For a long time now, since it was reinvented in 2001 by BMW, seekers of a compact car have automatically chosen a Mini Cooper above any other competitor. Is this out of its engineering superiority, superb design or dynamic repertoire? Well, whatever it is Fiat is now up to the game and the eventual outcome of the competition will only be determined by the consumer. We must however admit that Mini Cooper’s silhouette remains distinctively attractive with a retro yet modern styling that offers unparalleled appeal to young drivers, and if any automaker has to gain the upper hand then it’s not going to be achieved in a midsummer’s dream.
Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
Let’s begin in the showroom: everything about the Abarth screams “buy me,” while the Mini is more reserved in its undertaking. The Abarth’s 135 horsepower turbocharged engine, knee-trembling delightful styling and an array of seductive interior features relegates the Mini to an inferior position, but the latter’s exterior is more engaging. On the inside, the big central speedometer and toggle switches bring in a classical connotation to the Mini while the Abarth has a simpler layout but still plays the retro card. Twin exhausts give the Abarth’s posterior an aggressive look and it drives on 16 inch alloys as opposed to the Mini’s 15 inches, while the Mini’s strengths here are the dual colour scheme, massive wheel arches, a straight-top roofline and the “Aston Martinistic” grille. The Mini Cooper Rocketman’s innovative entry points are like no other and admittedly, the Mini carries home the trophy here.
Mini Cooper has been largely under spotlight by celebrities, appearing in music videos by Sean Paul, Bruno Mars, Roman Virgo, Konshens, Rihanna and Lady Gaga in addition to being Mr. Bean’s unique car that is locked with a padlock. Fiat Abarth has appeared in Jennifer Lopez’s video, and though it has not had as many musical appearances it has featured as a fashion car by Gucci, boasting the designer’s stripes and label on the sides and seats. Now who wouldn’t want that?
Mini’s steering delivers precise, agile responses while the Fiat Abarth 500 places old school thrills ahead of refinement. The Fiat car also feels so much responsive and faster, tearing along straights and accelerating out of corners like a demented terrier. Its turbocharged engine is way more powerful than the Mini’s, has more power to weight ratio and has a more capacious boot. The aspect that defines the Mini on the move is the steering, and this remains its biggest strength. It is also a firm ride compared to the Fiat which is quite hard on the road. The Fiat however remains the most exciting to drive, and if you are in the right mood you will find it as the only genuine hot hatch here. Fans of the Mini Cooper, who are mostly women, are merely driven by looks but for the “real driver,” the winner is undeniably the Fiat Abarth 500.