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Il Nuovo (Chrysler) Fiat 500 Hits Motor City - GREAT VIDEOS

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Bruce Hubbard
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau

DETROIT - August 3, 2009: Every since this year's Geneva Auto Show where the new FIAT 500c was shown with Elle Macpherson, I have wanted to check it out again...this week in Grosse Pointe and Detroit I had the pleasure.

The new Fiat 500 reminds me not of their first small Centro from Fiat back in 1957 but of the first Mini I drove in 1962. The Fiat Style Centre designed the 500 and they gave us a rock solid masterpiece that is very functional. Electric windows and sunroof. The model shown will be for the American market. I hope that they can also bring in the soft-top "C" convertible model.

Click PLAY to watch the video commemorating Fiat 500's 50th Anniversary

The size is perfect for motoring in Detroit, Florida, or smaller cities. Fiat/Chrysler expects the car to sell for $11,000 to $17,000 in the North American market.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The car I had was nearly 100 horsepower from one of Fiat’s renowned 4 cylinder engines. As they say in Europe the 1.3 liter petrol. I expect to see the wonderful engines in many of the next generation vehicles from Chrysler. In Europe the customizer Abarth has already come out with high horsepower version and customized to go after the Mini buyers. Will not know until the future if the US will get an opportunity to drive one of the Abarth models.

Chrysler/Fiat expect the large majority of buyers will be women. Many youthful. But, I wonder for the other day a lady friend bought the two seater Mazda Miata? In fact the two owners of the newest hard top convertible from Mazda Miata known as the MX5 are over 50 years old.

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I see the Fiat 500 being a real favorite in communities in South Florida. Many of the 55 year and older communities now use electric cars and electric/gas golf carts. But, they cannot go as far as they wish for the weekend. The Fiat 500 can be used for both day to day driving and those longer drives. Fuel economy will be nothing short of what drivers will love. Expect up to 40 mpg but it has not been proven yet.

Like the first Mini I had, the 500 could hold more than many crossovers or wagons with me alone driving. Look at the way the rear seats fold away. From ceiling to the flat surfaces created when rear seats folded I managed to load up more cargo than I could imagine.

Fun to drive is a plus. I had the six-speed version. The Fiat 500C will offer automatics. The 100 horsepower version gets to 100 miles per hour slowly but surely. On the highway some noise comes into the cabin when the sun roof is closed. Chrysler Fiat are working on that and we will see improvements in noise vibration and harshness by the time the 500C is sold in the North American market.

Click PLAY to see the special Barbie doll Fiat 500

At present the vehicle I am showing you is the European version. The North American version will not be much different. The bumpers front and rear may change slightly. Inside larger cup holders I understand are coming. The seats are all leather on our tester. Wonderful. Remind me of the Alfa Romeo seats. Comfortable.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

One plus is the variation of sunroofs. The one you see is a sliding one that takes no interior space away. So tall 6 foot plus drivers will not have a problem.

All in all the Chrysler Fiat group already has a winner once approved for USA sales.

I love the 500 and look forward to testing all versions in Italy. “Ciao!”

Click PLAY to watch the Fiat 500 Abarth in action