2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test

Miscellaneous


Back to All Long-Term Vehicles


2012 Fiat 500: What's it Worth?

April 26, 2012

Fiat at Carmax.jpg Our 2012 Fiat 500 is nearing the end of its term in our fleet. When selling time arrives, we usually look at Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) and compare that to what we we're offered for a car at Carmax. However, since this car is still relatively new to the U.S. market, there is currently no used pricing data available. Our TMV analysts are working hard to crunch the numbers, but won't have their results ready until the end of next month. We've got the new-car itch, though, and we need to start clearing out some old toys before we can get new ones.

As with the Volt, we went into Carmax with no clue as to what the folks there would offer us for the car. I hazarded a guess of $17,500 based on what similar 500s were being listed for on AutoTrader. Turns out, I was way off the mark.

The pros at Carmax didn't blink an eye when I brought in the 500. I asked them if this was the first Fiat they've appraised and they said no. "People have brought us Fiats that they won in a raffle or on a game show," said the appraiser.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 - 15k

April 24, 2012

fiat_15k.jpg

So our little 500 motored past 15,000 miles this weekend. As it happened during a long highway drive, I was in the middle of the New York Times crossword puzzle when it occurred and I was too distracted to notice.

No, not really.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 15,247 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Not the First to Wear Gucci

April 23, 2012

500 Gucci.jpg

You may have heard (and perhaps you may even want to forget) that there's a Gucci edition of the Fiat 500. When I saw one drive by the other day, it reminded me of two other cars that were touched by the famous Italian clothing/luggage company's hand...

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Art of Badges

April 20, 2012

fiat500_nosebdg.jpg

One thing our 2012 Fiat 500 does really well, whether you consider it important or not, is nail the aesthetic details. Over the months, I've pointed out/harped on various aspects of the driving experience that competitors like the Honda Fit, Mazda 2 and Mini Cooper do better, but none of those cars have badging that's as cool and artistic as the Fiat's.

Every time I walk up the Fiat and get into it, I see these badges and they make me interested to drive the car again. Now, not everyone is going to be as susceptible as I am to the subliminal messaging, but these are great badges nonetheless.

Any other nominees for cars that have really well designed badges?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: It's a Scooter!

April 06, 2012

Lambretta_advertising_collection_uk.jpg

If you don't get what a scooter is about, you'll never get the Fiat 500.

The scooter is Italy. It's just enough and not a bit more. It's convenient, not just useful. It's expressive, but not overbearing. It is simplicity itself, the very same thing that makes you weigh an iPhone in your hand for a moment before you switch it on.

Of course, if the Fiat 500 is really a scooter, no wonder it seems so out of place in the land of the Camaro ZL-1, Harley-Davidson, and suitcase-size sub-woofer.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Mickey Mouse Pedigree

March 30, 2012

1953_Fiat_Topolino_Convertible_double.jpg

Image courtesy of bringatrailer.com

When I pretend to work, I take a breaks after long hours of staring at images on a screen... by staring at other stuff on the screen. Often that takes me to bringatrailer.com. There you can find all kinds of off-beat, interesting cars that people have a strange fascination for.

It was there I saw a 1953 Fiat Topolino 500C Convertible. It's remarkable to see a direct lineage of a vehicle from nearly 60 years ago to our current long term Fiat. It shares a lot of the same shape, dimension, and character. Kind of like a kid having grandpa's nose.

Definitely worth a look with plenty of images. Any fan of Italian automotive history will definitely be happy.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Design Idol

March 28, 2012

fiat bags.jpg

Fiat has its own official merchandise site for those who want to flaunt the brand. But over at the Fab.com, the design-orientated shopping site, there's a whole lot of vintage-design Fiat merch, including the bags you see above, coffee cups, perpetual calendars, smartphone cases and more. I particularly like this arty poster with its evocation of the Italian flag:

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Mall Showroom

March 28, 2012

fiat_mall_1600.jpg Went into my local mall to pick up a new pair of jeans and came across a Fiat showroom. Now that would be some kind of impulse purchase, huh?

Would you go to a mall specifically to buy a new car?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Important! Motor Vehicle Notification

March 27, 2012

fiat_500_important_1600.jpg

A mailer arrived from Chrysler regarding our 2012 Fiat 500 yesterday. We opened the envelope to find an important typed letter and this wrench. At first we thought it was silly. But some research led us to an unfortunate discovery.

First things first. The letter read:

"We are recommending the following improvement be performed on some 2012 model year Fiat 500 vehicles equipped with a power sunroof.

Recommended Service: The sunroof hex wrench for your vehicle's sunroof was inadvertently omitted from the glove box during the vehicle manufacturing process.

What you should do: Please place the sunroof hex wrench, enclosed with this letter, in your vehicle's glove box for use by you or future owners. Refer to your owner's manual for complete details on the use of this hex wrench."

Why the wrench? Well, if for any reason the sunroof malfunctions, you use it to turn a mechanism that will manually operate the sunroof. The slot made to receive this wrench is located immediately to the rear of the window and identified by a plastic tab in the headliner, which is removed for use. That is, unless you car was built as early as ours.

Our car was built March 2011. This means the tab does not exist. Instead, access to the slot requires removing the headliner. I hope we are never in a situation that this needs to happen.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,127 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Rear Hatch Won't Open

March 26, 2012

fiat_500_hatch_1600.jpg

I tried to open the rear hatch of our 2012 Fiat 500 this weekend and it wouldn't budge. After confirming it was unlocked I made a second attempt but with the same result. Various combinations of locking and unlocking the doors failed as well. I resorted to climibing inside and lowering the rear seatbacks to get my stuff out.

About an hour later I returned to the Fiat to try once more. The rear hatch opened perfectly. It did so time and again as if nothing happened. That was weird.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,127 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Great TMZ Abarth Race

March 21, 2012

Fiat 500 TMZ.jpg

Celebrity gossip website and TV show TMZ is popular in our office, and in Los Angeles too. Why? Because everybody loves a good train wreck -- especially with regard to celebrities.

Well guess what? TMZ has a new sponsor: Fiat. And to showcase the 500 Abarth, TMZ will pit two of its staffers, Max (surfer dude) and Peter (The Irish), in a contest driving Abarths in Marina Del Rey, past a group of 25-30 girls. And the winner -- actually, how could there possibly be any losers in this?

Yeah, we know you're busy with your philharmonic tickets and your Mensa meetings. But you'll watch the video of this stunt anyway when I post it next week. Like a Nascar crash, it will be hard to resist.

It may not turn around the 500's fortunes in the U.S, but it will certainly be more interesting than another JLo commercial.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: It Likes Bikes

March 21, 2012

Wart Likes Bikes.jpg

Many cities in the U.S. are working hard to make themselves more bicycle-friendly. Lovely Long Beach, where I live, is one of them. A couple of major streets now have green-painted lanes, reminding drivers that bicycles are vehicles and (in California, anyway) have rights to shared roadways.

There's well-documented tension between bicyclists and motorists, with each group sometimes acting as though they have exclusive rights to the streets. As I drove our Fiat 500 yesterday, I realized what a bike-friendly car it is. Its compact size makes it easy to give bicyclists the 3 feet of clearance they need for safety. There's less chance of a "dooring" incident. And the Fiat is fun for cyclists, too. They finally have a car they can beat from a dead stop at a red light.

Kidding. Only kidding.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @13,986 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: A Nice Pair

March 19, 2012

HUMPS-1600.jpg
Not too far from Casahashi, I had to stop for "supplies." I couldn't help taking advantage of this pair and the street markings. Not strong enough for a caption contest, but feel free to give it a try anyway.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 13,889 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Double Thumbs Up!

March 05, 2012

double_thumbs_up emoticon Bravo.jpg

True story: I was driving around in our long-term 2012 Fiat 500 Sport this weekend and was stopped at a light in Santa Monica. I looked up at the inside mirror and the guy in the car behind me was giving me the double thumbs up (dramatized in the photo below by Borat.)

Granted, the guy was in a Prius, but still...

At first I thought the guy was just messing with me, but he was genuine. This car has been out for almost a year and it still elicits strong positive reactions. Additionally, I don't see too many 500s in car crazy LA, so it's still a bit of a novelty.

Even with its many faults, you can't help but like the Fiat 500. The Fiat 500 really is The Happy Car.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 13,300 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: What Are You Looking At?

March 05, 2012

Fiat-Girl-2.jpg

I drove the Fiat 500 Abarth last week. It was interesting right up until this happened. That's Catrinel Menghia (Marlon). You know who she is.

Fiat hauled her out to give journalists something to gawk at during the Abarth's introduction in Vegas. She was so effective they had to remove her after about five minutes to refocus attention on the car.

It was overwhelming. Car wasn't bad, either.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: House Arrest

March 01, 2012

2012_fiat_500-abarth_group_ns_11112_815.jpg

It seems that many people enjoyed the Fiat 500 Abarth commercial that ran during the Superbowl and the 2011 LA Auto Show. Fiat just released the U.S. follow-up ad for the Abarth.

This new commercial again stars Romanian model Catrinel Menghia. But this time it also features Two and a Half Men. Actually, a former Two and a Half Man.

The commercial shows the Abarth screaming around inside a fancy house, but it's all computer-generated fantasy.

