MINI Cooper vs. FIAT 500 Sport

2011 MINI Cooper

2012 Fiat 500 Sport

As the FIAT 500 arrives in the United States soon, some comparisons to the MINI Cooper have been made.  For our comparison, we chose the two models closest in performance: the MINI Cooper versus the FIAT 500 Sport.  FIAT does have a high-performance model, the FIAT 500 Abarth, but that version will not be coming to the US until 2012 or 2013.

Similarities between MINI and FIAT are plenty.  Both cars are modern updates to their classic versions which had long, relatively unchanged production runs.  The original MINI Cooper from 2001 and the current FIAT 500 were both designed by Frank Stephenson.  Both brands entered the US market with a single model.  And the “Car of the Year” award was won by both.

One interesting note: MINI has just over 100 dealerships in the US after nine years.  FIAT plans to open 130 dealerships at launch.

2011 MINI Cooper 2012 FIAT 500 Sport
Length 146.6″ (3,723 mm) 139.6″ (3,547 mm)
Width 66.3″ (1,683 mm) 64.1″ (1,627 mm)
Height 55.4″ (1,407 mm) 59.8″ (1,520 mm)
Wheelbase 97.1″ (2,466 mm) 90.6″ (2,300 mm)
Weight (Manual) 2,535 lb (1,150 kg) 2,350 lb (1,068 kg)
Weight (Automatic) 2,612 lb (1,190 kg) 2,430 lb (1,105 kg)
Drag Coefficient 0.33 0.35
Engine and Transmission
Type and Displacement Inline 4 Cylinder 1,598 cm³ Inline 4 cylinder 1,368 cm³
Power 121 hp (90 kw) @ 6,000 rpm 101 hp (75 kw) @ 6,900 rpm
Torque 114 lb-ft (160 N-m) @ 4,250 rpm 98 lb-ft (133 N-m) @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-Speed Manual/6-Speed Auto 5-Speed Manual/6-Speed Auto
Front MacPherson MacPherson
Rear Multi-Link Twist-Beam Axle
Wheels and Tires
Wheels 15″ x 5.5 Aluminum Alloy 16″ x 6.5 Cast Aluminum
Tires 175/65-R15 All-Season 195/45-R16 All-Season
Price (MSRP) $19,400 (Excludes Destination) $17,500 (Excludes Destination)
Top Speed 126 mph (203 km/h) 100 mph (160 km/h)
Acceleration (0-62 mph) 9.1 seconds 10.5 seconds
CO2 Emissions 127 g/km 149 g/km

2 thoughts on “MINI Cooper vs. FIAT 500 Sport

  • Ian C.

    It will be interesting to watch. Of course people claimed that Smart would kill MINI …

    Personally I don’t think the Fiat is well enough equipped; MINI offered cute, performance (handling especially) and quite good specs … Fiat offers cute, likely lower performance, and not-so-good specs – for a bit less $$$.

  • Matthew

    Frank Stephenson, I believe, also designed both the Fiat 500 and the R50/53.

    @Ian C, I don’t see the Fiat 500 as a MINI-killer. But, if it isn’t horrid, I can see the Fiat 500 variants presenting significant competition for MINI/BMW.

    My _guess_ is that an equal number of MINI buyers buy for the handling/performance as buy it for the aesthetic alone. One piece of evidence to this end is the fact that something like 70% of MINIs ship with an automatic transmission.

    Reviews I’ve seen/read about the ‘500, particularly the Abarth version, have been quite good. Special editions of the ‘500 have sold out in advance in a number of markets, meaning people bought the ‘500 sight unseen. It’s also smaller, as we can see from the specs above, which has a certain attraction. Lots of reasons to take the Fiat 500 seriously.

    Ultimately, competition is a great thing. Ideally, as I see the MINI’s attributes, I hope Fiat pushes MINI into a position of refining even further what we all love about their cars.

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