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Fiat 500L Twinair and Mini One Countryman in the test: cult small car in maxi format

Dino Eisele
Fiat 500L Twinair and Mini One Countryman in the test
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People are increasing in physical size from generation to generation. This trend also applies to their automobiles: The F iat 500 and the Mini once with 3.55 and 3.6 meters in length were still cuddly compact cars, with enough space for passengers, but no more for their sometimes bulky luggage, the younger offspring of the families are now showing a significant increase in automobile size.

The four-door Mini Countryman is now 4.1 meters long, and the four-door Fiat 500L even surpasses it by another five centimeters. Four adults can find enough space in both utility cubes with their short snouts, the fifth passenger only if he shares the rear bench with two fellow passengers who are not too bulky.

Fiat 500L is ahead in terms of space concept

The luggage compartments are at a good, average level with 400 liters (Fiat 500L) and 450 liters (Mini). As soon as the rear seats are laid flat and folded forward, the Fiat 500L in front. Under its intermediate floor, additional space with a level through-loading option leads to a total volume of no less than 1,310 liters, while the Mini, which is also equipped with an intermediate floor flap, clearly comes in second with 1,170 liters.

With the one to two-thirds split rear seats, which can be moved lengthways by around ten centimeters in both models, the Countryman offers a little more variability than that thanks to its separately folding middle section with armrest and simultaneous through-loading option for skis, for example the Fiat 500L.

Peculiarity of the little Italian: The rear seat passengers in the Fiat 500L sit a hand's breadth higher than their front men. On the one hand, this is supposed to improve the forward view, but on the other hand, it brings the occupants' heads relatively close to the headliner, as it hangs a little lower than in the versions without a view upwards through the glass roof and its roller blind cover. The headroom in the Countryman is slightly better than in the Fiat 500L, but the legroomHere and there, pleasingly large.

The Mini scores additional plus points in the front seats. In the Fiat, the driver thinks he is sitting on a slightly raised driver's seat with adjustment levers that are difficult to reach. The Fiat 500L could also make significant gains in lateral guidance. While the seats in the Mini are better shaped and give the body good lateral support even when cornering quickly, the front seats from Italy lack contouring.

Fiat 500L: two-cylinder is rough, but powerful

So similar the concepts, so different the drives. While the Mini draws 98 hp from four cylinders and 1.6 liter displacement, the Fiat 500L wrestles 105 hp from just two cylinders and a cute 875 cc - thanks to the turbocharger. It goes without saying that the running character of the two units contrasts with each other like a rocking drum roll from the gentle harmonies of a chamber quartet.

If the small two-cylinder in the Fiat 500L panted like a free-running chain dog, with growling and trembling and baring teeth, the mini motor accelerates with the inconspicuous service skills of a salon-setter, the excitement of all kinds dear mistress leaves.

The Twinair two-cylinder in the Fiat 500L twirls unmoved up to the nominal speed of 5,500 /min, while the mini-four-cylinder leaves the impression that it would actually like to be quiet from 4,000 /min. Does it really have to be the 6,000 tours from the technical data?

With its fiery, slightly uncouth demeanor, the Fiat 500L engine is reminiscent of a 19-year-old enthusiast from Sicily, always ready to give everything. The mini propellant, on the other hand, seems miles away from the motor ideals of its parent brand BMW. If he runs 0.2 seconds away from the Fiat 500L in the sprint from zero to 100 km /h with 13.5 seconds, he loses sadly clearly in the elasticity measurements: He needs from 60 to 100 km /h in the fifth of the six Gears 4.9 seconds more time.

Downshifting doesn't help: Even in fourth gear, the Fiat 500L is almost four seconds faster. The two comparison candidates only come closer to each other again at top speed: the Mini leaves it at 173 km /h, the Fiat 500L swings up to 180 km /h.

Mini offers more driving dynamics

While the Mini is noticeable on the autobahn mainly because of its quieter engine noise and the lack of vibrations compared to the Fiat 500L, the English peasant shows his sporting talents preferably on the country roads, according to the motto: the curvier, the better. Due to its lower structure and also the lower rear seats, it successfully prevents large roll angles in swiftly rounded corners. As a result, it remains much quieter even in fast changing curves.

Andthen there are the brakes. After ten emergency braking, they bring the Mini to a stop from 100 km /h after 36.1 meters; The Fiat 500L, on the other hand, rolls 3.6 meters further, almost the entire length of the car.

Suspension and damping, seating position, the precise steering and the powerful brakes make the Countryman a better friend when it comes to it to cut through the New Forest as quickly as possible, in the footsteps of Stirling Moss and Graham Hill. The taller Fiat 500L is a little more spongy in the curves, seems to threaten to rock back up earlier in S-curves and sometimes waves its rear, which is intended to describe the tendency to steer the hindquarters.

Although the Mini keeps the Fiat 500L at a close distance in the chapter on property evaluations, the 500L beats the English rival at all levels. Its engine is grumpier, but depends better on the gas, its steering is not quite as precise, but its space is larger. Above all, however, the Fiat 500L scores with good equipment, lower consumption and lower costs.

In addition, he has qualities relating to the environment. The bottom line is that his moderate thirst for petrol produces less CO2 than the Mini's four-cylinder.

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