So while the first Abarth commercial was sexy and sophisticated, the new one featuring this Winning actor and CGI trickery is like an Ed Hardy t-shirt.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: It's Big in Texas

March 01, 2012

smallfiat.jpg

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday reported that in Texas, a state whose inhabitants have been known to go big with everything from hair height to food portions, car buyers are skewing small for a change, adding microcars like the 2012 Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper to their garage. In fact Texas is the Fiat 500's third largest market, behind California and Florida.

But before you start imagining the likes of J.R. Ewing and Sgt. Cordell Walker-types driving around in little cars, the article points out that Fiat owners tend to be of the childless Democratic urbanite variety. "...Austin's technology-oriented enclave has an ideal demographic for the pint-size 500. [Fiat of Austin strategy manager Lisa Copeland] polls her clients and has found 75% are Democrats, and 75% don't have children at home." (Wall Street Journal)

Just as well since the Fiat probably doesn't have enough room for J.R. and Walker's 10-gallon hats anyway.

In other news, I have been noticing more and more Fiats out on SoCal roads lately. Yay! My dream of distracted L.A. drivers downsizing from their G-Wagens and Land Rovers may not be a pipe dream after all.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Doing Retro Look Best?

February 29, 2012

fiat500s.jpg

Photo from Fiat USA Facebook page

The other day as I was tooling around in our 2012 Fiat 500, a 2002 Ford Thunderbird with a hardtop pulled out in front of me. I know it's not a popular car with the "cool kids" but I remember when it first came out and how I liked its nod to the first generation of the 'Bird. Naturally that got me thinking about our Fiat's retro look, which I think is a nicely done reinterpretation of the classic. Not as diminutive as the original but you can still see the classic cues in its headlights and sleek, simple style.

But which retro look do you think paid homage to its predecessor the best?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Size Matters

February 28, 2012

fiat 500 wf.jpg

Last night during a trip to the local Whole Foods, the 500 demonstrated why it's a perfect little city car. Easy in and easy out, up and down the narrow ramp leading to the subterranean parking structure.

And parking was effortless -- look at all that room I had available in the store's compact parking spot. In so many situations, small works best for big-city driving.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 13,006 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Fiat Owner <3 Her 500C

February 27, 2012

6814816079_f2faf94b3a_o.jpg

It's always fun to see how much car owners love their daily drivers. Case in point: my friend Jo and her 2012 Fiat 500C.

She bought it wanting to transition to something more fuel frugal than her old Land Rover. And as a fan of all cute things, she briefly debated between the Fiat and the Mini but chose the former because it was "more girly" and because it "looked vintage (colors) but is totally modern." Considering the criteria, I'd say she made the right choice. Above is her 500 with her dog Maxie at the wheel.

Jo has taken a bunch of Instagram shots of her ride, created a photo album for it on her Facebook page and even made a Pinterest board about all things Fiat 500. But I really love how she personalized her car.

Since Jo is a huge foodie, particularly a fan of pork, she has a couple of stuffed animal pigs buckled in the backseat as well as little pig toys hanging from her rearview mirror.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Our Favorite Caption

February 21, 2012

fiat_firecracker=caption.jpg

Thanks to technetium99 for our favorite caption.

Here are the others that lit our fire:

America's two biggest duds. (bmwrxsti)
That thing is going to rip everything Abarth. (questionlp)
The Italian Bomb (ergsum)
I think they're taking the Pop trim a bit too seriously here. (revn)
unMatched performance (snipenet)
Sending Jenny to a far away block. (blueprint1)
Fiat 500 ACME pkg. (blueprint1)
The Rigatoni Rocket (jmk261)
A lot of bang for a few dead presidents! (ergsum)
Fiat 500 alot of BANG for your buck (gsxrbean)
Spaghetti Western (snipenet)
Not all its cracked up to be. (pengwin)
I said that we might dyno test it, not dynamite test it! (ergsum)
Cinquecento meets Ottocento.... (lmbvette)
I remember them being smaller in my day. (aleclance)
Leave the Firecrackers, take the cannolis... (jmk261)
Objects are smaller than they appear. (mnorm1)
FIAT 500 with the new M800 package. Just the thing for explosive acceleration! (zman24)
Catrinel Menghia gets some competition from a redheaded bombshell. (teampenske3)
What does this photo and Donna have in common? They are both Italian bombshells. (ergsum)
If someone lights that fuse, even Tony won't be able to Fix It Again.... (technetium99)
Fire It Again, Tony. (kain77)
Napolean Dynamite meets Napolean BlownAbarth (noburgers)

What was your favorite?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Most Memorable Super Bowl Ad Award Goes To...

February 10, 2012

fiatabarthpopup.jpg

It's been almost a week since all those much anticipated Super Bowl car ads aired for the first time. Which one has stuck with you? (Note: I don't have a TV so don't know how often these are airing on network TV.) Frankly I'm surprised editor Al "Mr. Jennifer Lopez" Austria wasn't all over the Fiat 500 Abarth's Super Bowl ad. I mean, even I thought it was the best ad that aired during the game. Funny, stylish and sexy. Great shoes, supermodel Catrinel Menghia! J-Lo? Feh. By the way, what was Clint Eastwood selling again?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Henry Ford and Mickey Mouse

February 09, 2012

1936_fiat_f34_500a_lt_717.jpg
It’s pretty hard to see the Fiat 500 as anything other than a fashion accessory, lacking only a price tag fluttering from a door handle to be seen as some kind of teen girl’s handbag.

But really what we have here is an answer to a serious question about personal mobility, the thing that all the social scientists are wringing their hands about right now. What the Fiat 500 wants to be is its real self, the original 1936 Fiat Topolino.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Thinking Ahead

February 09, 2012

Fiat500_Test.jpg

As the car sign-out clipboard made its rounds yesterday, I made a very wise decision. I knew I was heading to a housewarming party on a street with limited parking.

I knew I needed something small. Our Sonic was already spoken for, as was the Mazda 3. The Porsche would be a pain to parallel park, and I don't like leaving it on the street, anyway. But the Fiat 500 was available. Score!

What a great little city car this is. I slalomed past slower drivers clogging the boulevards and made a quick recon pass by the party. There was a spot just big enough for the Cinqucento and not much else. Perfect. I would've loved to have pulled an e-brake slide into the spot, but I'm sure that my fellow editors would have frowned upon the flat-spotted rear tires; but what an entrance that would have made.

Nope, the Fiat slipped right into place while other guests kept circling the block like vultures over a kill. Perhaps next time I'll bring the Jeep and just park it on the lawn.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Mondo Fiat, the Backstory

January 25, 2012

2012_fiat_500_bdg.jpg


The story of how Chrysler and Fiat found each other is an interesting one, since it’s not often that two weak companies can combine to create a single stronger one. And whatever shortfall there might have been in the expected sales of the Fiat 500 through Chrysler outlets in the U.S. last year, there’s no question that these two companies are the ones at which all the carmakers are looking, largely because Fiat and Chrysler are in a position where they must take chances, and that’s always instructive.

If you’re looking for greater insight into how this came about, you could dive into Jennifer Clark’s Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty . It’s a terrific story, far more like a novel than the withered business tome you might expect. In fact, it’s a great story about the way the car business has changed over the last century and all the stuff that goes into playing the game.

Clark’s key insight is the way a business that is essentially family-owned like Fiat has the ability to react quickly in the way a typical Wall Street-style publically owned company cannot, and the way even the new entity’s leadership by Sergio Marchionne expresses these values, as the following excerpts suggest:

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: A Welcome Wagon?

January 18, 2012

fiat 500 vf.jpg

The Fiat 500 has been a hit in Europe but sales in the US have been disappointing. In an effort to expose the brand to a wider audience, Fiat plans to expand its domestic lineup. Looks like the next model to roll into dealerships will be a wagon version of the 500.

Fiat's new five-door will first meet its public at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Of course, in following this kind of expansion, Fiat is taking a page out of Mini's playbook; size-wize, the upcoming wagon is expected to echo the Mini Countryman. Fiat hasn't confirmed a name yet, but the model could very well carry the 500 badge.

What do you think? Will a wagon help Fiat build its US audience?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Canine Equivalents

January 18, 2012

FiatDog.jpg

So there we were, sitting at a traffic light with a bucket of fried chicken on my girlfriend's lap. Shuffling across the crosswalk was an older gentleman and his tiny lap dog. Just as they pass the Fiat 500, they both looked over their shoulders at the tiny 500 then keep walking. "That's the dog equivalent of this car," I said. She disagreed. "It should be one of the smoosh-faced yippy dogs," she replied.

"I think I just came up with tomorrow's post," I said triumphantly. Click through to see what I equate the rest of our long-term fleet to...

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Luxury of More Space

January 12, 2012

2012_fiat_500_actf34_ct.jpg

This isn’t a small car at all. It actually creates more space wherever you go.

Every parking spot is one of those wide ones, as if it had been designed for a big rig truck. On the highway, the other cars are miles away in the lane next to you, nowhere close enough to worry about brushing outside mirrors. Other cars don’t even follow too close (except those nitwits in heavy-duty pickups, who try to intimidate everyone with their big grilles).

When you’re driving a small car, seems like you’re always enveloped in an extra large bubble of space. There’s more space, not less. It's the ultimate luxury, and you don’t have to pay extra for it, either.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 11,085 miles.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: A Difficult Year

January 09, 2012

fiat 500 hb.jpg
As far as the US is concerned, the 500 didn't exactly set things on fire sales-wise in 2011. Chrysler's goal was 50,000 units, but the brand moved just 19,769 Fiat 500s in the US last year.

