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2013 Fiat 500 Turbo and 500e Reviews By Larry Nutson

2013 Fiat 500 (select to view enlarged photo)

Due´ Fiat 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo and 500e Reviews

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

The city-friendly Fiat 500, the Cinquecento, arrived on the scene here in the U.S. in the first half of 2011 with its 2-door coupe in Pop, Sport and Lounge trims. Then came the 500c Cabrio, and then the Abarth, and then the Cabrio Abarth. And now Fiat has a 500 Turbo and also the fully electric battery-powered 500e…well, at least out west.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to get up close, get inside, and drive both the 500 Turbo and the 500e. This drive opportunity occurred first at the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) Spring Brake in Bear Mountain, New York, which is located just to the south of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The second was at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally held at Road America Race Track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

Where to start? Let’s talk about the 500 Turbo, with more ponies than the 500 but not quite up to that of the Abarth. The Fiat 500 Turbo features a single turbocharger, twin intercoolers and sport-tuned exhaust to deliver 34 percent more power (135 vs. 101 horsepower) and 53 percent more torque (150 vs. 98 lb.-ft.) compared to the Fiat 500’s naturally aspirated 1.4-liter MultiAir engine.

The Fiat 500 Turbo is paired to a C510 five-speed manual transmission with a 3.35 final-drive gear ratio for quick acceleration and faster top speed, with an EPA highway test rating of 34 mpg. The EPA city test rating is 28 mpg.

For more precise handling, underneath there is a sport-tuned suspension, sport steering calibration, sport front-lower control arms and high-performance brake system. The front fascia is pushed forward to accommodate the turbo system and features a larger air intake and twin nostrils for the intercooler. A performance-designed rear fascia, side sills and rear spoiler add to the more sporty look and improve aerodynamics.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

Inside, the 500 Turbo features sport-styled seating, sport-designed leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel accented with Argento (silver) stitching, and a Grigio/Nero (gray/black) seating and interior trim. Heated leather seating in Nero/Nero (black/black) or vivid Rosso/Nero (red/black) is available.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo arrives to FIAT Studios this fall with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $19,500 excluding $700 destination charge.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2013 Fiat 500e is only for the U.S. “left coast” at this time and comes first to California. The 500e is even more city-friendly and still lots of fun to drive. The 500e features an all-new battery-electric powertrain that produces 111 horsepower (83 kW), recharges in less than 4 hours with its Level 2 (240 volt) on-board charging module (OBCM). EPA testing has indicated that, when fully charged, the Fiat 500e will travel about 87 miles, which is best-in-class and better than all U.S.-market EVs produced by high-volume manufacturers.

The EPA test ratings are 122 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) city and 108 MPGe highway, which is unsurpassed by any electric vehicle (EV) on the U.S. market. To achieve a 13 percent improvement in aerodynamics (0.311 coefficient of drag (Cd) compared to the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge’s 0.359 Cd), the Fiat 500e features eight exterior enhancements and more than 140 hours of wind tunnel testing and refinement.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

On the inside, the all-new 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) instrument cluster displays full-color picture graphics to illustrate vehicle functions, charge levels and trip summary. In addition, a new TomTom Navigation unit enables the driver to view the vehicle’s charge schedule, range, and power-flow gauges, and can even request nearby charging stations with real-time availability. Below its instrument panel bezel, the 2013 Fiat 500e also includes an all-new electronic shifter with easy-to-use push-button transmission mode selection.

The Fiat 500e is priced at $32,500, which includes a $700 destination charge. However, eligible California residents may be able to purchase the 500e for as low as $20,500, after federal credits, state incentives and FIAT rebates are included. That’s about $200 less than the current starting price of a comparably-equipped Fiat 500 Lounge with a gas engine.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

The 500e will be offered to California residents at launch with a $199 a month/$999 due at signing lease for 36 months, same as the current lease offer on a Fiat 500 Pop powered by a gas engine.

Acknowledging the limitations of a small EV, for those times when a 500e customer needs to drive beyond the vehicle’s range or needs the carrying capability of a larger vehicle, the Fiat 500e retail plan provides an alternative transportation plan called the Fiat 500e Pass program.

The FIAT brand and Enterprise Holdings, owner and operator of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car, and National Car Rental brands, partnered on the Fiat 500e Pass program, which provides purchasers and lessees of a new 500e up to 12 days of alternate transportation each year for the first three years after the date of purchase.

I mentioned above that I drove both the 500 Turbo and 500e at driving events. I spent a few hundred miles behind the wheel of the Turbo driving from Chicago north to Wisconsin. The Turbo is very responsive with good torque all through the range. Highway passing in 5th gear is very quick. I managed just over 40mpg on my trip north while still driving at 65-70mph highway speeds. The Abarth has 160hp but the Turbo at 135hp might be the better combination for good responsiveness while still getting low fuel consumption. Quite frankly, the Abarth exhaust note stimulates you to always blip the throttle and accelerate with the pedal pushed hard and that eats in to gas mileage.

2013 Fiat 500  (select to view enlarged photo)

A characteristic of EVs is instant torque and the 500e has plenty. Acceleration is very quick and handling is outstanding. At our driving events we autocrossed both models. The EV is no slouch on the track.

Now next in the 500’s evolution is the 500L for those who need a little more room. Look for that soon here on The Auto Channel or visit

© Larry Nutson