Archive for June 2011

MF Review: Fiat 500 Sport

MotoringFile Sections: MINI Competitors, Reviews Jun 30th, 2011 51 Comments

Let’s get this out of the way up front. The Fiat 500 Sport does not compare favorably to the MINI Cooper in ways an enthusiast would appreciate. The steering is light and the clutch lighter. The manual transmission is vague at best and any propulsion out of the highly acclaimed 101 hp Multi-air Fiat 1.4L four cylinder feels like a happy coincidence. Within a half block behind the wheel of the 500 I was in ‘leisure’ mode whether I liked it or not. Yet it didn’t take long to really come to appreciate the meandering quality of the performance and the confident (and unfortunately cheap) ambiance of the Italian style inside and out.

But let’s not lose focus on what this car is. Clearly Fiat isn’t trying to out-do the MINI in terms of driving dynamics. Instead it’s focused on bringing costs down to deliver a stylish small car at an affordable price. Case in point the Fiat 500 Sport we tested came to $19,500 with Rosso Brilliante exterior paint, sunroof and the safety and convenience package. It’s a pretty impressive value proposition when you consider a standard Cooper with no options in the US can’t be had under $20k these days. And the Fiat 500 Sport comes with eight airbags, a better than good Bose Stereo and the cutest little red painted brake calipers I’ve ever seen. continued →

Spied: MINI Roadster JCW

MotoringFile Sections: R59 (Roadster) Jun 30th, 2011 23 Comments

Hot on the heels of the Coupe debut, here we have a pre-production prototype of the MINI Roadster getting spied by WorldCarFans in Germany. No big surprises here, just a nice glimpse of the car-to-be. Having now seen the Coupe and how closely it kept to its concept car roots, we expect the production R59 to be pleasantly unsurprising. Head on over to WCF for their full gallery of spy shots.

MINI Inspired by Goodwood Goes on Sale in the UK for £41,000

MotoringFile Sections: Official News, R56 (Hatch), Rolls Royce Special Edition Jun 30th, 2011 14 Comments

Editors note. MINI is insisting that ‘Inspired by Goodwood’ be in all caps. We think it’s plainly ridiculous looking at won’t be following that custom here on MF.

As MINI Inspired by Goodwood makes its European debut this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, MINI announces UK pricing for the stunning car which blends Rolls Royce luxury with the unmistakble MINI driving experience.

From 30th June 2011 customers will be able to place their order for one of just 1,000 MINI Inspired by Goodwood models priced at £41,000. The first of these unique cars will be delivered in March 2012. continued →

White Roof Radio #383

MotoringFile Sections: Podcast Jun 30th, 2011 3 Comments

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Download |29.1MB | 1:03:42 |WRR @ iTunes

Apologies for the delay in getting this posted. That said, let’s move on.

We swapped Chad for Gabe tonight which is always a treat, as long as he isn’t trying to steal the show from me. But, even more Coupe talk, quite a bit more Fiat 500 talk and I even let some Bimmer talk in. And, some Top Gear talk. continued →

Winding Road: MINI Cooper vs Fiat 500

MotoringFile Sections: In the Press, MINI Competitors Jun 29th, 2011 9 Comments

The MINI gets compared to a lot of other cars, both here and in Europe. The comparison de jour for the Cooper is the newly stateside Fiat 500. The MotoringFile review of the Fiat 500 goes live in a few hours. In the meantime, we wanted to share this fantastic comparison from Winding Road. Unlike many surface-level, mostly sensationalized comparisons we’ve read in the past few months, Seyth Miersma does a great job of comparing the two cars objectively, on their actual merits. I like the conclusion, because for once it’s not about one car “beating” the other.

Drive both, buy one, be completely satisfied, no matter which you chose; that’s the prescription here. We can’t wait to see if the upcoming Abarth version of the Fiat 500 has got what it takes to finally top the Mini, in Cooper S form, too. Here’s to the delicious pain of waiting, and some great small car driving in the meantime.

The full article is definitely worth a read.

KISS Countryman Auction Raises $129,000 for UNICEF

MotoringFile Sections: In the Press, Official News, R60 (Countryman) Jun 29th, 2011 2 Comments

Personally, I’m a big fan of creative philanthropy. Being charitable and generous is awesome, but doing so in an interesting way is even better. A great example is the recent partnership between MINI and the iconic band KISS. MINI created four unique, KISS-themed Countryman S four doors, each custom painted to match one of the KISS band members. The cars were then auctioned on eBay to benefit UNICEF. The grand total came to $129,000 raised for Japan relief and global initiatives caring for children in need. At an average of just $32,250 each, that’s not far above MSRP depending on final spec. A modest premium for a good cause and unique MINIs. Kudos to all involved and congrats to the auction winners. Full info after the break. continued →

From the Vault: R53 MCS vs R56 MCS

MotoringFile Sections: MF Vault, R53 (Coupe), R56 (Hatch), Reviews Jun 29th, 2011 31 Comments

Today we start a new feature at MF called the MF Vault. The idea is to bring back some of our favorite reviews over the years and present them to a new (and larger) audience at MF. So we start with one of our most popular reviews over the past eight years. The R53 vs the R56 has been a debate since the first R56 test mules began showing up in 2005. But until this review we hadn’t had a chance drive two well sorted version of each car back to back. And while a lot has happened in the R56 development over the years (not to mention the aftermarket) we believe the review still holds up well.

So let us set the stage. On one side we have a lightly specced and well modded 2006 MCS. On the other we have a loaded 2007 MCS with the JCW suspension, engine kit and aerokit. Both have identical wheels and tires and of course the gorgeous Astro Black. So enough of the set-up. Let’s step back into the fall of 2007…

(Originally posted November 28th 2007) We’ve done several R53/R56 comparisons over the past year but one thing we’ve never done is tested two (almost) identically equipped MINIs back to back. Along with that, we’ve never had the right opportunity to equally assess both cars over the right roads and in the right conditions. And while MotoringFile has been the host of multiple articles comparing the two cars, I always felt they missed a little something without back to back drives. This comparison was to be different. We’d be focusing on driving the cars rather than talking about styling, price and all the other hotly contested debates that we’ve hosted on these pages previously.

So the plan was hatched; we’d drive from Chicago to Kalamazoo Michigan with a detour to the Indiana Lakefront. Here we’d find some of the best (and largely unknown) roads in the entire region. Once back on the highway we’d finish with a two hour blast up I94 to Bell’s Brewery, home of one of the most celebrated micro-brewed beers in the US. Along with the two MINIs being tested would be another R53 (’03 vintage) and a chase car in the form of a Porsche 911 Turbo (996). continued →

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