It's a disappointment, no doubt. Still, plans are on track to expand the Fiat dealer network and grow the model line by 2013.

It's reported that Chrysler/Fiat's CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has set more a more modest US sales target for the 500 in 2012: between 25,000 and 35,000 units.

What do you think? Is the 2012 goal reasonable, or still a tad too optimistic?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Bene Formaggio!

January 06, 2012

Formaggio.jpg

Ok, what the heck does cheese have to do with cars? Well, lemme tell you...

Besides my abiding love for all things motorized, I also have an obsession with food and drink. And that's not at all unique, as I've found through the years.

Case in point: The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. It's one of my favorite places on the planet, right up there with Laguna Seca, Big Sur or pretty much anywhere in Italy. I've been fortunate to befriend the owner, Norbert, who turns out to be a bit of a car nut as we all are. Whenever I get a cool car, I make a point to drop by to see how he reacts. Besides Norbert, there are plenty of other car folk to chat up, one of whom set up the Kulinary Mille that I ran in our long-term Mustang.

Last night, I fulfilled a promise to bring by our Fiat 500. When Norbert saw it he had the same reaction that most people do. It's also the same reaction some people have when they see a puppy. "Awwwwwww," he said as he walked towards the car, with his arms outstretched as though he was going to hug it. "Cute as a button," he exclaimed.

Yes, that's a testament to the Cinqucento's appeal. Norbert has had quite the collection of cars, so he knows his stuff. Jaguar XK120s, Healy 3000s, a small-block-Chevy-powered Ferrari 330 GT, a Porsche Speedster and Ural motorcycle with sidecar have all graced his driveway, but he still pines for a 300SL Gullwing. He's our people.

He seemed to genuinely take to our Fiat 500, noting the abundance of interior space and fun and zippy city car character. He also was quite adamant that he'd prefer one of these to a Mini Cooper (current, not the original) any day. And I'm with him on that.

There's something so distinctly charming about the Fiat. To me, and as much as I like Minis, I think they try too hard to be quirky. Of course, we can't wait for the Abarth to arrive, and hopefully I'll get a reaction out of Norbert, as well as some cheese. Ahhhh, cheese. By the way, pictured above is a triple creme Brillat Savarin that I brought into the office this morning. It didn't last long.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: A Look Underneath

January 01, 2012

500_overall.jpg

Here's a look under our long-term Fiat 500 courtesy of our new 2-post Rotary Lift. Fair warning: Covered wagons had more sophisticated rear suspensions.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Car-Shopping With Wart

December 23, 2011

Wart at Audi.jpg
I've been car-shopping this week and have gone from test-drive to test-drive in the Fiat 500. My husband, who is immune to the charms of the car, has taken to calling it the Wart -- something about it being a little red lump. Probably because that's so cruel, I sometimes call it just plain Wart, which is more endearing. It's the name of the scrawny stable boy in T.H. White's "The Sword in the Stone" who turns out to be King Arthur.

I've had fun pulling up at some of the tonier dealerships around town in Wart. Most of the Internet sales guys I've been dealing with haven't seen me arrive in the car, and I told the one who did that I had borrowed it from a friend. I didn't want to imply I'd be trading him in as part of my deal.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: A Three-Star Crash-Test Rating

December 12, 2011

2012 Fiat 500 side impact test.jpg

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has posted its safety rating for the 2012 Fiat 500, and it did not win top marks. The car earned three stars out of a possible five for overall safety. It got four stars for its performance in a frontal crash and four stars for the rollover test.

But the car got just two stars for side-crash performance. Looking over the test scores in more detail, the driver-seat ratings are good: five stars. It's the rear-seat ratings that drag down the car's side-crash score, which comprises two different tests: the side barrier and the side pole.

The test-results notes for the side-barrier rating say this: "Although not included in the star rating, the rear passenger's abdominal rib deflection was elevated." From what I can gather, that means a greater risk of crushing injuries. Perhaps folks here who are well-versed in crash-test protocols could cast some more light on this.

By contrast, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave its Top Safety Pick designation to the 2012 Fiat-- but only those built after July 2011.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: A 500 I Can Get Behind

December 08, 2011

fiat500_crop.jpg
Our longterm 2012 Fiat 500 Sport doesn't do anything for me. But the other day I found a 500 (or perhaps technically not a 500) that does.

Spotted in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles, this is either a Fiat Abarth 695 or a 500 kitted to look like one. Excuse the grainy cellphone photo; the car was in the intersection but for a few seconds.

Anyway, with the 695, Abarth turned the wick up from 18 to 32 horsepower. That's nearly doubling the power to weight ratio! And talk about charm. This car is Jules Winnfield's Arnold-trumping piglet.

The irony is that there's probably nothing that this old Fiat/Abarth objectively does better than the 2012 500, but it sure looks the business. Then again, when closed its roll-top roof no doubt does a better job of shielding the sun than the mesh doily in our 500...

--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Versus Leaf Blower

December 05, 2011

fiat_emissions_test.jpg

How did our long-term Fiat 500 compare in an emissions test against a Ford Raptor and two leaf blowers?

Read Jay's feature article.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Milestone

November 29, 2011

Milestone Banner.jpg

Fiat at 10000.jpg

The Fiat 500 Sport hit the 10,000 mile mark last night. It took a trip to the mall (yuck), Trader Joe's and about 20 minutes of aimless driving around to capture the magical moment, but at least I got to see some nice -- if slightly premature -- Christmas lights along the way.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @10,029 miles.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Recall Notice

November 28, 2011

Fiat recall.jpg

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall today for Fiat 500 vehicles manufactured from Oct. 24, 2011 to Oct. 26, 2011.

"Some vehicles were assembled with contaminated brake fluid and may experience a degradation of the sealing components within the brake system," according to the recall notice, which can be found via safercar.gov or this Office of Defects Investigation landing page. "This could lead to a loss of braking ability, increasing the risk of a crash."

The recall also affects Dodge Journey vehicles built in that two-day period. Some 340 cars total are subject to the recall. The fix is a replacement of all brake components that come into contact with hydraulic brake fluid. Free of charge, of course. NHTSA said the recall will begin in December.

Rather than wait, I called Chrysler to see if we were unlucky enough to own one of the recalled cars. Armed with the VIN, a pleasant Chrysler customer service rep checked while I listened to "Tracks of My Tears."

She came back with good news: Our car is in the clear.

(As our astute commenters have pointed out, we bought our Fiat last spring, so unless we have a Wayback Machine downstairs, our Fiat would not have been affected by a recall for cars built in October. This writer pleads stupidity or temporal displacement. Maybe both.)

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @9,948 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Gym Rats Want One

November 27, 2011

trainer wants it.jpg
Today, I parked the Fiat 500 Sport in front of the storefront gym where I punish myself a couple times a week. (That's one of Long Beach's site-specific bike racks in the photo). The car set off a conversation between my trainer and one of his other clients. They both like the Fiat 500 and appreciate its inherent Italian-ness. They're rooting for its success in the U.S. and pooh-poohed the notion that it was only for women, J.Lo advertising notwithstanding. "Nah," they said. "That's just marketing."

Excellent, I thought to myself. Here's first-hand proof that men and Fiat 500 are not natural enemies. Because these are guy-guys. One-more-rep, what-a-gorgeous-girl, what-a-great-game-Alabama-played kind of guys.

But as they talked, the conversation turned to mods they'd like to see on the car. How you could make it a little racier. Stripe it, and maybe put some fat tires on it. A little more power, if necessary. Before I knew it, they were building an Abarth.

I told them that the real Fiat 500 of their dreams was coming soon.That it had a scorpion badge was the icing on the cake. They smiled like maniacs.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @9,917 miles.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: That Didn't Take Long

November 22, 2011

bed of thorns.jpg

Yesterday, Al Austria noted that Fiat is having dismal sales here in the U.S. Hours later, the company announced that it's replacing Laura Soave, the head of Fiat in North America, with Timothy Kuniskis, a veteran Chrysler marketeer.

It will be interesting to see what difference -- if any -- a change at the top of the U.S. leadership makes in the 500's fortunes.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @9,791 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Not Selling as Well as Hoped

November 21, 2011

Fiat 500 Rear.jpg

The Fiat 500 is not selling as well as Chrysler-Fiat had envisioned. It was reported last week in Automotive News that since sales began in March, only 15,826 were sold through October. That figure falls well below the 50,000 unit annual figure that Chrysler-Fiat had hoped for.

In order to start moving the 500, Fiat began offering a $500 cash rebate this month. But that may come too late for workers already furloughed at the Dundee, MI Fiat 500 engine plant.

Additionally, permanent Fiat stores (separate from Chrysler dealers) have been slow to open due to the big dealer investment. Some dealers think the 500 should be less expensive considering its small size.

In spite of the JLo TV ads that run around the clock, Frenchman Olivier Francois, global head of the Fiat brand, said "I don't think we have a car problem; people love the car. I think we have an awareness problem." Hmmmm...

What can you do to help? You can buy a Fiat 500, of course!

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~9,800 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Il Mio Colore Preferito

November 11, 2011

fiat500_mocha_latte Don't get me wrong, I like the zippy look of our Fiat 500 in Rosso. But Mocha Latte is my favorite hue for the teeny Italian hatchback. It looks creamier in person, for some reason. I feel like it should come with a biscotti on the side.

