2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Automatic Gets it Right
August 25, 2011
In our First drive of the Fiat 500 we wrote, "The Aisin six-speed offers AutoStick for manual override and was responsive enough to quell any concerns we may have had about it numbing or damping the little car's verve. Actually, with closer ratio gaps the Aisin might just be better suited to all forms of driving. Still, the light clutch and positive shifter action in the manual-equipped 500 is a pleasure to use, and it isn't too onerous even in heavy traffic." Recently, I finally got to drive a Fiat 500 equipped with the automatic, and while all that above may be true, it failed to mention one thing this transmission got absolutely, undeniably right.....
...They NAILED the layout of the manual gate.
Push forward to downshift (you're braking and thus already feeling motion in that direction) and pull back for an upshift (you're accelerating and already feeling motion in THAT direction.)
Trying to downshift a car by pulling back on a handle while your entire body is being shoved forward sucks and is a silly idea. There's no discussion here. One way is good and natural and promotes fast, efficient, natural shifts. The other way puts the upshift up and the downshift down because the words match.
While a great touch and a perfectly good automatic, this car is so easy to drive with the 5MT, I can't see opting for the auto.
Also, it should be noted that our three-dial climate control system is way better than this digital one. It's hard to beat a three-dial system...
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com