Fiat 500 vs. MINI Hardtop

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - January 28, 2016

Both the classic MINI Hardtop and the FIAT 500 are icons of a bygone motoring era. Now both of them have been re-imagined for modern times, with modern conveniences such as Bluetooth and airbags. So, which modern iteration of the Hardtop and 500 best mixes the character of the original with the comfort and driving dynamics that today’s drivers demand?

See a side-by-side comparison of the 500 & Hardtop »

What the FIAT 500 Does Right

Walking up to the 500, it’s easy to appreciate the clean, yet perky styling. The car easily carries the essence of the original 500 while still looking fresh and modern both inside and out. Thanks to a large selection of colors and accessories, the 500 can easily be tailored to show off anyone’s style.

Under the hood, a base 1.4-liter inline four sips fuel at a miserly rate of up to 40 mpg, while the 500 Turbo provides some extra zip with its 135 horsepower. All 500 variants come standard with a five-speed manual, and all but the Turbo can be had with a six-speed automatic.

For buyers looking for even more driving entertainment, there is the 500 Abarth and its 160-horsepower 1.4-liter engine. This tiny hatchback not only has plenty of pop for its size, but it also has extra handling goodies to keep it on glued to the road.

What the MINI Hardtop Does Right

In 2014, the MINI Hardtop underwent a significant transformation that included a larger body and a look that is new but very familiar. This larger MINI body brings it closer to the FIAT in terms of interior roominess in the two-door model and besting it in the new four-door body, making it more of a competition for people who occasionally cram people into the back seats.

The MINI Hardtop easily bests the base FIAT with its new 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 134 horsepower. The S trim level rolls in and pushes things further by adding in a 189-horsepower 2-liter engine. In the range-topping John Cooper Works model, which has a 228-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, the MINI Hardtop widens its performance gap.

Which Automotive Tribute to the 1960s is Most Satisfying Today?

Both the FIAT 500 and the MINI Hardtop have their own distinctive character, and it’s easy to see the roots of each car in their individual designs. Although the MINI is a bit pricier than the 500, it offers more power in both base and S forms than the 500 and 500 Turbo. Also, while the MINI’s interior has faults of its own, such as oddly positioned power window controls, we find it to be just a bit more user-friendly than the FIAT's, especially when it comes to the 500's quirky three-ring gauge cluster.

Our Verdict: MINI Hardtop

The 500 is a great first effort, but the MINI manages to be more powerful and more polished overall.

Take a closer look at the FIAT 500 »

Take a closer look at the MINI Hardtop »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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