What color would you paint yours?

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 9,615 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: I'd Buy the Convertible

November 08, 2011

500 r34.jpg

I'm a sunroof guy though and through. I use it every day. It's the one option box I'd tick on any new car I was thinking about buying. If I were having a tough time deciding between two cars, I'd probably pick the one with the sunroof.

Not so with our 2012 Fiat 500. Sure, it has the $850 sunroof option, it's just that it's not very good.

The first problem, as we've talked about before is the little curtain that acts as a makeshift sunshade. It's not very attractive and it lets the heat from the big dark glass thing on the roof bleed straight onto the top of your head. Fun.

Next, the sunroof takes up a lot of space. Riswick barely fits and if I try to drive it down Wilshire, I'm hitting my head on the roof at every bump.

Finally, when you open it, the pop-up air deflector makes more noise at city speeds than it prevents. Annoying.

Thankfully, the convertible fixes all of these problems.

There's headroom. Lots of it.

The roof is made of a thick canvas that doesn't let light or head in.

When you retract the roof, the pop-up air deflector has a small latch so you can attach it in the down position for low-speed motoring, or pop it up for highway stuff.

And finally, it's not really a convertible. The roof rails still stay fixed so this is more like a $3,000 giant panoramic sunroof. I like panoramic sunroofs.

Sure, removing most of the roof has some downsides: It's a little less stiff, a little creakier, rear visibility isn't great and doesn't quite have as much storage space. For what I'd want this little car for, that won't bother me.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Named Hottest Hatch at 2011 SEMA Show

November 02, 2011

fiat_SEMA_1600.jpg

Congrats to the Fiat 500 as it has been named the hottest sport compact car at this week's 2011 SEMA Show.

SEMA said the awards were designed to point consumers toward the "most accessory-friendly vehicles on the market."

Hmmmm, what should we do to our long-term 500?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 9,437 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Forza Challenge

November 01, 2011

FiatForza.jpg

It's been a while since I fired up Forza 4. I blame Batman Arkham City and Battlefield 3 for my protracted absence. As I tried to avoid the Halloween madness in my neighborhood last night, I decided to see what's been going on in the Edmunds.com Forza Club. I was pleased to see a flurry of activity among 18 members and 40 cars in the garage (if only we had a Veyron in our real long-term fleet).

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Floorboards Reinstalled

October 31, 2011

Pebbles-1600.jpg
This weekend, Pebbles needed a ride to the costume party. For some inexplicable reason, our Fiat 500 seemed strangely appropriate. Does the long-term fleet have something more appropriate?

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 9,283 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Cute Little Hood Support

October 27, 2011

2012_500_Fiat_prop_rod.jpg

Like it or not, nearly every aspect of our 2012 Fiat 500 can be described as cute and/or little, as in, "That's a cute little car."

Or, "Look at the cute little hood support. Awww."

It works way better when my 12 year-old daughter says it.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 9,187 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Enthusiast Approved

October 19, 2011

72 bmw 3.0 cs.jpg

Parked the 500 behind this nice BMW 3.0 CS while grabbing lunch today. Of course I had to check it out as I've always loved the timeless, elegant style of these fine grand touring hardtop coupes.

As I was taking this cell-phone shot of it, the owner approached and the car guy chit-chat ensued.

"Is this beauty yours?"

"Yes, it's an oldie but a goodie".

"I'll say. It's a really nice CS. Is it a '72 or '73?"

"'72"

As I peered into the cabin I noticed it was an automatic (bummer!) with A/C and power windows. It was sporting red leather upholstery with a healthy number of cracks. He was somewhat apologetic for the cabin's less than Concours-level condition.

"I have to do some interior work on it. But I drive it all the time."

"I'd take it just the way it sits. That's great you drive it -- it'd be a waste for such an enjoyable machine to be just a garage queen."

Right before he climbed into the Bimmer he paused, and while looking at the 500 said:"That's a nice car too. I rent them every time I go to Rome!"

And with that we parted ways, both in full agreement about two classic European models.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 8,879 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Crash Test Videos

October 18, 2011

Fiat 500 crash vid.jpg

Earlier today we brought you the news that 2012 Fiat 500s made after July of 2011 (ours was made well before this cutoff) score a Top Safety Pick rating by the IIHS. There were a number of cool photos, but videos weren't available at the time.

Now they are! Enjoy.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: IIHS Top Safety Pick...But Ours Isn't

October 18, 2011

CEF1108_03.jpg

Good news: The 2012 Fiat 500 has scored an IIHS Top Safety Pick award. The minicar scored a Good in front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests and has ESC as standard. It is the only minicar besides the Ford Fiesta to earn the award.

Bad news: It only applies to cars built after July 2011. We bought ours in April of 2011. Cars built before August of 2011 get only a marginal score in front offset test results. Accord to the IIHS, Fiat modified the driver seat structure to improve occupant protection.

So much for all of the people who were early adopters...

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: JLo's World, The Bronx, and Detroit

October 12, 2011

Fiat 500 Bronx.jpg

The new Fiat 500 commercial "My World" starring Jennifer Lopez debuted a few days ago.
It features JLo driving the 500 back to her old neighborhood, The Bronx.

The ad is trying to tell the story of her getting back to her roots to find the source of her inspiration. And maybe not so coincidentally, this JLo ad is very similar to the Fiat sister company 2012 Chrysler 300 commercial, "If You're Gonna." This one features some guy driving the streets of Detroit to the sounds of Jay-Z, showing the pride and character exhibited by The Motor City. I really like both of these ads.

But instead of going home and getting back to The City's roots, the 300 goes through some ritzy suburbs (including Birmingham) and ends up -- at some fancy lake house.

Perhaps this guy finds inspiration in his boat.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Did You Know...

October 10, 2011

fiat 600.jpg

...that there was a Fiat 600? Yes, the 500 had a "bigger" (hey, it's all relative) brother that was introduced in 1955 and produced through 1969. The 600 was about 10 inches longer and, at about 1,300 pounds, weighed 200 pounds more than the 500 made during that time. Unlike that old 500 which was air-cooled, the 600 was water cooled and its 633 cc (yes, that's 0.63 liter) inline four cranked out a thundering 21 horsepower.

Although it was very popular (some 2.5 million were produced) it didn't achieve the cult status (nor the rebirth) of the 500. Maybe styling had something to do with it...

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ ~ 8,850 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Style. By Gucci.

October 03, 2011

Fiat 500 Gucci.jpg

The house of Gucci is revered around the world, known for fashion -- and handbags. Oh, I know you're gonna be devastated that this post isn't about handbags.

It's about the new Fiat 500 by Gucci. If the regular 500 doesn't have enough style, or if you love luxury brands and like to flaunt it, maybe this is for you.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the JLo video of her driving the Gucci machine.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: They're Everywhere

September 30, 2011

Fiat 500 Everywhere.jpg

I'm seeing the Fiat 500 everywhere. OK, so maybe not in the frequency they were in the above segment of Top Gear, but in the last three weeks I've been seeing a whole heap of 500s both here in Los Angeles and in Toronto. Sure, the 500's going to stick out a lot more than the countless brand-new Corollas that no doubt drove by me in the same period of time, but August sales back up the notion that the little Fiat isn't a bust. The 500 had double the sales of the Mini Cooper.

I wonder, however, if the 500 will be able to sustain its success over the long term as Mini has over the course of a decade. Or, will it fall out of favor once its hip factor declines (see Beetle) or when a limited number of potential customers finally get their car (see Thunderbird or Smart).

If I were a betting man, I'd say it'll go the way of the Mini with two qualifiers: It doesn't prove to be woefully unreliable and they come out with different variants to keep things fresh (cough, Abarth).

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,640 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Reaching Out to the Ladies

September 28, 2011

2012_fiat_500_tag_ns_927112_717.jpg
When you spot a 2012 Fiat 500 on the road, is there a man behind its wheel or a woman? Just curious. Not that it matters, of course. It's just that the automaker seems to be kicking its marketing-toward-women into high gear.

Apparently that JLo ad we (OK, I) thought was a sure way to turn off female consumers is actually a big hit with the ladies as consideration for the brand went up 31 percent since the ad's debut on September 12 during ESPN's Monday Night Football. Yes, more women are watching football.

From AutoObserver:

"On the surface, Fiat's decision to make a heavy ad buy during NFL games is a curious move for a car that it's almost universally agreed has a particular appeal for female buyers. But a deeper look at NFL audiences shows that women are tuning in to football at all-time high numbers."

Not only that, yesterday Fiat launched a limited-edition Pink Ribbon 2012 Fiat 500 to benefit the Breast Cancer Research foundation. 250 cars are being sold for $22,500 each with $1,000 from each purchase going toward the foundation. (Any way to raise breast cancer awareness is a good thing so hooray for that.)

Personally, I'd like to forget the whole JLo ad thing happened (even though apparently Fiat is coming out with two more ads, with the next one coming out next month) and go back to liking the car again.

Wasn't the car's cute style enough to appeal to women?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Presidential Traffic Jam

September 27, 2011

fiat_prf_1600.jpg

President Obama is in Los Angeles, which means I am not. Nothing against Mr. Obama, but his visits to Southern California wreak havoc on our already ridiculous traffic patterns.

So the Fiat 500 and I are cooling our wheels and heels at the beach today, staying home, and outta the fray.

