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Comparisons Reviews

The Battle of the “Boxes”: Mini Cooper vs Fiat 500


Mini Cooper

Engine: 1.6L
Horsepower: 121+
Fuel Economy: 27 City / 34 Hwy
MSRP: Starting at $20,450

Inside the 2015 Mini Cooper:

The Mini Cooper is back with yet another redesign for the 2015 model and a base package price starting at $20,450. With the 2015 model, Mini is again redefining the term small car with their increased interior specifications and 150% of the trunk space compared to last year. This model also has a new engine and chassis compared to last year to help handle more like a go-kart than a car. The Cooper line comes in several different trim options including the Cooper and Cooper S available in both automatic and manual along with the John Cooper Works edition with a 208 horsepower engine. The Cooper comes in a 2- or 4- door option. With those additional 2 doors, you also gain seating for an additional passenger (5), more rear leg room (1.5 inches) and larger cargo area (4.4 cubic feet).

This 3rd generation, 2015 Mini Cooper is actually 60-90lbs heavier than its predecessor. This in turn led to the recent report of the EPA’s fuel economy rating dropping from last year’s model. Nevertheless, Mini die-hards and future “Mini-maniacs” will agree the 2015 is a superior vehicle. This stylish design starts on the outside and continues to the interior. The circular infotainment center is the centerpiece of this design. The only disappointment of the interior is the knob that controls the video screen. This BWM iDrive-inspired concept puts the toggle too low in the vehicle that drivers may have a hard time finding it without taking their eyes off the road.

In a recent viral video campaign, Mini Cooper takes a 5,000+ mile road trip across America to introduce the new Mini Cooper. They use these online campaigns to continue to hammer home the idea that you not only buy a car, but join into a culture. Tony Hawk and the skateboard community helped out with this year’s road trip.

Fiat 500

Engine: 1.4L
Horsepower: 101+
Fuel Economy: 31 City / 40 Hwy
MSRP: Starting at $16,445

Inside the 2015 Fiat 500:

The 2015 Fiat 500 has a low base price starting at $16,445 which makes it very affordable for first time car buyers. The small design makes it perfect for urban commuters who struggle to find street parking for larger vehicles. The 500 comes in three trim options: the 500, 500C and 500 Abarth. The 101 horsepower base package configuration seems to lack the get-up that a small car should have. However, the 500 comes in a turbo upgrade with 135 ponies and the precision and speed you expect from this small car. Although the Fiat 500 and Fiat 500L may sound very similar in name, in reality they are quite different. The 500 is a much sportier design, built on a completely different platform and is a true coupe with only a two door configuration.

New for 2015 is the addition of the 7in LCD display which will greatly excite 500 fans. Previously the Fiat 500 had a cluttered dashboard and included a removable TomTom GPS to mask the fact that the vehicle didn’t come with a LCD screen in the dash. Another huge change for the 2015 Fiat 500 is the addition of the automatic transmission on all trim packages besides the base model. This move was made to directly compete with the competition (Ex: Mini Cooper) who offer manual and automatic packages. A downside to the 500 is the amount of rear headroom. It’s a small car that truly feels like a small car for those sitting in the back seat. Although, if you are a resident of a southern state where convertible temps extend to year-round, the 500C effectively eliminates that problem.

The current Fiat commercials also play up to current pop culture. There are too many popular internet memes and other references in this commercial to even begin to comment. Fiat is clearly looking to inspire a young generation with their 500 commercials.

Our Pick for Winner:

Base Model: Mini Cooper

Although the 500 is much smaller in size and able to get you parallel parking spots a Mini Cooper could not, the overall lack of power from the engine and technology in the vehicle make the 500 fall to the Cooper.

Upgrades: Mini Cooper

Although the Fiat 500 is making major improvements in terms of technology and engine options, the Mini offers much more to consumers. The Fiat 500 Abarth is very sporty-looking, but once again, the Mini Cooper S gets the advantage.

Overall Winner:

Mini Cooper

A few years ago, these two vehicles were almost interchangeable in the eyes of the average consumer who couldn’t quite catch on to the small, “boxie” design. The 2015 models of each of these respective models are a lot sleeker in design and the manufacturers are listening to their core customers as to what features they want to see in future designs. The Mini Cooper has our vote for this matchup but as these fairly new vehicle classes continue to evolve, the future for both is very exciting.


Dustin "Dusty" Rhodes

A fan of nice round numbers and working on tiny European cars, Dusty is the proud owner of a '58 Lloyd 600, a '50 FIAT 500, and is currently on the hunt for a Vespa 400. And, despite all that repair work, he still finds time to write about cars. 

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