2011 Mini Cooper vs. 2012 Fiat 500

If you are looking for a small car with excellent handling, high quality interior and distinctive styling, performing a 2011 Mini Cooper vs. 2012 Fiat 500 comparison is worth doing. Each of these front-wheel drive, two-door tiny cars are from European auto brands and have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) that starts under $20,000. While many people think of Mini’s when they think of small cars, the 2012 Fiat 500 is actually smaller in exterior size than the Cooper.

The 2012 Fiat 500 recently went on sale in North America. It is one of the first 2012 model year cars to go on sale. It is an important model for Fiat as it makes its return to North America, after a 28-year absence. More Fiat models are expected to follow. While many buyers think of Ferrari and Lamborghini when it comes to Italian auto manufacturers, Fiat hopes to become a player in much more affordable segments of the American automotive marketplace. The 500 is assembled in Mexico.

The model was reviewed in the April 2011 edition of Motor Trend magazine. The 500 is offered with a 1.4-liter 101 horsepower four-cylinder engine. With a five-speed manual transmission, the 500 gets EPA rated fuel economy of 30-mpg city and 38-mpg highway. In comparison, the 2011 Mini Cooper base with its 1.6-liter 120 horsepower four-cylinder transmission gets an estimated 29-mpg city and 37-mpg highway. With a five-speed manual weighs, the 500 weights 2,333 pounds while the Cooper weighs 2,535 pounds.

The 500 comes in three trim lines: Pop (base model), Sport, and Lounge (fully loaded). The POP has an MSRP of $15,500, while the Sport starts at $17,500, and the Lounge starts at $19,500. The Lounge comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission. This transmission has fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 34-mpg highway.

Motor Trend praised the 500 Sport’s road manners, calling it refined and noting that at speeds up to 90 mph the 500 was calmly cruising with its tachometer barely above 3000 rpm. The tester also reported low tire, wind, and engine noise. This is impressive as most cars of this size with this small an engine struggle at higher freeway speeds. The reviewer also called the leather seats in the 500 Sport quite comfortable, even after more than 100 miles of driving.

Despite its small, impotent engine, a Motor Trend editor called the car “delightful” to drive after taking it on a figure eight track. The cars light weight, excellent handling, and suspension make it a fun car to drive. While the 500’s 0-60 time was just 9.7 seconds and its quarter mile time was 17.2 seconds, Motor Trend dismissed its slow speed times by stating, ”Blacklisting the Fiat 500 because it’s slow in the quarter mile is akin to not flirting with Olivia Munn (American comedic actress, model, television personality and author) because she has a weak bench press. There are other attributes to consider.”

For a car that technically fits into the A-segment of vehicles, along with the Cooper, Smart ForTwo, and upcoming Toyota iQ, the Fiat 500 received raves for its driver interior space. One 6’6” valet who drove the 500 proclaimed that he had more room in the 500 than driving a Cadillac CTS luxury sedan. The back seats are small with just 32.2 inches of rear legroom. This compares with the Cooper, which has 29.9 inches of rear legroom. Overall the Fiat is about two inches narrower and a half a foot smaller than the Cooper in wheelbase and length, but surprisingly the 500 has larger interior dimensions.

Fiat expects to release a turbo-charged version of the 500 within the next year, which will allow it to better compete with the Mini Cooper S, which as 181 horsepower. The 500 Turbo is expected to have about 150 horsepower. A 500 convertible is also in the works. When these new trim lines are released, prospective buyers will have even more reason to perform a Mini Cooper vs. Fiat 500 comparison.

Originally posted 2011-03-24 07:43:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Chevy Sonic

The all-new 2012 Chevy Sonic is the first vehicle built on GM”s new global small-vehicle architecture. This four-door sedan and five-door hatch replaces the Daewoo built Aveo and Aveo5 as Chevy’s subcompact model when it debuts fall 2011. Chevy says the vehicle is designed to be the most fun to drive 40-mpg model sold in the U.S.