Hey, maybe the President should come to town more often...

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 8,565 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: JLo Approved

September 16, 2011

JLo.jpg

It's no secret that a favorite artist of myself and Automotive Editor Dan Frio is Jennifer Lopez.

JLo (my future ex-wife) just went through a terrible divorce. So she has celebrated her independence by making a Fiat 500 commercial.

Why would mega-wealthy JLo need to resort to such a thing? Remember: Marc Anthony is taking half -- of everything.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Smallness Is Its Own Reward

September 13, 2011

smartphonearray.jpg

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

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Disappointing Dudes Since 2011

September 09, 2011

2012_fiat_500_actf34_lt_419112_1600.jpg

Some time ago, Takahashi went on a rant about the low CDI rate for our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Part of this can be attributed to it being driven by Mark Takahashi, part of it is because only males between 45 and 70 seem to have any interest in the car.

But there's a darker theme here on the D(dudes)DI side of things: They are constantly disappointed that I am not an attractive (presumably) young lady.

Drive the Fiat 500 through L.A. for more than 20 minutes and you'll get two kinds of stares: The first is from older guys who dig Fiats. Mostly all car guys. Usually driving something cool, but quirky. The second type, though, that's the problem. These are young males between 16 and 35, often driving base BMWs with automatics or third-hand Mercs or Lexus SUVs and always wearing Oakley or Prada shades.

They roll up slowly, even if their line of traffic is going well, and are leering at the Fiat when they get side-by-side. And then you see their face sink as they hurry past as if they were expecting something other than an unshaved guy in a hoodie and, frankly, disappointed by the scene.

::shrug:: I think I look sharp in the car.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 vs. 2012 Mini Cooper: August Sales Showdown

September 06, 2011

fiat 500 mini cooper.jpg
One has a wider and more established dealer network but the other has newness and a lower price tag on its side. I'm talking, of course, about the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500.

Which model do you think was the bigger seller last month? The answer may surprise you.

August 2011 Sales

Fiat 500: 3,106

Mini Cooper Hardtop: 1,569
Mini Cooper Convertible: 434

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 7,742 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Errand Buddy

September 06, 2011

fiat_target_1600.jpg

Forget Fiat 500, I shall call this car, Errand Buddy.

Because for whipping around town, making multiple stops, loading groceries and other small purchases in and out of the rear hatch, it just doesn't get any easier than my new Errand Buddy.

The Fiat 500 has everything I need for a busy day of local runs. And best of all, since not even an 11-year-old wants to climb repeatedly in and out of the back seat, I get to do the errands all by myself.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 7,743 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Mid-Lifers Prefer Funky Over Flashy?

August 29, 2011

fiat500porsche.jpg
When I was in a PetCo parking lot loading up our 2012 Fiat 500's trunk with dog diapers and dog food, a 50-something gentleman approached me asking if that was the new 500.

He then proceeded to tell me his story. That he loves the fun look of the 500 but his wife won't let him get one because it's too small. He currently drives a GMC Yukon XL but since his kids went off to college he doesn't need a car that big anymore. "How's the gas mileage?" "How does it compare to the Mini?" "Is it fun to drive?" "Is there enough room in the backseat for passengers?" Needless to say, I tried to answer all his questions. "It's cheaper than the Mini and doesn't drive as well but still pretty fun. Decent gas mileage. My parents can fit in the backseat but not too much space for tall people."

But this encounter reminded of something editor Mark Takahashi and I talked about when discussing his Fiat's CDI post (that old men seem to be the ones attracted to the 500 the most) as well as what commenter firstwagon pointed out in James Riswick's recent Juke post: that nowadays older people are going for the funkier cars. Am I jumping the gun in thinking that means we can say good-bye to sports cars as the default choice for those suffering from "mid-life crisis"? Are they now choosing funky over sporty and/or flashy looks in an attempt to recapture their youth?

When faced with the above choices, which car would make you feel young again?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Dictator-Friendly Options?

August 24, 2011

fiatlibya1.jpg

Photo by Sergey Ponomarev/Associated Press

This Associated Press photo of rebels pushing a Fiat 500 in Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi's compound in Libya popped up on New York Times' Wheels Blog. Wait, HE drives one?

It looks like a seriously customized one. OK, no doors seems like a bad idea for a dictator. HATE the color scheme. Jade and gold? Ew. But I wish there were shots of the interior. Curious to see what sort of features a dictator favors. Electronic Tracking Vehicle System, Autonet Wifi? Any other guesses? (By the way, is that rebel really wearing flip-flops instead of more protective footwear?)

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Shaking Fist at You, LA

August 22, 2011

2012_fiat_500_actr34_lt_419111_717.jpg

Warning: Generalizations and grumpy language ahead.

Driving our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport reminds me of Paris since I saw a number of 500s there buzzing like mad around the city. And in Paris, each vehicle danced around each other with such speed and amazingly never crashed; controlled chaos.

Unfortunately, in L.A. we could never hope to drive that way. Even though our city is a car culture, we don't take driving all that seriously. And driving the 500 in rush-hour traffic just pissed me off that we don't. Especially when it seems like traffic could be eased a bit if folks simply paid attention. Then I wouldn't have to work so hard to get home in a timely manner.

A lot of you probably feel this way, too, in your respective areas but it's frustrating feeling like you're one of a very few people in a huuuge city that pays attention while behind the wheel. Just looking around at other drivers during the commute I see folks texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, chatting with their passengers, sightseeing, putting on makeup (!), taking curlers out of their hair (wha-?!) ...and this is when the traffic is MOVING. How about just keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, people?

Since traffic seems worse in the evening, I seriously believe that they check out when they get on the road after work because maybe it was a long day and they don't feel like thinking anymore. So why not just slowwwly make their way to the far left lane so they don't have to contend with merging traffic, they seem to say to themselves. Argh!

In any case, it really makes it hard to enjoy driving a go-kart like the Fiat...or any car for that matter. /rant

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Low CDI Index?

August 19, 2011

Fiat500RedBkrd.jpg

Every now and then I find myself driving a car that seems to catch the eye of random females. Now, I don't keep a constant eye out for ladies checking out whatever car I'm driving, but situational awareness does sometimes cue me in that someone is indeed interested in it, and sometimes someone would strike up a conversation at a stoplight or parking lot. I was convinced that our Fiat 500 would be as irresistible to females as a basket full of puppies, but instead, it seems that our chili-red Cinquecento is as appealing to them as a Jackass marathon on MTV. What gives?

My girlfriend used to have a Mini Cooper S, so I figured the 500 would at the very least elicit a, "oooo, cute!" But no, she thought it was ugly. This began the drop of the needle on the CDI (chicks dig it) index. But it's not like I care, because I happen to like our Fiat. It reminds me if Italy, I think it's smartly styled and it's fun to drive.

Cars that rank high on the CDI index include the Audi S5, Audi R8, Kia Optima (seriously), Lotus Elise, our 2005 Corvette Z06, an S63 AMG and pretty much any Porsche 911. The biggest draw is still my 1957 Thunderbird. Even our Nissan Juke managed to turn a few heads and get a few smiles (though perhaps for different reasons).

I ran my Fiat 500 observations past Caroline and she looked at me as if I had three heads, and each of them were spouting gibberish. She said that it manages to draw a crowd sometimes and there's no shortage of female gawkers, but I have yet to witness this. In fact, my experiences have drawn more dudes (DDI index?), and older ones, at that. I don't get it. Perhaps I lost my mojo? No, wait, Magrath has had similar tales to mine, but I'll let him explain on his own.

In the end, it doesn't matter because I'm going to keep driving this car and enjoying it. But these observations are a bit curious, no?

I encourage our female commenters to chime in. Feel free to also list your high and low CDI (or DDI) picks.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Movie Star

August 18, 2011

Fiat- Oscar 1.jpg

I'm a movie lover, and Caroline's recent post about Fiat's plans to have drive-in events to showcase the Fiat 500 had me wondering whether the car played a role in the 1960 Federico Fellini film "La Dolce Vita," which Fiat evokes in various ways in its advertising and marketing. Yes, as it turns out. The Fiat 1100 Familiare, the 405 and the 500 B all appeared in the film (in minor roles).

How do I know this? It's not my keen eye for classic Fiats. The credit goes to IMCDB.org: the Internet Movie Cars Database. The Fiat 500 (old and new) has gotten a lot of screen time over the years. Above is a shot of a 1960 Fiat 500 from the classic (?) 1967 film "Oscar."

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Perspective

August 16, 2011

smart_fiat_2_1600.jpg

The Fiat 500 seems really small.

Until you're reminded how big it really is.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 6,965 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Nitpicking the Key Fob

August 15, 2011

fiat 500 kf.jpg
Which one of these key fobs would you rather be holding on a dark night?

The one to the left obviously belongs to our Fiat 500. Love the classy-looking Fiat logo but I'm not a fan of the body-colored labeling that's impossible to read after dark. The one to the right belongs to our VW Jetta TDI, and it's labeled in a way that makes it easy to read both day and night.

I've learned to memorize the placement of the buttons whenever I'm with the Fiat (as most owners would). Still, there are times when I reflexively find myself looking at the fob for guidance, and if it's dark outside, glancing at the small chunk of black plastic in my hand provides no help whatsoever.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Perfect for the Drive-In?

