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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

75 Reasons to Buy a Fiat 500 over a MINI

Here are 75 reasons to choose a Fiat 500 over a MINI, courtesy of John Montgomery, President of the Fiat Lancia Unlimited car club.*

75 Great Reasons to choose Fiat 500 over the BMW Mini
– by John Montgomery, Fiat Lancia Unlimited,

Overall Comparison, Fiat 500 vs. Mini:

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 over 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 twice the percentage of USA/Canadian content and Fiat’s engine is made in Michigan.
12. Fiat parts prices compare lower in price than BMW Mini parts.

Exterior Comparison:

13. Fiat has 14 exterior colors but only two are $500 extra. Mini: 7 of 10 colors are $500 extra!
14. The Fiat is taller overall with more upright seating position for better road view than the Mini.
15. Fog lights on Fiat Sport & Lounge are standard. Fog lights for base Mini cost $250.
16. The Fiat Lounge has fixed glass sunroof standard. Mini has no such thing.
17. The Fiat electric sunroof is an $850 option but the Mini sunroof option costs $1000.
18. The Fiat has quieter DBA noise level at idle and at speed on the road.
19. The Fiat has lower emissions than the Mini as well as lowest in class.
20. The Fiat Bi-Halogen headlights use the latest hi-tech bulb and of course daytime running lights.

Interior Comparison:

21. The Fiat has more space within the wheelbase devoted to passenger room.
22. Fiat drivers fit up to the 90th percentile adult, up to 6’ 1” without bumping headliner. Drivers up to 6’3” fit well in the 500 without the sunroof option (which takes 2” headroom.)
23. Fiat rear seat passengers cover a 70th percentile, up to 5’9 without bumping liner.
24. The Fiat has more rear seat leg room, Fiat 32.2”, Mini has 29.9”.
25. The Fiat 500 has 6.5 cubic foot trunk space, more than the Mini’s 5.7 cu. ft.
26. The Fiat has a longer luggage floor w/ seats upright, even though it’s shorter outside.
27. The Fiat 500 has a longer luggage floor with the seats folded down too!
28. The Fiat holds 30 cu. ft. of cargo w/ seats folded down; the base Mini only 24 cu. ft.
29. The Fiat base front passenger seat has storage compartment under seat cushion. Mini does not.
30. The Fiat has an outboard top seatback lever and inboard lower lever for rear passenger egress.
31. Centralized pod instrument bezel on the Fiat is directly in front of the driver, not on Mini.
32. Fiat driver levers; switches & controls are much easier to reach than the BMW Mini.
33. Fiat drivers do not need to tilt their head to see the heater controls, only look down.
34. The Fiat gear shifter is closer at hand than the Mini and a very short throw.
35. The Fiat center armrest is standard; the Mini center armrest is a $250 option.
36. Fiat offers heated seats & mirrors for less than Mini’s $750 cold weather combo package.
37. The Fiat 500 has an HVAC system with micron air filter for the cabin, even on base models.
38. The 500 offers “equivalent temperature” sensors, changing settings based on inside and outside conditions of temperature, humidity and airflow.
39. The Fiat includes a security system as standard, a $500 Mini option.
40. Tom-Tom docking feature on Fiat eliminates wires or plug-ins to cigar lighter.
41. The Fiat offers a superior “Blue & Me” interactive link w/ steering wheel controls & USB port.
42. Fiat’s Blue & Me system is $400 option, a similar system is a $1750 package on the Mini.
43. The Fiat has “Eco-Drive”, a down load application to review driving habits.
44. The BOSE 6 speaker system made for the 500 uses 50% less energy & 30% smaller hardware.
45. The Fiat BOSE audio has amps under the front passenger seat, out of the way.

Performance Comparison:

46. The Fiat manual gets better mileage; the Fiat 30/38 MPG vs. Mini’s 28/37 MPG.
47. The Fiat does not require premium fuel. All Minis require at least mid grade 91 octane!
48. The Fiat 500 has a better power to weight ratio than the Mini base 1.6 engines.
49. The Fiat has patented Multi-Air valve technology, unavailable on the Mini.
50. The Fiat Pop, Sport & Lounge all have a stainless steel exhaust system standard.
51. The Fiat has hydraulic cam followers; Multi Air system reduces pumping losses.
52. The Fiat 6 speed automatic is $1000 option; mates buying the Mini pay $1250.
53. The Fiat automatic transmission has a one touch shifter + or -.
54. Fiat has a dashboard “Sport” switch sharpens steering and auto trans shift points.
55. The Fiat “hill holder” keeps the manual car from rolling back (or forward too) on grades.
56. Fiat has traction control standard. It’s an option on base Mini for $250.
57. The Fiat’s “HBA” hydraulic braking control compensates for pressure in panic stops and lowers actuation time for maximum braking force.
58. Fiat braking “EBD” reads actual wheel speed data for faster brake response times.
59. 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.
60. Fiat’s “ASR” reduces wheel slip at all speeds and adjusts torque for grip detected.

