soon as I wipe the glaze from my eyes I’ll try to finish it), but seeing things like the Fiat’s smaller, weaker stereo system being touted as a positive because it “requires 50% less energy” (because it’s weaker), or touting the Fiat’s “Sport” button as an advantage over the MINI (obviously simply not true), makes the entire list look essentially dishonest to me.

  • JackMac

    MINI comes with run flats (roll eyes)

    Seriously, is it even necessary to respond to this dribble from the MINI-wannabe crowd? Don’t you recognize when you are being baited?

  • Tyson Call

    Here is one very good reason to buy a MINI instead.

    Here is the link that didn’t show up. http://youtu.be/lgd6VaM1HVA Apparently MF doesn’t allow embeds, even though it shows it working in the comment preview.

  • Hoover

    That’s a lot of info to go through. And some of it is dead wrong. My much simpler checklist: How does it look? Will I fit? How does it drive? Is it reliable? I assume that, as a modern car, it is going to be pretty safe.

  • jeff
    The Fiat has 3 year 36K free maintenance, includes car rental and is transferable!

    so does the MINI?

    Fog lights on Fiat Sport & Lounge are standard. Fog lights for base Mini cost $250.

    and not available on the 500’s base version (pop)

    The Fiat electric sunroof is an $850 option but the Mini sunroof option costs $1000.

    and is twice as big

    Centralized pod instrument bezel on the Fiat is directly in front of the driver, not on Mini.

    the same with the MINI. the big secondary speedometer is in the middle of the MINI

    Tom-Tom docking feature on Fiat eliminates wires or plug-ins to cigar lighter.

    isn’t the MINI’s garmin option the same?

    The Fiat 500 has an HVAC system with micron air filter for the cabin, even on base models. The Fiat Pop, Sport & Lounge all have a stainless steel exhaust system standard. The Fiat has a 2 second “hill holder” that keeps manual car from rolling back.

    so does the MINI.

    Fiat drivers do not need to turn their head to see the heater controls, only look down.

    and he used this one twice (#13 and 19)

  • minipuma

    Tyson, that video pretty much says it all. (And that guy is not even pushing the MINI particularly hard).

  • http://robert-apon.blogspot.com Robert

    What else is to be expected by a fan of Fiats? I’m sure any number of Motoringfile readers could come up with a list of 75 reasons to buy a MINI instead of a Fiat. Some of the items on the list are inaccurate. Some are splitting hairs or are dubious in actually being a benefit of one car over the other. What I do see when parsing the list is a price point that undercuts the MINI and can be a real way to establish the brand again in the USA.

    What gets me is that as a car enthusiast is the disdain I detect from some corners of the North American MINI community. I welcome an alternative to the MINI in the marketplace. If anything it reflects the nature and history of the two brands: Fiat was first to market originally, cheaper, and smaller displacement back in 1957 (two years before the Mini). The two brands have coexisted just fine. When it came to a product refresh in 2002 MINI was first thanks to BMW’s acquisition of the brand and MINI has dominated the segment (at least in the USA) where no real competition existed. I love MINI and I love Fiat. I look forward to seeing both in the market space carving their own niches and having a FRIENDLY rivalry as it is in Europe. No need to get our panties tied up in a bunch over one list by a Fiat enthusiast.

  • Brian

    So the power to weight ratio is better than the base cooper… ok so how about the S?

    Turning radius is 3 feet less, at what speed? I have not seen anything yet that corners like mine.

    Owned by BMW is a problem? Backed by BMW as well :-)

    I did not buy several Mini’s to be cheap. I bought them for the thrill.

    If you cannot afford Premium Gas, do not buy a premium car.

    ESP seems a lot like DSC which real drivers turn off.

    Been racing Mini’s since 2005 and when the Fiat comes out I would love to see it on the track and do a real comparison. Wish them luck and hope it is a great car but until I go for a test drive, looks like cheap crap.

  • Paul

    I’m gay if I don’t drive a MINI? I’m not a real driver if I don’t turn off DSC? Only rich people are allowed to own a MINI?

    And people ask me why I don’t wave to other MINIs anymore….

    Kudos to Robert, wish there was a like button for your thoughts.

  • Hoover

    @Robert: Well said. We need more cars like the MINI and the 500. Cool cars. Fun to drive. Efficient.

  • Hoover

    And don’t we all look forward to those drag races?

  • Hoover

    Not again…please…looks like Nathan and/or Gabe is on it.

  • Ollie T

    “The Fiat’s interior trim is flame resistant. Mini does not use flame retardants.”

    I must remember this when considering my next car, it could be a deal breaker….. Or is that only because Fiat’s have a habit of catching fire a lot, and MINIs don’t? Just a thought….

  • Taiyo

    The Neuvo 500 already has thrown “heritage ” bit in a italian bin!

    It’s no longer an RR unlike the original, in fact it’s just a Fiat Punto / Ford Ka in pretty guise. MINI has been engineered by the folk at former Rover facility, with backing from BMW who also happen to make cracking engines, and make bits of car not fall off, unlike Rover or Fiat. and MINI is built in Oxford, 500 comes from Poland.