August 12, 2011

fiat500rearshot.jpg

Fiat will be kicking off what I think is a brilliantly fun marketing campaign tomorrow: multi-city film events with the 2012 Fiat 500 providing the seating. On August 13 and 14 in New York's Central Park, movie goers will be treated to a double feature from the seats of 36 2012 Fiat 500 and 500 Cabrio models. Naturally the event will also have bocce ball, espresso and gelato to further enhance that la dolce vita experience. Love it!

The campaign is meant to get people to take a closer look at the Fiat 500 and clear up any misperceptions they have about small cars. "The best way to show people is to 'show people.' They're surprised to find there's a lot of space and to see the quality of finishes like leather and all the other content in the vehicle," said Head of Fiat brand North America Laura Soave (via AdWeek).

At least here there won't be any "Hey! Down in front!" issues.

The Fiat outdoor screenings will hit Chicago on August 19-21, Miami August 26-28 and Los Angeles September 3-5.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Brightens the Day

August 11, 2011

fiat_500_1600.jpg

(Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres)

The 2012 Fiat 500 makes people smile. I don't know if they are laughing with me or laughing at me. But even if just for a moment, the 500 puts people in a better mood. I like that about it.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Day After the Day After

August 10, 2011

fiat500_stokes1.jpg

Today we picked our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport up from Stokes Tire Pros in Santa Monica. You immediately notice the new left front tire, as its edges aren't yet pounded to a partial pulp like the right front tire (no disrespect to the lagoon here, rather an inevitability when there's a small, Italian hatch in the fleet).

The replacement cost for one Continental ContiProContact, size 195/45R16 84H, was right in line with Warren's estimate -- $145.95, which came to $163.45 with tax.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Day After

August 09, 2011

fiat 500 flat.jpg

The Fiat 500 is available with an optional spare tire. In U.S. models, the spare is stored not in the cargo area, but under the rear of the vehicle.

Our car has no spare, so the morning after its tangle with the black lagoon, I make arrangements to have it towed to Stokes, our go-to tire shop.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport Vs. The Black Lagoon

August 08, 2011

fiat 500 pothole.jpg
They say that sameness every day does your brain no favors. Something as simple as taking a new route home can help improve mental functioning by guiding you to use more of your mind.

New routes might be great for your brain but last night I discovered they can be hell on your tires.

1: A Dark Turn

It's Sunday night at about 9:15. The Walgreens nearby is out of bottled water. I'm okay with that -- I'll get the water tomorrow. But then I change my mind and decide to get it at Ralph's. By then I've missed the turn on Pico, the street I usually take. So I head to the grocery store via a different, unfamiliar route -- I make a quick left on Whitworth and drive a few blocks before making another left on La Peer.

La Peer is bathed in shadows and the pavement is wet even though it hasn't been raining. The darkness of the street plus all the water on the road conspire to provide the perfect hiding place for a gang of potholes, which lie in wait, like snakes concealed by tall grass. I travel just a few feet past the intersection when I feel it -- the awful jolt you feel when rim hits crater.

I'm not going very fast, under 15 miles per hour -- this takes place on a residential street and the ruts are so close to the intersection that there isn't time to gather speed after the turn. Still, the impact feels cruel and tremendous.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Old and New

August 03, 2011

Fiat500_oldNew.gif

I knew the original Fiat Cinquecento was smaller than the new 500. I just didn't realize how big of a margin existed until I tossed this animation together this morning. Overall, the original is about 20% smaller.

At 5'10", our Fiat 500 fits me just fine. I can't imagine I'd be able to find an acceptable amount of comfort in the old one. And can you imagine Riswick in the old Cinquecento? I suppose he could open up that ragtop and drive with his head above the roof. Then again, I could also see him strapping one to each of his feet and using them as roller skates (wait, I think I need to Photoshop that).

Does anybody out there have any experience in the original Fiat Cinquecento? Please let us know how accommodating the interior is (or isn't).

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Howard Chooses a Fiat

August 02, 2011

Howard Lee Collage 1.jpgOur Stephen Lee does his duty in the Vehicle Data department at Edmunds.com. He’s restoring a 1973 Innocenti Mini 1001, the version of the BMC Mini built under license in Italy, so we weren’t surprised when he went wild for the 2012 Fiat 500. But the big surprise came when we learned that his father had been thinking about shopping for one, as Lee tells us in a description of their adventure below:

Certain occurrences take place in our world regularly but infrequently. Halley’s Comet makes an appearance every 75 years or so. Fashion trends recycle about every 15. And now for the first time in 20 years, my father Howard plans to purchase a new vehicle.

Although neither celestial nor cosmopolitan, my father’s decision to buy a new car is monumental in its own right. First, Howard is a man who makes purchases based on necessity, not whim. Second, he doesn’t need a new car, since he’s been retired for twenty years, owns a pristine, low-mileage 1991 Mazda MPV, and prefers to use public transportation in San Francisco, where he lives.

Imagine my surprise when he expressed genuine interest in the new Fiat 500 and asked me to take him to a dealership. As a car enthusiast with a bigger wish list than budget or common sense, I immediately obliged while trying to hide my enthusiasm.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Fiat Launches 'Simply More' Ad Campaign

August 01, 2011

Fiat 500 more.jpg

Fiat has just launched its first advertising campaign since returning to North America and the new tagline is "Simply More."

The first television commercial for the new Simply More tagline is set to air today and has been posted on YouTube for your convenience. The ad "Drive in" features an Elvis tune, Jailhouse Rock, which was released the same year , 1957, as the Fiat 500 in Europe. Apparently Fiat finds this interesting as they've taken special care to point it out in a press releases. Whatever, the ad is, as you'd expect for a Fiat 500 commercial, pretty fun.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Word to the Wise

August 01, 2011

2012_fiat_500_shifter_ft_304111_1600.jpg

As you can see in this photo taken by Kurt Niebuhr, the Fiat 500's five-speed manual transmission has its Reverse gate situated way off to driver's right. There's also a pull-up ring to "unlock" the R gate. And you need a deliberate hand and, often, a teensy bit of throttle to avoid a slight grinding as you ease into reverse.

This arrangement is slightly unusual among U.S.-market econoboxes, and upon leaving the car with a valet at a local Italian restaurant on Friday night, Michael Jordan and I realized some preliminary instruction might be prudent.

GRAUNCH!

... was what we heard 5 seconds after turning to our back to the car. I rushed back over, eyes wild, and ostensibly, the loud unhappy noise was the result of the valet not having pulled up the ring, maybe? Although (perhaps flustered by the sight of my waving arms), he also seemed not to be pushing in the clutch pedal and I had to remind him to do that, too. Eeek! He apologized immediately.

Still, when we picked up the car after dinner, I said, no, no, no need to bring the car around for us, we'll drive it out from here. It was a small lot, and the car was sitting 50 feet away, so no one raised a fuss.

And this incident reminded of why I usually try to self-park, street-park, whatever-park cars I really like (even if it means walking an extra 10 miles to a Vegas hotel room). Any other valet avoiders out there? Surely, you must be aching to share stories of incredible efforts you've made to keep your car out of the valet lock-up.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,318 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Over 150 Mopar Accessories Now Available

July 28, 2011

2012 Fiat500 bra.jpg

There are a number of ways to make a cute car less cute. Crashing it into a wall is a terrible way to accomplish the task, buying accessories to toughen it up, however, is a good way.

Take this new car-bra offered by Mopar, it takes the normally cute Fiat 500 and turns it into Hannibal Lecter.

It's one of over 150 options available for the Fiat from MOPAR that include (deep breath in): Roof and Hood graphics in U.S., Canadian, Italian and Mexican flags as well as a variety of race stripes and checkered and striped graphics ($319 - $534); Body-side graphics in a range of colors ($409 - $439); Body-side molding inserts $99; Roof Rack ($399); Bike carriers for the roof rack ($116) or hitch mounted ($99 for the receiver and $192 for the Carrier); UCONNECT Web ($399); Seat Covers, Slush mats, Chrome Shift Knob, Chrome Fuel door....and on and on and on.

One cool option is a $48 key fob cover. No idea why every manufacturer doesn't these in colors, but it's about time.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Spotted In The Wild

July 27, 2011

fiat 500 doppelganger1.jpg
So I had my first Fiat 500 sighting a couple of days ago, near Fairfax and Wilshire. The car was red, the same color as our test car. It was being driven by a tall, burly guy who looked like he could have been a high school football coach or a contractor.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Behind the Scenes of a Photo Shoot

July 22, 2011

fiat500shoot.JPG
Editor Warren Clarke already compared the 2012 Fiat 500 to the Mini in a previous post but stay tuned for a comparison test between these two cute rivals. We took them up to some twisty roads in Malibu for a photo shoot last night. I'll save my impressions for the test, which is going to be written by our talented Erin Riches, but took some shots of our Fiat looking model perfect and at home in the hills.

