2020 MINI Cooper Convertible vs. 2020 Fiat 124 Spider

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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 2019/11/13

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Compared to metal, the Cooper Convertible’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Fiat 124 Spider has a metal gas tank.

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 124 Spider 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 Cooper Convertible and the 124 Spider have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 7 years longer than the 124 Spider’s (12 vs. 5 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. Fiat doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 124 Spider.

Reliability

© 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 2019/11/13

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 124 Spider’s camshaft. If the 124 Spider’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 124 Spider isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 130 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Engine

© 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 2019/11/13

The Cooper Convertible has more powerful engines than the 124 Spider:

Horsepower

Torque

Cooper Convertible S 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

189 HP

206 lbs.-ft.

John Cooper Works Convertible 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

228 HP

235 lbs.-ft.

124 Spider 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

160 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

124 Spider Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

164 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Cooper Convertible S 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the 124 Spider Abarth (manual transmissions tested):

Cooper Convertible

124 Spider

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

6.7 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.9 sec

11.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16 sec

18.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96 MPH

91 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 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 2019/11/13

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Convertible’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Fiat 124 Spider (3). This means the Cooper Convertible produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 124 Spider 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 124 Spider.

The Cooper Convertible offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer an SMG.

To help the driver achieve optimum performance and fuel economy, the Cooper Convertible has a standard up-shift light to indicate when to shift based on power needs and conditions. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer an up-shift light.

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the MINI Cooper Convertible with manual transmission from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

The MINI Cooper Convertible 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

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 124 Spider:

John Cooper Works Convertible

124 Spider

Front Rotors

13.2 inches

11 inches

The Cooper Convertible stops much shorter than the 124 Spider:

Cooper Convertible

124 Spider

70 to 0 MPH

158 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

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The Cooper Convertible’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 124 Spider Lusso/Abarth’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Convertible offers optional 18-inch wheels. The 124 Spider’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The MINI Cooper Convertible’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 124 Spider 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 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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Convertible has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cooper Convertible’s wheelbase is 7.3 inches longer than on the 124 Spider (98.2 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

The Cooper Convertible S handles at .91 G’s, while the 124 Spider Abarth pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

© 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 2019/11/13

The Cooper Convertible is 8.5 inches shorter than the 124 Spider, making the Cooper Convertible easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

For excellent aerodynamics, the Cooper Convertible has standard flush composite headlights. The 124 Spider has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Cooper Convertible is quieter than the 124 Spider Abarth:

Cooper Convertible

124 Spider

At idle

43 dB

50 dB

Full-Throttle

74 dB

84 dB

70 MPH Cruising

71 dB

75 dB

Passenger Space

© 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 2019/11/13

The Cooper Convertible has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 124 Spider can only carry 2.

Cargo Capacity

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The Cooper Convertible has a larger trunk with its top down than the 124 Spider (5.7 vs. 4.9 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

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The Cooper Convertible uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 124 Spider 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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To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Cooper Convertible 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Cooper Convertible’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The 124 Spider’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.

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 124 Spider can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 124 Spider Classica’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Lusso/Abarth.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Cooper Convertible’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The 124 Spider’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The Cooper Convertible’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Fiat offers heated mirrors for extra charge, but only on the 124 Spider Lusso/Abarth.

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 124 Spider’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer dual zone 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

© 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 2019/11/13

The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Fiat 124 Spider isn’t available as a coupe or four-door.

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 2019/11/13

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 124 Spider isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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