Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper
Small city cars and hatchbacks often end up being talked about in the same category because they’re compact, easy to drive, and make perfect sense if you live in an urban environment or tend to go shorter distances.
Two of the most popular small cars on sale in Britain are the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper – both vehicles that offer very different things but that are often put head-to-head against each other.
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper: styling
When it comes down to it, looks are subjective, but with the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper, there’s something for everyone.
The original 500 came out in the 1950s, and Fiat has been very smart not to lose its original design cues seen in its headlights and roofline. We’d say it’s the ‘cuter’ of the two cars (if that’s important to you).
Its small overall size and dimensions make for a pleasant thing to look at – plus, you can’t really tell the difference between the petrol and all-electric 500e, which has its benefits.
Like its rival, the Mini has also retained a few of its design cues from models of old – most notable in the headlights, roof and front grille. What we really like are its frameless windows that just scream ‘Mini’, and at the rear, there’s a tailgate that’s flanked by a couple of multi-use taillights – something the original car also had.
A nifty little addition in more recent cars is styled taillights that look like Union Jack flags – in case you weren’t already aware of Mini’s British heritage.
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper: what are they like to drive?
If town and city driving is something you do regularly, then you won’t be disappointed by the 500’s handling and capability. It really feels at home on tighter roads – after all, it was originally designed to navigate Italy’s narrow and twisty streets.
Other variants include a mild-hybrid and the top-spec sporty Abarth 695 and 595 models that are powered by 1.4-litre petrol engines and produce up to 180hp (which feels like a lot in a car that weighs just over a tonne).
Being a small hatchback, the Cooper is great around town, but it also excels on motorways and tight, twisty British B-roads.
There are a few different engines on offer, including petrol, diesel and the newer Mini Electric. But no matter which you choose, you won’t be disappointed by the performance and longevity of the three powertrain options.
Electric models in both ranges will be pricier, but these can help you cut back on fuel costs.
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper: interior and technology
Inside, the 500 features a very classic-looking cabin that's reminiscent of models from the '50s and '60s. Older models feature much more plastic across the dashboard, while newer models from 2020 offer a more stylish and upgraded interior.
As standard, most cars come with a large touchscreen that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a USB port, and a multi-function steering wheel. Electric versions come with improved software and more capabilities so you can track your car’s range and battery stats.
On top of that, every model features everything you could possibly want/need in a hatchback, with kit including Bluetooth, a great sound system, LED headlights, and folding mirrors.
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper: bootspace and practicality
These two competitors don’t exactly offer SUV levels of interior space and practicality, but they aren’t half bad.
The Fiat has a 185-litre boot, which is much smaller than the Mini’s 211 litres (278 litres for the five-door variant), but then again, it’s a smaller car, so it’s to be expected. However, if extra space is really important to you then on most models, the rear seatbacks split and fold to extend the boot to more than 500 litres.
Speaking of rear seats, if you need to carry around up to three passengers often then the Mini is the one to go for. Not only does it have a larger roof for taller passengers, but there’s also more legspace thanks to its longer wheelbase – especially in the five-seat variant.
Read our in-depth car reviews:
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper: safety and reliability
Being modern cars, we don’t expect you to have any issues regarding reliability. In fact, we would say that as long as you get it serviced regularly, you’ll be fine. But should you have any reservations, we’d recommend checking out cinchCare to increase the protection of your vehicle.
In terms of safety, both cars scored highly in their most recent Euro NCAP crash tests, thanks to some great onboard safety features and solid build quality.
Fiat 500 vs. Mini Cooper dimensions:
Boot space: 185 litres
Mini Cooper 3-door
Boot space: 211 litres
Mini Cooper 5-door
Bootspace: 278 litres
Verdict: Fiat 500 vs Mini Cooper: which should you buy?
We’re sure you’ve come to your own conclusion after reading our comparison review, but just in case you need help making up your mind, here’s a quick verdict.
If you’re looking for a larger boot, more rear space and greater overall practicality, then we’d suggest looking at the Mini. Not only are they priced well but they all tick all the boxes above and offer a splendid driving experience.
However, if you’re someone who doesn’t need as much space and lives in a city or large town, then the Fiat is the one to get. It's cheap to run, has great handling, and will fit in almost any parking space you may come across.
Choosing a used Mini Cooper or used Fiat 500 is also a good way to secure an impressive price.
Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Mini John Cooper Works
If you love the Fiat 500 but want something hotter, the Abarth 500 transforms the iconic model into an impressive hot hatch. There are plenty of models to choose from in the range that were renamed in 2016, becoming the Abarth 595, 595 Turismo, 595 Competizione, and the 695 models.
The Mini John Cooper Works line-up rivals the Abarths with another peppy take on an iconic classic. There are two turbocharged engines on offer that put out 224hp and can hit 0-62mph in as little as 6.1 seconds.
The Abarth 595 gets a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that puts out 177hp and can manage 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.
Both options are comfortable to drive and easy to handle, but the Abarth usually feels firmer.
There's plenty of tech on offer as well. Both models have their own unique interior design that will be down to personal preference, and there's a sleek infotainment set-up in each car.
Mini Cooper S vs. Fiat 500 Abarth
The Mini Cooper S is another model to consider if you're tempted by the Abarth 500.
Where the Abarth 500 offers up to 160hp, the Cooper S gets slightly more at up to 186hp. The Abarth feels nimbler than the firmly planted Cooper S though, so it might actually feel nippier on the roads.
The Cooper S engine is slightly larger as well, with a 2.0-litre set-up that rivals the 1.4-litre engine in the Abarth 500.
Both cars are available as manual and automatic picks, depending on the exact variation you choose.