Erin tidying up the Fiat's rear wheel for the photo.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Add a Zero

July 18, 2011

Fiat_5000.jpg

FiatOdo.JPG While out on our annual Fuel Sipper Smackdown, our beloved Fiat Cinquecento hit cinquemille miglia. I'm guessing it hit the milestone right after we departed Southern California, somewhere in the desolate landscape of Death Valley. That fun little Photochop above was Mike Schmidt's idea, and I thought it was brilliant.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Our Favorite Caption

July 08, 2011

fiat_500_2bustween_caption.jpg

Thanks to kain77 for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that make us giggle:

An amazing Fiat of autobatics! (ergsum)
The Italian Parking Job (ergsum)
And now, for the side impact test (jcotov)
Some Italian guy came in here with two big British heavies the other day. (hybris)
The Fiat 500 was customized with twin tourbus. (ergsum)
Tourin' Turin (aleclance)
Parallel parking: You're doing it wrong. (aleclance)
Unlike the buses, the Fiat is not labeled which color it is so we are going to assume it's green (rr811)
Hey, it FIATS! (wshuff)
They've got me comin' and goin'. (ed124c)
This is what happens when you park in two spots. (shaddai)
European's are always easier to talk into a 3-way (rayray633)
Park Assist Fail (noburgers)
Designed for the autostraddle (rotaryboff)
I like big buses and I cannot lie! (teampenske3)
Does the Fiat fit? (teampenske3)
Cinqueronized Parking (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select any of the items in my prize drawer:

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: You Write the Caption

July 08, 2011

fiat_500_2bustween_1600.jpg

Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt, my endless font of caption contest photos, sent me this picture of our Fiat pretending to be a sandwich, er I mean, panini.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: The Happy Car

July 07, 2011

Fiat 500 Thumbs Up.jpg

True story: I was driving home last night on surface streets and stopped at an intersection to make a left turn. This guy in an oncoming black Benz CLK stuck his arm out the window and was looking at me.

"WTH is your problem, pal?"
I thought to myself. As he drove by I realized that he was smiling and giving me the Thumbs Up, just because I was driving our long-term 2012 Fiat 500.

The 500 seems to impart happy feelings to other drivers who just love the cuteness of it.
Perhaps there hasn't been a happy car like this since the new Beetle came out in 1998.

Is the Fiat 500 also fun to drive? Oh, hell no.
But if it gives the owners and other drivers happy feelings, then there's nothing wrong with that.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 4,500 miles
Thumb courtesy of Ron Montoya

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: So How's It Selling?

July 05, 2011

FT012_006FH.jpg
Pair an affordable price tag with Euro charm and you can come up with something that's hard to resist -- just ask anyone who's fallen for the Fiat 500, and as such, I'd expected the car to be all over Los Angeles by now. But I haven't seen as many on the roads as I'd anticipated, and the fact that people still do double takes when they spot our crimson Fiat is testimony to the fact that the little subcompacts are still a relatively rare sight.

Nationwide, though, the 500 is off to a decent start, despite a dealer network that still has a whole lotta growing to do.

June Sales
Fiat 500: 1,803
Mini Cooper: 2,487 (hardtop), 505 (convertible)
Mazda 2: 1,081
Ford Fiesta: 5,535

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: And So It Begins

June 27, 2011

2012_fiat_500_hotfiat-3.jpg

While blundering around in the fog just after dawn at Cars and Coffee on Saturday, we had our first sighting of a Fiat 500 hot rod. Apparently HotFiat.com just went into business about 15 minutes ago (in May, actually), and if the Web site is any guide, we'll soon be seeing more Fiat hot rods on the road.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Reasonably Authoritative Horn

June 22, 2011

fiat 500 horn.jpg
I was waiting to make a left turn at an intersection with a left-turn light. The light turned green. There was one car in front of me, and the guy behind the wheel was looking down and didn't notice that the light had changed. No biggie -- it happens, and I'm probably more patient than most.

But after a moment or so, it seemed like he could use a gentle reminder to get a move on. So I lightly tapped on the Fiat 500's horn.

It was my first time using the horn. The 500 is such a cutesie car I kinda figured its horn would sound cutesie as well. A high-pitched little chirp. A reedy, cheerful toot. A playful, lighthearted beep.

But the horn sounds more dignified and authoritative than I'd expected. There's enough low end there to give it some meat.

Now, I'm not saying it sounds like it belongs in a truck or anything, but it's full-bodied enough to communicate your intentions with a certain amount of urgency.

And that's a good thing, when you want someone to look up and get moving at a green light.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 3,930 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Squeak, Squeak

June 21, 2011

fiat 500 a.jpg

The bad news is that our 500 has come down with a mysterious squeak. It appears to originate from the front passenger seat or thereabouts.

The good news is that it's audible only at very low speeds. Once the speedo climbs higher than 15 mph or so, the squeak gets drowned out by the 500's engine and tire noise.

Since I brought it up, engine and tire noise is noticeable, but not severe. In fairness, there aren't too many cars in this price range that can claim to have a truly quiet cabin.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Easiest to Park

June 21, 2011

Fiat500Casahashi.jpg

Every now and then I'll note how easy a car is to park in my cramped backyard. Most cars require a six-point turn, while others require more. Our Fiat 500 is by far, the easiest car I've ever parked at Casahashi.

A four-point turn was all that was required to get it into that spot shown above (the Genesis coupe was not there at the time). Perhaps some might ask how our much maligned Smart Fortwo fared. Well, it also only needed a four-pointer to park, but the jumpy clutch response made it a thoroughly unpleasant affair.

I'm pretty sure the record goes to a Nissan Xterra, since I lost count after subjecting myself to an Austin Powers-like pickle.

Honestly, though, I think I could do it in a zero-point turn. I can get a little speed up in the driveway, yank the e-brake and perform an offset 180 into that spot. There's just that problem of flat-spotting the tires. Oh, and the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong as I plow into my motorcycle shed. It'd make a helluva video, though.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: I Like the Spotter Mirror

June 17, 2011

fiat_500_spotter.JPG Our Fiat 500 has a blind-spot mirror on the driver side. It's a bit odd to look at initially since it's such an uncommon feature, but I happen to like it. It seems like a good idea, actually, so I'm curious why more automakers haven't adopted it over the years. (Ford is the major exception.) Of course more cars are coming out with electronic blind-spot monitors, but the mirror seems to work just as well.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Separated at Birth

June 09, 2011

fiat_500_yaris.JPG You can tell they're related because apparently neither driver can park. (In my defense, I edged closer on purpose for the photo.)

Incidentally, you can see a spec comparison of the 500 and Yaris on Edmunds here.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Get an Espresso and a Fiat

June 08, 2011

Motor Village LA.jpg

The buying process for this little Euro-mobile was as unique as the car itself. We saw the Fiat 500 at auto shows for more than a year so we knew we wanted to be one of the first to own it. Usually, that means getting on a list of interested buyers and paying ridiculous over-sticker prices. But when I called Joel Nelson, general sales manager for Motor Village LA he said there wasn't going to be any of that kind of nonsense. He took our order (Sport, with a sunroof and the Safety and Sound package), we paid a $500 deposit and waited.

Over the next two months, Nelson kept us posted on the 500's status as it moved from the factory in Toluca, Mexico, to a freight train and finally to the dealership. On a hot Friday morning in early March I drove down to sign papers and get our new car with Ron Montoya.

Motor Village LA is a tall, brick building just off the jammed Harbor Freeway -- a great way to advertise to all the people stuck in traffic. Next to the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Dodge Ram nameplates on the side of the building is the rather incongruous looking round, red Fiat badge.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Playing Hooky

June 01, 2011

fiat_beach_f34_1600-2.jpg

I edited a few news stories from home this morning, and didn't get on the road to the office until around 10:00 a.m. The sky was bright and sunny, the Fiat 500 so zippy--I was seriously tempted to ditch and head to the beach instead.

I never felt that way driving a Mini. And definitely not while peddling the Smart. But something about the 500 boosts my mood a few clicks on the spirit index.

What car makes you wanna ditch work for play?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 3,150 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Our Favorite Caption

May 20, 2011

FiatGoneWild_caption.jpg

Thanks to speedynk for this week's favorite caption?

Here are the others that busted our gut:

Chicks dig me! (ralphhightower)
Show us your Headlights! (oldchap)
Is this some kind of bus? (ergsum)
Hey, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is back in town! (ergsum)
Topolino meets the Bimbolimo (noburgers)
I see you've upgraded your headlights. No, mine are stock. (ms3omglol)
With today's gas prices, these are Girls Gone Sensible. (wshuff)
Fridays at Edmunds are really casual. (stovt001)
Keeping abreast on the latest rides in town.
And the Fiat carries just as many airbags... (vt8919)
Fiat 500C: Take your top off. (finn4723)
Show us your Naples! (finn4723)
Objects in mirror may be looser then they appear (carguy949)
Bosom buddies. (ergsum)
Fiat: imported from silicone valley. (ms3omglol)
I told her I drive something that's red, Italian, and starts with 'F' and she said she'd be back with some friends... (deagle13)

What was your favorite?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: You Write the Caption

May 20, 2011

FiatGoneWild_1600.jpg

For some reason this bus was parked outside our office. Automotive Editor James Riswick happened to be in the right place at the right time and snapped this photo of our Fiat Gone Wild.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Cherry Picking Easter Eggs

May 18, 2011

EasterEgg-1600.jpg

Okay, this is cherry-picking, but I am the first to show the "500" in the Fiat's headlamp surround. Obviously, there are many other examples of branding in unusual places. Remember this one? Got any more?