    Good car though, that little 500. Just don’t compare it to a MINI. 500 is cheap and cheerful, when MINI is all about small and BLOODY GOOD FUN.

    I may have consider one when 500 has a 210+ bhp JCW beater ready. Until then, MINI all the way.

  • robble

    I saw errors in a LOT of those statements.

    I counted 42 statements that were either flat out wrong (most of the 42) or didn’t mean squat (such as entire heritage section)

  • robble

    I went to the original article and tried to post a comment.. surprise surprise… They will only be posted after approval of the guy running the website.

    I highly doubt mine will be approved even though it was “nicely” written and contained no bad language.

  • hemisedan

    And here’s another: The Fiat 500 has a whole bunch less horsepower and torque so that the car is safer? Also, the handling is much spongier on the Fiat, making it less apt to be thrown around a curve or corner. Eat those words Fiat. Also, I disaggree that the Fiat is less to insure than my Mini JCW.

  • Harry Dill

    Hell, in terms of de rigueur style, the C2V may put them both to shame. If you are willing to forget safety for the sake of unadulterated panache the “tin snail” has no peers!

    Seriously, on the SAS (Spinoza Aesthetic Scale), the MINI wins thumbs up. The hp:kg ratio certainly favors FIAT. It would be interesting to compare the Abarth version v. the JCW Cooper S.

    Hey, Enzo can’t be entirely off the mark despite family ties. He could have chosen to drive a Lancia instead. A tricked out Abarth could be quite impressive and catch on with U.S. enthusiasts. Time will tell.

  • jeff
    Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work daily. Enzo never drove a Mini. Ever.

    link name

  • Aurel

    The Fiat is taller overall with more upright seating position for better road view than the Mini.

    The Fiat gear shifter is closer at hand than the Mini with a very short throw.

    These are both true but the overall feeling they give you is that you are driving a minivan rather than a small compact. Drove one this week. Not a bad little car but should not be compared to the MINI. I think a Beetle comparison would be more fair and in their favor. But then again, the Beetle is not hot anymore.

  • Cliff

    The Fiat fan who wrote this obviously didn’t do his homework. Quite a few of those statement are wrong. Also, Enzo owned and drove a Mini as did Princess Grace, Peter Sellers, Steve McQueen (need I say more)…

  • JonPD

    Rather funny the venom laced comments over Fiat in the MINI world.

    They have called MINI out. I think MINIUSA should counter the list with facts from their point of view but of course keep the humor in it. This list is nothing more than to draw a parallel in a typical buyers mind between the two brands. A smaller, lighter, roomier city car, I really don’t see a lot to argue with here. The 500 is also iconic enough to capture some of those early MINI days. I fully expect to see a Fiat community that is very similar to the early days of ours. I also think MINI will continue to out sell the 500 bringing more non-enthusiast into the MINI brand while I expect Fiat to have 3 or 4 years of the vocal and enthusiastic owner base.

  • alpinamike

    Jeff, nice find, I knew enzo had driven a MINI. I think the brands were more together at that time, more family like.

    Fiat is working on opening many dealership where MINI has no presence. Of course using old closed up dodge and chevy dealerships.

  • Nikkos

    Oh yah Fiat?! Well I get White Roof Radio. What do you get, replays of Enzo’s favorite “Driving to Work” remix?

  • Nikkos

    They didn’t use Fiat 500’s in the Italian job either now did they.

  • http://www.fes-auto.com Dr Obnxs

    I beat the snot out of a FIAT Sport for a while. The car is just plain fun, and costs less. Yes, it’s not posing as a “Premium Compact” but the car seems to be a very good value for money. Those FIAT dismissers are just wrong to think that the car won’t be nipping on the heels of the lower end of the MINI spectrum. At the upper end of the MINI spectrum the FIAT really falls out of the competition. But it seems to be a very good car, is fun to drive and seems to deliver value at it’s price point. And this wasn’t just me… I spoke with 3 other MINI owners at the same event and they all thought positively about the FIAT. I hope I get to play with an ABARTH when they come out.

    As far as the pissing contest between MINI and FIAT fans… That whole thing I could do without. They are both fun cars, aimed at slightly different market segments that do have some overlap. But that’s OK too.

    But for MINI corporate, there are 15-20 items in the FIAT list that they should pay attention to.

    Matt

  • m8o

    RE: “The Fiat BOSE 6 speaker Audio system requires 50% less energy & 30% smaller.”

    Hahahaha … hahahahahaha …. hahaha

    and likely sounds 70% sukier! LoL!

  • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com Nathaniel Salzman

    I’m just surprised how insecure the whole thing comes across. Why can’t the Fiat 500 just be a cool little car entirely on its own merits? Neither Fiat nor MINI have to succeed on the other’s demise. The market’s a big place people, calm down.

  • lavardera
    Fiat’s doors automatically lock at 12 MPH+. Mini’s have no speed related device.

