I read the thread on the message board and felt compelled to start a new one, only because I have had this discussion with someone who recently opted for a new SR22 GTS. Last evening, I had the pleasure of flying that brand new SR22 GTS.
I have about 25 hours +/- in the SR22 by sheer chance, I had thought about going from the Mooney line into a Cirrus years ago, but there were some issues with the Cirrus I didn't like.
From my perspective, Cirrus is beating Mooney in sales handily for a few reasons. First and foremost, marketing. I attend a few industry shows and open houses at airports throughout any given year. I never, ever see a Mooney on display. Yet Cirrus representatives seem to always be there. Mooney is notoriously missing from most air shows and airport open houses. I have been to three this summer, no sign of anyone from Mooney, but Cirrus was present at all three events.
When it comes to ergonomics, I think Cirrus has done a wonderful job. Their aircraft are well appointed, comfortable, and the interior is well designed. The side stick is a bit odd, but you quickly get used to it. I am a huge proponent of the throttle quadrant being controlled by levers. My 1974 E Model had levers. My new Ovation has vernier controls. I prefer the levers. Cirrus has a quirky lever that controls throttle & prop through a mechanical linkage, but it works. Their mixture control is a lever. The interior layout in the Cirrus is better than the Mooney, period. The seats are much nicer, the layout is user friendly and everything is easy to reach. The fuel selector valve is on the center console, not on the floor. (In my former E Model it was under my right heel, so who am I to complain?).
The Cirrus handles well, lands easily, flies pretty smoothly. I have always liked it. It's a good airplane, and if you ask me, if Cirrus is getting people to buy their product and get into airplanes, more power to them. That's a good thing.
Now I am in a unique position, as I have a near new Ovation, so I can compare. But why are we comparing? That's the question we need to ask ourselves. We're comparing oranges to nectarines. Both round, both fruit, both taste good. That's where it ends.
The Cirrus lacks a few things which I don't like. Starting with retractable gear, nosewheel steering, speed brakes & true prop control. I suppose the SR22 line doesn't need speed brakes. Then there's the performance - you guessed it, we rock. My Ovation can smoke an SR22 GTS in all performance categories, spare landing. Climb rate, cruise speed and handling? The Mooney has that Cirrus beat hands down. Keep in mind we're talking an Ovation, a normally aspirated IO-550G against a turbo 550. Something else I noticed last evening flying the Cirrus - while the cockpit is very nice, we have more room in the modern day Mooneys. The new owner of this SR22 has flown with me in my Ovation, and she noticed it too. I am not sure about useful load, nor do I care. The Mooney is a far better bang for the buck no matter how you dice it. Landing the Cirrus is a piece of cake. Landing the Ovation, you better be on your game or else.
Now there's no question that Mooney manufactures a better product, so why are people gravitating towards the Cirrus? Besides the obvious I have outlined above, which are correctable shortcomings, there are two primary reasons - first is culture being marketed by Cirrus. They're going after a younger audience who might have very well learned in an SR20 at a flight school. Mooneys don't exactly make it into flight schools very often, although my flight school years ago had an E model, which is likely why I am flying an Ovation today. The younger crowd loves the digitization of the cockpit, and Cirrus has done an excellent job designing it.
The other reason Cirrus is selling airplanes at a good pace is that you can go from being a low time pilot into a Cirrus pretty easily. The transition isn't as cumbersome or challenging as going from a C172 into an Acclaim or Ovation. You really can't do that, it's not practical or feasible. Cirrus has designed a plane for people to transition into once they get their certificate, it's just that simple.
Now for the hidden shortcomings. Cirrus owners haven't a clue about what the maintenance expenses are going to be. Those SR22's will kill your wallet on maintenance. Further, the Cirrus concept is that you will buy one now, and buy one in 5-10 years to replace the one you have now, similar to an automobile purchase. Brilliant marketing concept, and again, they're marketing this product phenomenally well. Finally, let's remember the Mooney is a High Performance Complex aircraft. The Cirrus is NOT a Complex aircraft. You don't need a Complex endorsement.
One other dirty little secret they never tell the owners about those lovely Cirri - you pull the chute, you total the airplane right there and then, and there's no guarantee you're going to survive once the parachute is deployed. But they need that parachute for more than the reasons you know about; the sink rate on an engine out is about as bad as it gets. It comes down well, and if the engine poops out, you might as well be flying the Space Shuttle, because that's the kind of sink rate this thing has. The glide ratio is horrible, I think it's about 8:1. Another good reason why they have that parachute.
If Mooney wants to compete with Cirrus, they need to go back to manufacturing the 201 or the 252 Encore, better the ergonomics and market the line with enthusiasm. You can transition into a 201 or Encore fairly easily in my opinion once you have a few hundred hours of experience. To me, having flown both as recently as yesterday, the differences are glaring, and overcoming the shortcomings on the Mooney line are easily achieved. Mooney Aircraft sell themselves, once you get into the cockpit and fly them. And therein lies the problem, there's nobody committed at Mooney who is pushing the product line out to the public.