Safety Comparison:

61. The Fiat has 7 airbags standard while Mini has only 6. Fiat includes driver’s knee airbag.
62. The Fiat has double seatbelt pretensions to tighten in a crash event sequence. Mini has only single belt pre-tensioners. All Fiat seats include 3 point belts and reactive head restraints.
63. The Fiat has a lower forward vision angle of 8%, Fiat driver sits more upright.
64. The Fiat’s narrower “A” pillars are of high tensile steel for safety w/ better visibility.
65. The Fiat front & rear seats have anti submarine devices to prevent sliding under belts.
66. The Fiat has breakaway foot pedals in high impact frontal crashes to protect feet.
67. The Fiat has soft energy impact hood area in case the car ever strikes a pedestrian.
68. Fiat’s “FPS” (fire prevention switch) cuts off and stops the electric fuel pump in a crash, even a rollover crash. Then the Fiat automatically turns on the hazards, interior lights & unlocks doors.
69. The Fiat’s interior trim is flame resistant. Mini does not use flame retardants.

Heritage Comparison:

70. Fiat since 1899 is an independent manufacturer. Mini was BMC, now owned by BMW.
71. Fiat owns Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, New Holland Tractors, Kobelco Construction Equipment, Magnetti Marelli and Teksid, the world’s largest engine foundry.
72. The original Fiat 500 appeared in 1957, the original Mini in 1959.
73. The Fiat 500 is sold in 90 countries; more than the BMW Mini.
74. Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work daily. However, Enzo also owned a Mini and loved it too!
75. Fiat SpA holds the record for most European Car of the Year Awards (Fiat 500 won in 2008), most World Rally Championships, most Formula One Championships.

Be sure to visit to build your own Fiat 500 or find your nearest dealer!

Fiat Lancia Unlimited is the largest Fiat car club in the US. Visit them here: Fiat Lancia Unlimited Car Club website

*Please note that many of these points that John makes are subjective and a few inaccuracies concerning what is standard equipment on the Mini have been brought up over time. With that in mind, I wouldn't consider this a definitive list, but more as guideline of features that may be important to you. I've left the post up for its entertainment and discussion factors, but please do your own research on items that are listed that are of critical importance to you.


peterjerome said...

This is a great comparison. There is an area that each of us and Mr. Mongomery might want to add to the comparison. That is maintenance costs. I have friends and family that have sworn off German originating cars (which the MINI is) for that reason alone. Even Volkswagen products are included in this statement. My niece's MINI was very expensive to keep going even when things did not go south.I think it is fair to say that throughout North America Chrysler's service charges are less than BMW's, so I suspect in a year or two a substantial saving in maintenace costs could be added to Mr.Montgomery's comparison.

Anonymous said...

Points 33 and 39 are the same. Not saying the Fiat is now inferior with only 74 reasons, but one reason doesn't count for two.

Anonymous said...

#33 and #39 are the same.

Anonymous said...

76. The Fiat is infinitely cooler than the Mini

Anonymous said...

Once you have removed the duplicate 33/39, maybe you could tell us about the galvanized parts of the car, or don't we get that here?

Anonymous said...

33 and 39 are the same comment.. That makes 74! But, all are excellent reasons!

TK said...

That list is a lot of fun. Thanks to John for working on it!

Mario Carneiro Neto said...

Reason 75 is blatantly wrong. Enzo Ferrari DID own and sometimes personally drove a Mini, and had utmost respect for its designer Alec Issigonis. Just ask John Surtees. In fact, start this video at 8:00 and you'll hear it from him. Ironically Enzo Ferrari never drove a 500. I'm a Fiat fan, but don't overdo it.

ClandestineDining said...

well said - I myself am waiting for the ABARTH! next year, my first new car will be a FIAT - ABARTH 500! said...

Hey, Enzo wasn't perfect! Quite a flawed man, but I forgive him for driving a MINI;)

lavardera said...

71 not true. Mini doors lock automatically at 10mph. Come up with another.

Anonymous said...


Thanks lavardera, Took care of that!

Scotto said...

Lest not forget that Michael Schumacher drives an Abarth 500 as his daily driver:

Anonymous said...

Unless the list has changed, the comment about #33 and #39 being the same is wrong. I see it as #33 and #64 being the same.

