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2012 Fiat 500 Gucci Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

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

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Senior Editor
The Auto Channel

SPECIFICATIONS - 2012 Fiat 500

Model: 2012 Fiat 500 Gucci
Engine: 1.4-liter I4
Horsepower/Torque: 101 hp @ 6,500 rpm/98 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 90.6 in.
Length/Width/Height: 139.6 x 64.1 x 59.8 in.
Tires: P185/55R15
Cargo volume: 9.5 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/37.4 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 1035 gal.
Curb weight: 2,434 lbs.
Sticker: $24,400 (includes $500 destination charge and $4,400 in options ($4,000 for the Gucci package)

Top 5 Reasons to buy this car
1. You may want to drive a cousin to a Ferrari
2. Feel Italian like all the Romans who driven them
3. Economy
4. Ease of parking and handling
5. Fun to drive

The Bottom Line: Of the micro cars on the market to date, the Fiat 500 is the largest, edging out the Scion iQ and the smart fourtwo. With the Gucci striping and interior accoutrements, it may well be the sexiest. However, the Gucci package (and the other options in the package) push the sticker over $20,000, which is a bit much for an it-si bit-si economy car.

On my trip to Rome a few years back, one memory is of how I was awakened every morning by the buzz of motor scooters and Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) cars being driven by commuters on their way to work. I even got to drive one myself, and must admit I enjoyed the experience.

Fast forward ten years and Fiat is back in the United States with the latest version of the 500. It is no longer powered by a 500cc engine. That part of the car has grown to 1.4 liters and the four banger puts our 101 horsepower, which is enough for the little Fiat. The 500 has also added all the requisite safety features that make it less threatening on American roads.

The engine, however, is buzzy all the time. It is small, and in order to gain the maximum performance, it must be revved quite high. After a while the buzziness becomes almost invisible (yeah, I know I'm mixing metaphors there, but you get the idea), so that must mean it isn't too bad.

Buzziness or not, it is an economical engine. We achieved 37.4 mpg on our test, which was basically around-town motoring with a few larger highways. All this with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The 500 looks good, and with the addition of Gucci striping (green and red striped encircle the car), there's a bit of sexiness. After all, this is the model J Lo drives in the commercials. The package is completed with white seat inserts that have red and green striping.

Watch "Fiat and Gucci Introduce the 500 Gucci"

I was stopped in a store parking lot by someone who knew his cars. He didn't ask if it was the Fiat 500; he asked if it was the Gucci package. He enjoyed looking all around the car.

One look at the instrument panel and you know you're in something different. The center is dominated by a huge round gauge (almost like the Mini's center-mounted gauge, but more practical). On the outside ring of this dial is the speedometer. One ring in and you have the tachometer. Sometimes it's odd seeing both needles moving at the same time. In the center core are the fuel gauge, water temperature gauge, and odometers, clock, etc.

I'm not a fan of power window control located in the center stack. In all fairness, though, I did learn where they were after a few failed attempts at trying to find them in other locations.

To increase interior space, there is no center arm rest/console. My wife and I didn't spend trips rubbing elbows, either, but we might have felt cramped with an arm rest between us.

The front seats are comfortable for long-ish rides. they're also heated, which helps in the winter. As might be expected, the rear seats have minimal leg room. Unless you really need them, you might be better off folding them down and growing the trunk.

Watch "Fiat and Gucci Celebrate the 500 Gucci"

Another "different" feature was the normal size owner's manual. Instead of an automotive version of "War and Peace," it is practical and it's easy to find all the information you want.

For example, I wondered about the receiver on top of the dash. A little searching told me it was for the Tom Tom GPS system ($400 option). There's a holder for the GPS and the unit plugs into this receiver, giving a sturdy mount and electrical power. If you don't need the GPS, the whole unit fits into the glove box.

I don't know how many bazillion Cinquecento’s have been sold over the years, but it is the national car of Italy. With the emphasis on economy these days, it may find a good reception in America in its second coming.

2012 The Auto Page