2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Smallness Is Its Own Reward

September 13, 2011

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People walk up to us all the time to talk about the Fiat 500. There’s that cuteness thing of course. But as you can tell after a moment or two, it’s also because it’s small.

There’s no visual intimidation. It promises to be cheap. It simplifies, lightens, and makes sensible. It’s smart, not extravagant. It’s efficient, not complicated.

The car is an answer to a question about utility, but it’s also an answer to a question about psychology. And as the smartphones that we hold in our hands every day are telling us, small, cleverly integrated packages make us feel smart and clever ourselves.

The product planners of the car manufacturers seem to be in the business of making things bigger, since their focus groups always check the survey box that indicates a need for more space. But as vehicles as various as the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ have proven to me recently, smallness can be perceived as a virtue, not a handicap.

A lot of people apparently feel the same, since Edmunds.com data indicates that the sales of compact and subcompact cars in the country's top 10 markets have increased between 30 and 70 percent in the last year.

Market

Increase in compact car shopping vs. 2010

Increase in subcompact car shopping vs. 2010

Atlanta

41%

35%

Boston

28%

59%

Chicago

43%

43%

Dallas-Fort Worth

44%

70%

Houston

48%

44%

Los Angeles

37%

58%

New York

38%

60%

Philadelphia

34%

53%

San Francisco

25%

44%

Washington, DC

41%

47%

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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