Mario Carneiro Neto said... #75 blatantly wrong.

75. Enzo Ferrari drove a Fiat to work daily.

Where in this sentence do you see anything about Enzo NOT owning a MINI?!? It only states, whether true or not, that he drove a FIAT as his daily driver. This statement doesn't even mention the 500 at all, only FIAT. Reading too much into it. said...

Anonymous said...
"Unless the list has changed, the comment about #33 and #39 being the same is wrong. I see it as #33 and #64 being the same...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comment. Actually, the list was revised, the first one published was the draft. There were some duplicates and the last one mentioned Ferrari never driving a MINI, however, he was given a MINI by the designer, Issigonis, during the 1960s.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see proof (i.e. source material) for many of these. I guess we just have to take your word for it. Wouldn't be that hard to add footnotes to each of these ala Wikipedia. Otherwise, it's just one guy who is passionate about the Fiat making junk up, for all I know.

Unknown said...

reason 48 says "does not require premium fuel"

the following is from FIAT 500 specs page from website:

Engine liters - 1.4 Cylinder configuration - I-4 Horsepower - 101hp @ 6,500RPM Torque - 98 lb.-ft. @ 4,000RPM Number of valves - 16 Variable valve control Sequential multi-point fuel injection Engine location - front Recommended fuel - premium unleaded Transmission - 5 speed manual Drive type - front-wheel Fuel economy city - 30mpg Fuel economy highway - 38mpg Fuel tank capacity - 10.5gal.

I believe the recommended Premium Unleaded might be....premium fuel?

Cute comparison though...but I still love my MINI. said...

Hi cycleway,

Thanks for writing in. I like the MINI, too!

I think what is meant by required is you "must use". The recommended means, you should for best performance, but you don't have to.

Best regards,


Best regard

Alfrodull said...

Plus there is the possibility of getting Abarth kits for your Cinquecento :)

Anonymous said...

Ok The US market Fiat is an "Italian" car made in Mexico. The MINI is a "British" car made in the UK.

The US government gave Chrysler money to save US jobs, and they then partner with Fiat to build a car in Mexico, and import it back to the States under NAFTA. So they make it cheaper and avoid import costs. Then they charge 15k for it... hmm... A Hyundai costs how much?

I'd rather buy a vehicle where the economies of scale are closer and there is a better chance for trade reciprocity.

Don't get me wrong, the Fiat looks nice and if it was made in Europe or somewhere that the US could fairly compete with in import/export it would be worth its salt. However, it is not.

On another level outside of the issues around the United States labor market. There is something nice about preserving the heritage of the car. BMW realized the key factor of the mini was its icon status. So they went with a retro design and chose to keep production in the UK. Fiat, likewise noticed the iconic status of their car. They too went with a retro design (which like MINI's, simply works well for this car). However, unlike MINI this vehicle holds the colors red, white, and green... but not of the Italian flag.

TK said...

Top Gear's comparison of the Fiat vs the Mini:

Anonymous said...

#55 - Hill holder clutch. The MINI has had this feature for the past two years, and it remains standard on all trim levels sold in the US.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved Chrysler products, and had really great luck with them, especially my Neon R/T. Although, admittedly, my PT Cruiser GT did have a transmission issue once, but still didn't leave me stranded. While in College I decided to get a new car, and wanted to get something fun to drive, with very good gas mileage. After some research, and test drives, I ordered a MINI Cooper Clubman. It was a great car for about 15,000 miles, after that things started going wrong. Including a catastrophic engine failure, while driving on the interstate, caused by a bolt not being torqued properly. After waiting two weeks for a new engine, while given a Masda 6 as a loaner car, I finally got the car back. Six hours after I got the car back, it had another catastrophic failure due to the clutch assembly not being put back together correctly. Besides the quirks with the electronics, it left me stranded twice in it's first 17,000 miles. I have NEVER had a car leave me stranded before. Besides all of the frustration with the car, the people at the BMW dealership were very rude throughout the process, except of course when they were selling me the car. Unfortunately, when the economy went south, I lost my job, and had to give the car up, or drop out of college. That being said, I wasn't all that sad to see it go. By the end, with 36,000 miles, it was taking up to 5 tries to get it to start. Don't get me wrong, I like MINIs, but I would never buy another one. In my experience, they're all flash, and no substance. I personally don't think Chrysler's are all that bad, my 2000 Sebring Limited Convertible has 160,000 miles, and still drives like a new car, and my PT Cruiser GT has 100,000 miles on it, and other than the Transmission problem(still didn't have to have it towed, drove it another 70 miles in limp mode, to the stealership, and then to a transmission shop) has been a good car(Wish I would have held out for a manual). Now that I've graduated, I'm very seriously considering a Fiat 500. I like the fact that I don't feel like I'm betraying my brand. I also like that it seems to be the right mix of fun to drive, with great gas mileage, that made me consider the MINI. I think I'm going to hold out for the Abarth though. Also, in regards to #54, my MINI (in 2008) had a sport button to change the steering effort, and had my car been an automatic, it would have also altered shift points, etc... I'm not sure if that's been discontinued, but it was standard equipment on my car.

