2020 MINI Cooper Convertible vs. 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Cooper Convertible has standard Automatic Emergency Braking, 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 4C doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Cooper Convertible has standard Rear Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The 4C doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The Cooper Convertible has standard Assist eCall, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 4C doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Cooper Convertible and the 4C have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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The Cooper Convertible’s corrosion warranty is 8 years longer than the 4C’s (12 vs. 4 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Convertible for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Alfa Romeo only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the 4C.

Reliability

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A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Cooper Convertible’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 4C’s camshafts. If the 4C’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Convertible first among compact sporty cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The 4C isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that MINI vehicles are better in initial quality than Alfa Romeo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 23rd in initial quality. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Alfa Romeo is ranked 29th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Convertible’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 4C doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cooper Convertible’s 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 4C doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Cooper Convertible has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the 4C (11.6 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the MINI Cooper Convertible higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Alfa Romeo 4C (1). This means the Cooper Convertible produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 4C every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is optional on the MINI Cooper Convertible, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 4C.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the John Cooper Works Convertible’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the 4C:

John Cooper Works Convertible

4C

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

12 inches

Tires and Wheels

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Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Cooper Convertible can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The 4C doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Cooper Convertible 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 4C’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Convertible has standard power steering to make quick and controllable low speed maneuvers easy. The 4C doesn’t offer power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cooper Convertible’s wheelbase is 4.5 inches longer than on the 4C (98.2 inches vs. 93.7 inches).

For better maneuverability, the Cooper Convertible’s turning circle is 5.1 feet tighter than the 4C’s (35.4 feet vs. 40.5 feet).

Chassis

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The Cooper Convertible is 5.9 inches shorter than the 4C, making the Cooper Convertible easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Cooper Convertible is 5.5 inches narrower than the 4C, making the Cooper Convertible easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

Passenger Space

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The Cooper Convertible has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 4C can only carry 2.

The Cooper Convertible has 1.8 inches more front headroom and 1.2 inches more front shoulder room than the 4C.

Cargo Capacity

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The Cooper Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 4C Spider (5.7 vs. 3.7 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

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The Cooper Convertible uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 4C 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.

Ergonomics

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The Cooper Convertible offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The 4C doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Cooper Convertible’s front and rear power windows all 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 4C’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Cooper Convertible’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’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 windows are left open on the Cooper Convertible the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 4C can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Start/Stop Switch standard on the Cooper Convertible allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse. The Alfa Romeo 4C doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Cooper Convertible 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 4C doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Cooper Convertible’s 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 4C’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 Cooper Convertible to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 4C doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The Cooper Convertible 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 4C doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Cooper Convertible detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Cooper Convertible offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The 4C doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Cooper Convertible’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The 4C’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The Cooper Convertible’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’s power mirror controls are on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

When the Cooper Convertible with available tilt-down mirrors 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 4C’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 4C doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

The Cooper Convertible offers optional heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the 4C.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional 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 4C doesn’t offer dual zone air-conditioning.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic air-conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Cooper Convertible 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 4C doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To help keep the driver’s hands on the wheel, the Cooper Convertible has standard steering wheel controls for the radio. The 4C doesn’t offer steering wheel audio controls.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address with audible turn-by-turn directions, a GPS navigation system is available on the Cooper Convertible. The Cooper Convertible’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The 4C doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With optional voice command, the Cooper Convertible offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The 4C doesn’t offer a voice control system.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the MINI Cooper offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The 4C doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 4C doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t available as a coupe or four-door.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Cooper Convertible owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Cooper Convertible will cost $4310 to $6015 less than the 4C over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the MINI Cooper Convertible will be $23457 to $36114 less than for the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/20

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Convertible first among compact sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 4C isn’t in the top three.

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