    That’s not even true. My Mini’s doors lock at 10mph. Its a setting that you can turn on and off however.

    Just makes me think the rest of the list has been poorly researched as well.

  • Jamesn

    Ahh but i have a photograph of Alec Issigonis personally delivering a MINI to Enzo Ferrari, and also recall hearing that he told Issigonis hed created the most cleverly packaged car in history! Henry Ford never drove a Mini, does that mean its rubbish?

  • miniYO

    I’m looking forward to the Fiat500 coming out. More crappy little cars mean my MINI looks just that much better……

  • Blackballed

    I love p@@@$$$ matches! Keep it coming. I test drove a 500 sport last week. SLOW but kinda fun and actually nice. Great looking little bugger.

    The Abarth essees sold in Europe has 190 HP. If they bring that here at 2300lbs the JCW is gonna have company. especially if it’s well under $30k as I’d suspect.

    There’s room in the world for both. And Scions and blah blah blah.

  • that.guy

    I have to say at least 10% of that list is actually very compelling. I think they could have narrowed it to 5 or 10 and really made an impact. As it is the impact of the big ones is just diluted by the overly long list.

    For buyers who are less performance-oriented and financially constrained, a 23% lower price is HUGE, as is 3 years free maintenance. And the higher crash ratings and additional airbag will matter to a lot of people. I see a large number of potential base Cooper buyers choosing this car over the MINI.

  • http://MotoringFile Nigel Fan

    Enzo did drive a Mini. See The Little Book of MINI p.57.

  • Taiyo

    I’m surprised some people take this really seriously.

    light hearted rivalry, pissing matches or what have you call it, can be fun. Keep’em coming. (That’s what made Ferrari’s and Lambo’s great, I suppose?)

    MINI owners should do 150 reasons compilation, of which 100 must be complete rubbish to keep it in line with the original Fiat fun boy list!

  • Axel

    Got to give it to FIAT trying their best to come on to MINI, but nah!! I wont trade min 02 MCS with 130k and 195 whp for nothing but I would love to to drive the Abarth 500 to see what we’re looking at!

  • goat

    Don’t kid yourselves everyone, as many of us (while still being huge MINI fans) have been saying, the Fiat 500 is more a MINI competitor than a New Beetle competitor like some would have you believe.

    The Fiat 500 has several very important things (from my driver-oriented perspective) that trump the MINI and will hopefully be taken seriously with the gen3 redesign: much lower weight, much tighter turning circle (the mini has a massive turning circle, a weak point of FWD in general but can be done better as Fiat has shown), no 4×4 ride height, innovative external size / internal room packaging design.

    But the Fiat has a couple of glaring items that are anti-driver too: a seat height as high as a kitchen chair with a phone book on it, and a torsion-beam rear suspension. :)

    But throw styling into the “decision matrix” (Fiat is far better resolved than the gen2 MINI, not surprising given it is also a Frank Stephenson design like the gen1 MINI), and a FAR lower price (in Canada, a well equipped Fiat 500 is nearly $5000 less than a no-options Cooper) and it is clear why lots of people – inclusive of some enthusiasts – will be picking a Fiat over a Cooper. When the essesse Abarth comes out you may also see the Cooper S and JCW models given a proper challenge.

  • Martin

    Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work daily. Enzo never drove a Mini. Ever. WRONG!!

    Mini designer Alec Issigonis and Mini tuning specialists ‘Downton’ built this specially tuned Mini Cooper for their friend Enzo Ferrari, shown below with the man himself in a couple of interesting old photos:- http://www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/classic-mini-talk/127755-enzo-ferrari-mini-pics.html

  • Martin

    Mini has its own unique chassis platform and factory in the UK. The Fiat 500 is built on the shared Fiat Panda/Ford KA chassis platform and running gear built in the same factory in Poland. It is not even built in Italy….

    ie. Its just a Fiat Panda in a party dress!

  • Dave

    I had the chance to drive a Fiat 500 at the Denver Auto Show. It is a neat little car and definitely has it’s place. The attractive part being that you can get into one for thousands less than a Mini. Although I feel it is less car overall in quality.

  • http://www.lilcoopr.com SidewaysEH!

    I would drive a Twingo Sport over the 500…nuff said

  • Pingback: 150 Reasons to Buy a MINI over the Fiat 500 | BMW SE()

  • Pingback: White Roof Radio #375 | BMW SE()

  • Mills212

    I bought the first Fiat 500 in Colorado. 11,000 Miles later I still can’t get enough. I love this car. I am 61 years old and have owned about as many cars. Fiat is toooo cool! I travel around Colorado hiking and this is the perfect car for 1 or 2 explorers. One added note, I have big time arthritus and my Fiat is sooo easy to get in and out of (I am 6’1″).

  • Kitano

    Not owned by BMW? They are owned by BMW right now aren’t they?

  • NoleMini

    1 reason to buy a MINI over a Fiat- the MINI is just more fun to drive. I have MINI #4 now and my DH has a Fiat. Both are fun, but mine is MORE fun and he agrees.


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