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Playing With Colors

May 17, 2011

fiatsitecolors.jpg
Out of boredom, I decided to build my own 2012 Fiat 500 using the Fiat site. I love checking out this feature on different car sites. It all started with customizing my own Mini on the Mini site. Anyway, was going to play with the different Fiat colors, of which they have 14, when I noticed the nifty special effects transitioning between each color.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Ancora Piu Piccolo Nonno

May 17, 2011

1957 Fiat 500.jpg Unless you're fluent in Italian (no, I'm not despite my last name), I'll save you from using Babel Fish. The romantic title of this blog means "even smaller grandfather". Yes, the new Fiat 500 is simply minute -- this thing is seven inches shorter than a new Mini Cooper! But have you ever seen its Nonno?

Check out this kitchy Italian commercial for the very first Fiat Cinquecento and try not to smile. Introduced for 1957, it was just 117 inches long and weighed only 1,100 pounds. And it supposedly could transport four adults. At 139.6 inches long and tipping the scales at 2,363 pounds, the current base model 500 is nearly two feet longer and weighs over twice as much as the original. Of course, modern day necessities such as air conditioning, power everything, an audio system and airbags galore tend to add some weight, as does a more robust structure that provides greater safety and handling/ride dynamics...

Giovanni DiPietro, Automotive Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Key Fob Quibble

May 12, 2011

fiat_500_key_fob.JPG

See the icons on the buttons that lock and unlock our longterm 2012 Fiat 500? Of course you can, this is a best-case photo, all zoomed in, awash in light and angled so that the shading shows the relief.

Out in the real world those icons are hopelessly invisible, small and too same-y. I invariably hit the wrong button if I don't hold the key fob up to my face and position it to and fro, turning and twisting to try to catch any available light so that I can tell with certainty which button is which.

This Fiat key fob dance is surely entertaining for onlookers.

Each time it happens I get more annoyed. The breaking point is this blog entry.

This certainly is not A Big Deal, and over time an owner might adjust to the location of each function without looking. But would it have killed them to make the buttons look distinct at a glance from the hip? Contrast the icons in white color, or something. Anything.

That old-school 'Fiat' logo is, however, rad. Italian design often hits hard and misses equally hard, and this key fob is an example of both.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Want to Drive It?

May 10, 2011

2012_fiat_500_f34_lt_419111_1600.jpg

This is for those people who don't check Edmunds Twitter or Facebook -- you're out there, I know it.

For the rest of you, I'll spare you the long-winded explanation and get to the point: We liked having some of our readers come out and drive the Lexus LFA so we're toying with the idea of letting someone drive our Fiat.

Can you drive a manual? Do you live in/near LA (or going to be out here)? Want to see what the Fiat 500 is like while I record you? If so, go to the Edmunds Facebook page message us on Twitter and tell us why we should pick you by noon tomorrow.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Fixed Seat Adjuster

May 06, 2011

IMG_2450.JPG

"We're sorry you had to drive all the way down here, but..." I've been at the new super Fiat / Chrysler / Dodge dealership, Motor Village LA (unfortunately close to USC) for less than ten minutes and things already aren't going well, "...we can't find your part. We don't even know where the Fiat parts are stored yet."

The seat lever for our 2012 Fiat 500 broke early in our testing and took about two weeks to get in. Shorter, actually, than I thought. But when I got to the dealership on that Saturday, the part was nowhere to be found and, surprise, the parts manager doesn't answer his cell on weekends.

This was a bit of a surprise as Motor Village is the same dealership that used to be on La Brea. I had to deal with them for our LT Dodge Ram and LT Dodge Challenger. There were still some familiar faces even though they'd moved downtown. They were good to me and were always on the ball. I was a little disappointed.

So, they got my car out of the bay and I pulled away...when I remembered something.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Is It Just for Girls?

May 06, 2011

fiatgucci.jpg

Photo from Gucci site

Judging from your comments in the intro post of our 2012 Fiat 500, a lot of you believe it's a "girl's car." Well, considering they came out with this pink "ode to Barbie" version in January and the Fiat 500 by Gucci this week, you may be on to something. Squeee! It's so cute and stylish!

The Fiat 500 by Gucci is available in white or black and has chrome accents, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the signature Gucci green-and-red stripe wrapping around its sides. In the interior there are two-tone leather seats, glossy black trim and Gucci badges galore. One of the models is even equipped with Gucci green rear brake calipers. The designer brand also sells a line of clothing and accessories to complement the car.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Electronic Throttle Warning Light?

May 06, 2011

2012_fiat_500_ip.jpg

Got the warning light on the dash for the electronic throttle both going home last night and again this morning. (Though you can't see it in this picture.)

This must be a fairly frequent occurrence, because the owner’s manual advises to simply pull over and reboot by switching off ignition and restarting. This solved the issue for me as well, though I actually didn’t read the manual before I got back here. The manual advises a visit to the dealer only if the light stays on.

The episode yest aft also involved some slowing down while cruising, which is what led me to see the warning light. So maybe there are some consequences to whatever is going on. Caught the light early while leaving San Pedro, so didn’t note any decline in throttle response.

No panic, but we might keep it in mind for the first service. See what kind of error codes they find. Maybe it's just me, since I brake with my left foot and there's some inevitable overlap when both the brake and throttle are engaged at the same time.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,175 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Happy Birthday, George

May 06, 2011

clooneyfiat.jpg

In celebration of George Clooney's 50th birthday today, here he is in a Fiat commercial which naturally takes place on the shores of Lake Como, near his home. True, it's not the 2012 Fiat 500 in the ad but rather the Idea microvan, but who cares? It's Clooney and he's now the big cinquanta. That's a 0 away from Cinquecento, no? OK, I just wanted an excuse to put him in this blog. But at least there's a tall, leggy girl in there for those who prefer that instead. You're welcome. And happy birthday, George, wherever you are.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 vs. The World

May 05, 2011

2012_fiat_500_action.jpg

There seems to be a glut of "Fiat 500 vs." videos so for your convenience, here are some of the best, including that viral video of a Fiat racing a Porsche 911 Turbo.

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Prius Pacers

May 04, 2011

2012_fiat_500_actf34.jpg

Ah, America. You have got to be big to win respect in this country. The Fiat 500 is not big, and there are not yet very many of them, so it gets dissed.

Prius drivers look over at the Fiat 500 on the freeway and quickly decide that they have finally found a car that they do not have to be afraid of. They don’t race you exactly, but instead pace you, so you can’t slide past or even slide over. This is worse than racing, because it forms a rolling road block.

A Volvo cut me off today as well, barging into the slot in front of me as we lined up for an off-ramp. What’s next, a Sienna driver flipping me off in his rear-view mirror?

Am going to have to start driving like an Italian.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,175 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Broken Seat Adjuster

May 03, 2011

IMG_2445.JPG

You'll no doubt remember the part in Jacobs' post where he mentioned that the seat adjuster had broken. Well, here's the proof. And the confession by the guy who did it....

The first weekend we had the 500, I was arrogant and selfish enough to think that the seat position in our Fiat 500 was simply too high, so I grabbed the well-placed handle and levered it down. All the way down at first just to see how low it would go. Too low, it turns out, so I went to lever it a teeny bit higher; half a lever-pull maybe.

But the seat wouldn't move, so I tried pulling it up again -- still using only my fingertips -- with a little bit of force, but not HULK SMASH force... and then the handle shattered and shot into the backseat.

I called our local Fiat dealership from that parking lot to order a new handle. Surely an interior piece of an Italian car sold by Chrysler would be easy to find, right? (Also, am I the first person to break a Fiat since their return to the States?)

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 563 miles

See full article and comment.


2012 Fiat 500: Freak Out

May 03, 2011

fiat_500_firstimpression.jpg

My first experience with this little red car was the night before the Long Term Introduction photo shoot. My immediate impression was that this thing is small. Yes, I love driving our Raptor, so the transition to this thing is rather stark.

My second impression was that the interior was fun. But that fun is only surface deep.

I was warned before I got into the car about the lack of driver seat height adjustment. The lever to raise/lower the seat had been snapped in two by a previous driver. That has me worried about the F.i.a.t. reputation (Fix It Again Tony) and this thing is assembled in Mexico. Not that I think all Mexican products are crap, there are plenty of other fine cars on the road assembled there. But I mention it because my girl has a Jetta assembled south of the boarder and the doors whistle above 65mph. The same car also had a transmission replaced with >15k miles on it. Does the fault lay with VW or Mexico? Not sure, but it does add a drop of concern to my mix.

A fore mentioned concerns plus the fact this thing is basically a first run vehicle do raise some red flags in my book. But I have to admit it, our 500 is fun to drive around. Maybe it's the novelty of it. Maybe it's the funky fun design of the thing. My girl said it reminded her of a clown car at the circus. Yeah it is a little silly looking, but I'm surprised that I even like to looks of it. No I don't need my head examined, plenty of others were freaking out over this compact alternate at gas stations, parking lots, and on the freeways. Whether you like it or not, it does have appeal.

I heard one person saying this thing doesn't make sense. It's too expensive, it's too small, it doesn't offer great economy, nor is it a performer. Sure, you might win on all points, but want and need are two different things. What about folks who buy a heavy duty off-road machine like the Raptor and it never sees dirt? People buy more often than not with their heart, not their brain.

Let's be honest, it's never going to win a race or be a great economical performer in it's current configuration. But it does offer people a stylish alternative to some of the boring compacts out there. That fact alone is going to give this thing a toe hold in the US market.

Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography

See full article and comment.

Leave a Comment

Research Models

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 FIAT 500 in VA is:

$134 per month*
* Explanation
ADVERTISEMENT