May 8, 2014
2014 Mini Cooper S vs 2014 Ford Fiesta ST. Click image to enlarge
Review by Jonathan Yarkony, photos by Jeff Wilson and Jonathan Yarkony
Does it seem to anyone else like we can’t get enough of the Fiesta ST? We have no fewer than five stories already, and here we are again. But when we read Brendan’s most recent comparison of the Fiesta ST vs Scion FR-S and his conclusion that it’s “more liveable and just as much fun to drive as the FR-S,” well, we knew that this was the car to pit against the 2014 Mini Cooper S.
Initial reactions to the new Cooper included shock and outrage at its growth, and an overwhelming urge to pinch its cheeks – it’s just so darn cute! However, that growth puts it right at the heart of the subcompact segment and despite being down two doors and one seat, is within range of the Fiesta ST in most significant measures, especially horsepower and torque, which are both separated by less than 10. The Cooper S is now much closer to Fiesta ST than the Fiat 500 Abarth, which we invited but was unavailable.
Anyhow, these are both off the charts when it comes to fun factor, but their diminutive size obviously limits practicality, so we took them out for a day of cruising, hard driving and back-seat testing (more on that later) to find out which is the best all-around hot hatch.
On to the comparison.
The first part of this section is a no-win situation. In this battle between the geeky and the goofy, each is distinctive and will resonate with different audiences.
2014 Mini Cooper S. Click image to enlarge
The Mini offers it’s usual big, bulging round headlights (packing superior HID xenon projectors) and a puppy dog look that will probably speak to cheerful, light-hearted sorts. Next to the Mini, the more angular Fiesta ST looks positively sinister, and in one picture we took, Jeff Wilson commented, “it looks like the Fiesta just scared the crap out of the Mini.”
However, on its own and especially in profile, the Fiesta’s bulging roof, modern treatment, dark wheels and vivid green hue have a sort of geek chic, like a radioactive villain out of a video game (Brendan likened it to a “dust mite” so think insectoid villain). The Mini’s gawping mouth, rounded corners and features, black roof and wheels set against the Volcanic Orange of the body panels is like an effervescent fountain of sunshine – its cheerfulness is just plain contagious.
2014 Ford Fiesta ST. Click image to enlarge
You can’t go wrong, while at the same time, they both seem like strong statements, while more mature hot hatches like the GTI and, er, WRX sedan offer more stealthy, subdued takes on the same theme that will suit those that don’t want to stand out quite so much.
Of course, while looks have a huge impact on many people’s purchase intentions and decisions, we can’t look into people’s hearts and minds – but we can report on the practical aspects of each design.