Anonymous said...

I owned a MINI for 6 months. It was a 2005 Cooper convertible. I also own an original Mini Cooper and I just want to say the new Mini can not hold a candle to the old one. The more I drove the original the more I loved it. The more I drove the new one the more I hated it. It had the God awful CVT transmission and I had nothing but grief with it. The transmission went out 2 days before the warranty was up. I had nothing but one problem after another with that car. It rode just awful it was a real butt basher. The original one rode better than the new one. I do not miss that car one bit and I will NEVER buy another Mini. I just drove a Fiat 500 last week and I love it. The Fiat 500 feels like a quality car and drives like no Mini could. I was VERY impressed with it and I wish it all the luck in this country.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got bragging rights: 52 years of FIAT ownership and I just bought a yet-to-be delivered New 500. One million miles in 12 FIATs, most under one liter. 500s, 600s, 850 sedans, an 1100, and three 128-based Yugos. As you can tell, I'm a believer and have total faith I'll not be disappointed by this one. I've also long term rented a couple of 127s on the Continent. Also rented Mk 1 Minis in UK twice... Their fun factor fortunately offsets their terrible ergonomics.

Akos Szilvasi said...

Did anyone mention the endlessly frustrating, cheap looking and tacky interior of the Mini?? My wife owns the newer version "S". The car is a tremendous fun to drive but I can not remember how to use the wipers, the radio and almost any other functions. It feels like BMW outsourced the interior design to a high school. The German cars usually has simple and functional interiors (which I like). Here they ventured to a territory they are not good at. The Fiat on the other hand is a delight and elegance inside and out.

(PS: and the Mini had a massive oil leak at 5000 miles)

Anonymous said...

I got my Fiat 500 yesterday and I just love it. The cream and brown interior is stunning. Thank you Fiat for making such a beatufiul car!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Fiat Lounge has fixed glass sunroof standard. Mini has no such thing. This thing is so true.

Anonymous said...

33 and 39 are not the same comments. My advice is get a better pair of reading glasses. My question is when can we purchase a Turbo for the base 500 instead of having to purchase a comopletely new car. Please advise if you know. No guessing though.. :)

Anonymous said...

54 and 55....the Mini has a sport button, as well as hill assist.

and #14...really? Have you ever driven a Mini? Most car magazines agree the Fiats upright seating position is a BAD thing.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of competitors out there to the MINI and FIAT. Yes the FIAT seems to have many great features. However if this comparison was truly being honest then there would maybe be 20 reasons to buy a FIAT over a MINI. Also, this list would NOT sway me one way or the other. The drive would.

Ricky Ryan said...

After taking both for a test drive the result was immediate for both me and my girlfriend.

The Abarth runs "cheap", you feel like you're in a toy, there is allot of cabin noise from wind, the tires and obviously the muffler.

The ride itselfs feels like you're in an inexpensive car.

It shows all they did was put power in a cheap FIAT and did nothing for the ride.

I'll note that prior to trying both I was HEAVILY in favor of the Abarth, the price was better and it had all the options... but that changed within a minute of trying both.

MINIs are a BMW car and it shows.

Anonymous said...

#54 - #60 the MINI also features as standard equipment. Just remove them from the list, because they aren't "advantages" or "reasons to buy over a MINI."

Anonymous said...

#8 is Actually 2 Reasons not 1.

Fiat 500 Assembled in Mexico.

Engine - MADE IN THE USA. Good Job Fiat.

Transmission - If I remember correctly I believe its Made in Japan.
Someone correct me if I am wrong please.

I am very pleased with my 2013 Fiat 500.

This is coming from someone that owns a 2006 Mercedes R350 and a 2007 S550. I wanted a small car for commuting. I drove all vehicles in its class from the The Smart Car, Mini Cooper, Nissan, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, Hyundai and Honda. Personally I felt that the Fiat was a far superior vehicle for the value.

I am Impressed for the size of the vehicle. Most of the other vehicles in its class are very noisy when driving down the road.

I am use to the Mercedes so I do know what I am talking about.