With a small fleet of press vehicles out for review at the moment, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing more and more reviews of the Fiat 500 online. This one from the New York Times caught our attention because of their take on the inevitable MINI comparison. Read their excerpted summary after the jump.

The 500C is often compared to the similarly adorable Mini convertible. But the 500C, which is seven inches shorter than the Mini, feels softer. The steering is considerably less crisp, and the Fiat leans more in the corners than its BMW-owned competitor. But the Fiat is quieter over every type of road.

Over all, the Mini feels more like an economical sports car, whereas the 500C feels more like a sporty economy car.

In addition, compared with the low-slung driving position of the Mini, the Fiat 500C’s is noticeably loftier, like being perched on a sofa. Then again, Americans tend to enjoy sofas, which might explain Fiat’s decision to equip American-bound 500s with wider front seats than models sold in Europe.

It’s been our contention all along that the MINI and the Fiat 500 aren’t really in the same class. On both price and performance, there’s enough distance between the two cars that it’s only really their diminutive size and quirky aesthetics that lump them together. The common thread throughout these reviews (and our experience backs this up as well) is that once you drive both, you quickly realize how different the two cars really are. That’s not a bad thing, and hardly a knock against the 500. It isn’t even that the MINI is a better car, simply that it’s a very different car.

Special thanks to Aurel for sending this in.