I haven't driven a 500, and I can't seem to read the article, but.. new Mini knocked my socks off with its impression of full-size sedan quality. This has been gone into before - the door "thunk" and feel/feedback of controls. Put simply, there was not a single indication that this car's design suffered from a sacrifice to any economic considerations. The fact that it drove like a comfortable go-kart didn't hurt either. I believe I read that BMW "lost $", however that's defined, on the earliest cars. Plus they've had time to refine out some of the bugs in series one, while cheapening, no doubt, some of the other features. I thought the only real new tech. that Mini had was the now discontinued/discredited CVT.
The Fiat I sat in at a car show felt... more economically produced - not that there is anything wrong with that, but.. full-size sedan quality? No. OTOH, multi-air seems pretty advanced and very clever. Time will tell if it holds together. In terms of cuteness - very important, in these hipster times - I think the 500 is Mini's match or even better.
I'd probably get a 500, whereas I probably wouldn't get a Mini.
I actually prefer a small car to be simple (and, yes, as economically produced) as possible. When I saw how tightly packed the Mini's essentials were under the hood, I balked. Everything seemed stationed a sheet-of-paper thickness away from an exterior panel or another component - almost like the engineers were trying to impress each other with just how densely everything could be packed in. It looked like a nightmare to work on. And.. enough first series Mini owners have complained about the windshield cracks, trans. issues and "software" glitches (all repaired, if I recall correctly) that I think Mini may have reached just a tad too far in its design spec. That may just be my retro-grouch heart talking, of course, but I usually listen.
The above is the impression I had from the Mini - great car, not practical enough in ownership for me. We will wait to hear how the 500 ends up impressing people - or not.
SF, CA - '73 Berlina/SPICA (RIP), '65 Giulia Sprint GT, '74 Spider/SPICA, '93 164L