For years Mini Cooper has had the “tiny euro car in the US” market monopolized. Quite a few auto makers have put out small cars in an attempt to compete but have had little success. I chalk this up to the fact that Americans are enthralled with 2 things (amongst others): Europe and all things “vintage”. Mini Cooper came into the US market and offered Americans the opportunity to drive a car that was associated with being British (despite being made by BMW…which is not necessarily a bad thing) and loaded with vintage charm. Something that could only come from a heritage brand like Mini. Well the gig may be up for Mini.
I had been hearing rumors that the Italians, as the new owners of Chrysler, would be launching a revised version of the Fiat 500, an italian car that is positioned very nicely to compete with Mini Cooper. I had forgotten about this until a few weeks ago when my neighbor brought one home. I have been seeing it in the driveway for weeks and have to say my inital uncertainty has been slowly migrating to a lingering curiosity. I must say, the car is pretty cool! It’s well designed, the engine has a nice little rumble, and I would assume it drives like its on rails.
Here is the real question: Mini or Fiat?
Mini Cooper S
Fiat 500 Abarth
Originally I was pro Mini in this debate but not sure I am still there. Granted it is a result of the Fiat being brand new, but I feel like the Mini Cooper fad is reaching that played out point. The Fiat is pretty unique and possibly the only Italian car to ever hit US auto lots that didn’t cost six-figures and demand driving loafers.
Either way I am in favor or abandoning the giant SUV’s, lifted trucks, and gas guzzlers that are so stereotypical of the US. I hope to see more cars like this….small, fuel efficient, fun to drive, and well designed. Not to mention the fact that Americans could certainly stand a little petrol diet.