The Sonic is certainly a big step up from the Aveo and Aveo5. It has a vastly improved interior and all trims get standard allow wheels. Even rear seat passenger room is relatively spacious with room for six-foot tall adults. North American sold Sonics will be built in Michigan.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG
2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

The Sonic utilizes the engines found in Chevy’s compact model, the Cruze, which debuted in 2011. Buyers can choose from the base 1.8-liter, 138 horsepower engine or an optional turbocharged 1.4-liter 138 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The turbocharged engine produces 23 more pound feet of torque than the normally aspirated four (148 vs. 125).

40-mpg highway fuel economy is expected from both engines. The Sonic comes standard with a five or six-speed manual transmission depending on the trim line. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The Sonic’s 0-60 time is expected to be between 8 and 9 seconds.

New models such as the 2012 Hyundai Accent and Sonic are really upping the power buyers can expect from the subcompact class. While most engines previously were in the 100-120 horsepower range, these two models both have more than 135 horsepower from fuel-efficient engines.

The Sonic made its debut in January at the 2011 North American International Auto Show. It is an important model for Chevy as it attempts to take a bigger chunk out of the growing subcompact market. The 2011 Cruze compact has been a big hit for Chevy already and in recent months has been the top selling compact model in the U.S.

Chevy Sonic LTZ Rear View
Creative Commons License photo credit: saebaryo
2012 Chevy Sonic
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

One added selling point for the Sonic is that it is the only subcompact model assembled in the U.S. Its key competitors, the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, are assembled in Mexico and Japan respectively.

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Originally posted 2011-07-03 11:37:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is a new generation model that will go on sale this fall. It is the first significant redesign of the model since it was re-introduced for the 1998 model year. The new design is a subtle change but there are noticeable differences with a less bulbous shape, flatter roof, narrowed windows, and a sharp crease along the side.

Volkswagen (VW) seems to be going more for sport for the new model also known as the “Bug”, rather the cute, positioning it to better compete with models such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. The company hopes the changes will allow new Beetle to have more appeal with men, which would help Volkswagen improve its sales and make strides toward meeting its goal of tripling sales in the next decade.

The 2012 VW Beetle will be more upscale. It will have more luxurious materials, a significantly larger trunk, and an optional navigation system, which is not offered in the 2011 Beetle.

The 2012 Beetle will have a base engine derived from the current 150-horsepower, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder gas engine. The Beetle will also offer a sportier 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a fuel-efficient diesel engine, which will get about 40-mpg highway. The return of the turbocharged engine to the Beetle is another indication of an attempt to bring in more male buyers. There are no current plans to offer an electric or hybrid engine for the Beetle.

The New Beetle is an important model for Volkswagen. Sales of the Beetle have dwindled in recent years. The model has remained largely unchanged for more than a decade, which combined with an economic recession, lead to low sales. The model reached its sales peak in 2003 with 93,000 units sold when the convertible was introduced. In 2010, the Beetle sold only about 16,500 units. The Mini Cooper outsold the Beetle almost 3-1.

The small car landscape has changed dramatically since the Beetle was reintroduced in 1998. There are many new compelling models and the Beetle’s distinctive, funky design competes against other models such as the Kia Soul, Scion xB, and Nissan Cube, in addition to the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500. However, high gas prices do lead to increases in the sales of smaller cars.

The 2012 Beetle has several barriers to overcome. The 2011 Beetle base model has an MSRP of $18,690, which is more than $3,000 higher than competitors such as the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube, or compact cars such as the Toyota Corolla. The New Beetle does not offer a highly fuel-efficient gas engine. Its base engine actually has quite poor fuel economy compared to its competitors.

The 2011 Beetle base 2.5L model has EPA rated fuel economy of 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway. This compares to the Mini Cooper, which has a smaller engine that returns 29-mpg city and 37-mpg highway. Fuel economy figures and starting retail price are not yet known for the 2012 Beetle.

Originally posted 2011-04-19 05:25:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Fiat 500 Abarth

Fiat has had an interesting odyssey thus far since it returned to selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2011. The company launched the 500, which is subcompact hatchback model, with aggressive sales targets of 50,000 units. Through October 2011, the model had sold less than 16,000 units, which is quite a setback.

