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The 2 Series has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500 Cabrio doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.
The 2 Series offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The 2 Series’ lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The 2 Series offers optional Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a front parking aid.
The 2 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
The 2 Series has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the 2 Series and the 500 Cabrio have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.
The BMW 2 Series weighs 804 to 1439 pounds more than the Fiat 500 Cabrio. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500 Cabrio has not been tested, yet.
The 2 Series’ corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 500 Cabrio’s (12 vs. 5 years).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Fiat doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 500 Cabrio.
A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the 2 Series’ engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500 Cabrio’s camshaft. If the 500 Cabrio’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 2 Series has a standard 170-amp alternator (210-amp - 2 Series 6 cyl.). The 500 Cabrio’s 120-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The 500 Cabrio’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the 2 Series’ reliability 47 points higher than the 500 Cabrio.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The 500 Cabrio isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 127 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.
The 2 Series has more powerful engines than the 500 Cabrio:
230i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
M240i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.
500 Cabrio 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.
500c Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.
500c Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.
Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 2 Series’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The 2 Series has 3.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 Cabrio (13.7 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The BMW 2 Series comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the 500 Cabrio.
A six-speed manual is available on the BMW 2 Series, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the 500 Cabrio.
All wheel drive, available in the 2 Series, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Fiat 500 Cabrio is not available with all wheel drive.
The 2 Series Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer launch control.
The BMW 2 Series manual has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.
For better stopping power the 2 Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the 500 Cabrio:
The 2 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the 500 Cabrio are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the 2 Series has larger standard tires than the 500 Cabrio (205/50R17 vs. 195/45R16). The 2 Series’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500 Cabrio (F:225/40R18 & R:245/35R18 vs. 205/40R17).
The 2 Series’ optional 245/35R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 500c Abarth’s optional 40 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 230i has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500 Cabrio. The 2 Series’ optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the 500c Abarth.
The BMW 2 Series’ wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500 Cabrio only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 2 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
For superior ride and handling, the BMW 2 Series has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Fiat 500 Cabrio has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
The 2 Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The 500 Cabrio’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The 2 Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The 500 Cabrio’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 2 Series’ wheelbase is 15.3 inches longer than on the 500 Cabrio (105.9 inches vs. 90.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 2 Series is 4.5 inches wider in the front and 6.3 inches wider in the rear than on the 500 Cabrio.
The 2 Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.2% to 49.8%) than the 500 Cabrio’s (64% to 36%). This gives the 2 Series more stable handling and braking.
For better maneuverability, the 2 Series’ turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the 500 Cabrio’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet). The 2 Series xDrive’s turning circle is .5 feet tighter than the 500 Cabrio’s (37.1 feet vs. 37.6 feet).
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the 2 Series Convertible a Subcompact car, while the 500 Cabrio is rated a Minicompact.
The 2 Series Convertible has 5.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 Cabrio (81.7 vs. 76.2).
The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 500 Cabrio (9.9 vs. 5.4 cubic feet). The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the 500 Cabrio (11.8 vs. 5.4 cubic feet).
With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The 500 Cabrio’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.
A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the 2 Series. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
The 2 Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 500 Cabrio uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The engine in the 2 Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the 500 Cabrio. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.
To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the 2 Series has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.
When two different drivers share the 2 Series, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a memory system.
The 2 Series’ front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 500 Cabrio’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.
The 2 Series’ standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500 Cabrio’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.
If the front windows are left open on the 2 Series w/Comfort Access the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 500 Cabrio can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
In case of a sudden change of weather, the 2 Series offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.
Comfort Go standard on the 2 Series allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse. The Fiat 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer an advanced key system.
The 2 Series has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.
The 2 Series’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 500 Cabrio’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.
Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 2 Series to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer headlight washers.
The 2 Series has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer automatic headlights.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 2 Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 2 Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 2 Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
When the 2 Series is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The 500 Cabrio’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The 2 Series offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 500 Cabrio offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
On extremely cold winter days, the 2 Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The 2 Series has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.
The 2 Series’ standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
For greater rear passenger comfort, the 2 Series has standard rear a/c vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer rear vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 2 Series Auto offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The 2 Series’ optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 500 Cabrio doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW 2 Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 500 Cabrio isn’t in the top three.
The M235i/M240i was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 3 of the last 5 years. The 500 Cabrio has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.
The 2 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The 500 Cabrio has never been an “All Star.”
The BMW 2 Series outsold the Fiat 500 by 71% during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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