2012 Fiat 500: It's a Real Car
September 12, 2011
It's easy to be around the 2012 Fiat 500 for a while and start dismissing it as a toy without really realizing it. It's not fast. It's too cute (Late last week, I encountered another woman who even looked sort of like me also driving a Rosso 500 Sport, and we got all smiley-wavey). And its interior materials are cheap -- too cheap considering Fiat is building the car in Mexico, rather than exporting it from Italy.
But then, I got in the 500 after spending almost a week in one of its rivals, and I realized I like the 500 more than I've previously admitted. It has a solid, substantial ride, considering it's a true subcompact with a short wheelbase and presumably had its chassis tuned on a tight budget. And I really do enjoy working through the gears of its five-speed manual -- the shifter is reasonably precise and offers some positive feel going into gates, and the clutchwork is easy and fun.
Also, the 1.4-liter MultiAir engine actually has some personality -- a pleasing growl as you accelerate off the line -- which is more than I can say of most of the 1.4-, 1.5- and 1.6-liter engines I've been around recently.
Yep, this Cinquecento is a real car and if I had to buy something in this price range, I'd consider it for its driving characteristics alone.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,745 miles