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2012 Fiat 500 Review and Roadtest

2012 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Fiat 500

2012 Fiat 500, Buon Giorno
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Fiat 500 sales are moving in the upward direction very quickly. Through the end of May 3,141 new 500s have been delivered to new owners in the United States. By year end there will be 130 Fiat “Studios” in 37 states around the U.S. Coincidental to my one week 500 test car drive, one of the new studios in Chicagoland was just opening and also I was about to go off traveling for a week in Italy.

2012 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)

I stopped in at Fields Fiat in Highland Park to get a brief snapshot of dealer activity. Customer inquiries are coming from all walks of life. Demographic boundaries are being crossed and the youthful and the more senior of our citizenry are checking out the 500. “It’s not how big your car is. It’s how big your life is.” is written on a wall in the Fiat Design Studio in Turin, Italy and this seems to be playing out here in the U.S. Fiat 500 buyers even include Ferrari owners, former Alfa Romeo owners as well as car enthusiasts and collectors.

In Rome my wife and I were visiting with long time friends who are residents and I was able to speak with one of their neighbors, Carlo, who works in automotive advertising. Mixed opinions are apparent as to how successful the 500 will be and how well Americans will accept this car. Since the 500 is state-of-the-art and has been on sale in Europe for a number of years already, one opinion says it will sell very well in the U.S. Others think our gasoline prices aren’t high enough (I know we don’t think that).

Have a look at my previously published story on the Fiat 500, HERE on The Auto Channel; but here’s a brief recap of some of the 500’s highlights.

2012 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)

Three 500 models, are offered--- Pop, Sport and Lounge. The 500 Pop is priced at $15,500, the 500 Sport is $17,500 and the 500 Lounge is $19,500. Very favorable pricing within the competitive landscape.

The 500 is powered by a 4-cylinder, 1.4-liter, 101 HP engine using Fiat’s patented Multi-air technology which significantly reduces emissions and improves fuel economy. The 1.4L Multi-air engine is rated at 30 city mpg and 38 highway with the manual 5-speed transmission and 27 city mpg and 34 highway mpg with the 6-speed automatic.

My test drive 500 was a 5-speed manual and I wasn’t disappointed at all with its performance or fuel economy. It is very fun to drive. The manual trans had me tipping into the throttle continuously for exhilarating stop-sign to stop-sign fun. On my highway trek to Fields Fiat from downtown Chicago I decided to see what I could do with fuel consumption.

To my pleasure I far exceeded the EPA highway rating of 38 mpg and got 41.6 mpg for my round trip. I tried a steady 55 to 60 mph cruise and was getting 45-46 mpg. Not too shabby and well above the EPA mpg.

2012 Fiat 500(select to view enlarged photo)

The 500 is completely equipped with an array of 35 safety features including seven standard air bags and reactive head restraints that help minimize head injury in a rear crash among them. Also, Anti-lock Brake System, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Electronic Brake Override of the throttle, tire-pressure monitoring, and BLUE&ME handsfree communication are some of the many.

2012 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)

Equipment includes power windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, AC and cruise control.

2012 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)

An amazing array of 14 different exterior colors is offered. The 4-person interior is available in 14 different color and material combinations providing the maximum in personal styling. In all, with the different combinations of color, interiors, features, dealer installed accessories and decals there are 500,000 combinations to choose from.

Ownership experience is an important consideration and Fiat has covered the bases here. The 500 comes with a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty and also a 3 year/36,000 mile maintenance program that includes wear-and-tear items and trip-interruption reimbursement.

The 500 is very city friendly with its short overall length and ease of maneuverability. The inside feel is very big and quite adequate for two. The rear seat is perfect for younger children and occasionally another couple. Have a look at

Fiat 500 Cabrio (select to view enlarged photo)

By the way, a Fiat 500 Cabrio has just been announced and will be on the market soon.



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Larry Nutson