Fiat has launched an aggressive advertising campaign bringing in Jennifer Lopez and partnering with Italian fashion maker Gucci for a special edition model. While the car has a distinctive design and was named an Insurance Institute For Highway Safety “Top Safety Pick”, the model will receive a needed boost when the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth arrives.

Abarth 500 Cabrio Italia at the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: Autoviva.com

Power & Fuel Economy

The Abarth is akin to the Cooper S in the Mini brand. While the base 500 has just a 101 horsepower engine, the Abarth is the performance models that takes the same 1.4-liter and adds a turbocharger and intercools it to produce 160 horsepower and a stout 170 pound-feet of torque in a lightweight car. The 500 Abarth weighs less than 2,600 pounds. The 500 Abarth’s 0-60 time is expected to be about 7 seconds.

The Abarth has a sport-tuned suspension, a lower-ride height, double-tipped exhausts, bigger brakes and wheels to handle the nearly 60% power boost over the base model. A rear spoiler is standard and aids aerodynamics. The model’s fuel economy should be similar to the 2012 Mini Cooper S, which gets EPA-estimated fuel economy of 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway.

Taking on the Mini Cooper S

The 500 Abarth also has a spruced up interior and more muscular exterior styling with side skirts and flared wheels, which help ventilate the brake system. The model comes standard with 16-inch wheels with a 17-inch option. Buyers can also opt for a navigation system with a 4.3-inch touch-screen display and leather seats, including red and black leather.

The Fiat 500 Abarth raises the bar in small car safety with smart pedals that move out of the way during a collision to help protect the driver’s feet and legs. The model has seven airbags, 3 less than the diminutive Scion iQ.

Abarth 500 Cabrio Italia at the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: Autoviva.com

On Sale Soon

The Abarth 500 made its public debut at the November 2011 L.A. Auto Show. It will be interesting to see how the model competes against the Mini Cooper S. Check out our Mini Cooper vs. Fiat 500 article to see how the base models compared.

If you want Italian styling and performance at an affordable price, the Fiat 500 Abarth may be for you. The model goes on sale during the first quarter of 2012.

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Originally posted 2011-11-21 22:42:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

2012 Scion iQ

If you are looking for a 2-door subcompact, there is another model to choose this fall. The all-new 2012 Scion iQ will go on sale offering a stylish design, a host of modern standard features, great fuel economy, and Toyota reliability. The iQ will be the world’s smallest four-seat vehicle making it a great commuter vehicle.

The 2012 iQ is not really competing for price, it is competing for value, styling, and features. The model will not be among the cheapest new cars. The iQ is really aimed to take on other premium micro sub-compact models such as the Mini Cooper. The model will come nicely equipped with a starting MSRP of $15,995 including destination. This is several thousand dollars more than the larger scion xD and just a few hundred dollars less than the much larger Scion xB.

2011 Scion IQ
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG
2011 Scion IQ
Creative Commons License photo credit: MSVG

The iQ features a class-leading 10 standard air bags including the world’s first rear-window curtain airbag. Air bags will also be for the front and rear head, and dual front side. Its impressive list of safety features also includes ABS, vehicle stability control, traction control, emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, and child seat anchors.

The 2012 iQ will offer a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that delivers 90 horsepower. Fuel economy has not been published at this time but expect the iQ to be the most fuel efficient gas powered model on the road.

The iQ will come standard with 14” wheels, leather steering wheel, an MP3 player, and reclining rear seats. Despite having a tiny rear cargo area of 9.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, this is larger than the Mini Cooper or Smart fortwo. The iQ has a total maximum cargo capacity of 25.7 cubic fee. The model’s curb weight is 2,295 pounds, which is several hundred pounds lighter than a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

The iQ will go on sale in four phases in the U.S., starting with the West Coat in October, the South in January, and the East and Midwest shortly thereafter. The iQ’s competitors include the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Smart fortwo, and Mazda Mazda2. The iQ is larger than the two-door Toyota Yaris but smaller than the Smart.

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Originally posted 2011-07-17 06:51:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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