Respect? - 2012 FIAT 500 Long-Term Road Test

2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test

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2012 Fiat 500: Respect?

February 28, 2012

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A couple days before my trip to Vegas, one of you asked me to report on whether or not other motorists show respect for the 2012 Fiat 500 out on the open road, in this case, Interstate 15. Today, while driving around Los Angeles in our NSX, I remembered that I never answered this question.

Not surprisingly, I found the motorists on I-15 short on patience -- and especially with regard to our 500. A typical scenario went something like this: The Fiat and I are in a line of cars in the No. 1 lane trying to pass a truck in the No. 2 lane (there are only two lanes in either direction for long stretches on the 15). Finally, the (often slow) car ahead of me would complete its pass, and I'd pedal the Fiat a little to work up my speed so that I could complete my pass more quickly. This usually earned no credit with the motorist directly behind me, who in spite of the increase in speed, would move ever closer to the 500's bumper and (sometimes) dance around behind me as if to say, "You're the real problem, Little Car! You're slow and lame and your lack of power is the direct cause of all traffic jams on this road."

Elsewhere, though, it's a totally different story.

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People love the 500. I got plenty of compliments at gas stations, and these tourists in Death Valley National Park wanted to have their photo taken with the car.

Driving the NSX around town today elicited different reactions. This is the kind of car that owns the open road, at least the ones where precise handling matters more than massive torque (torque rules on I-15, of course). But around town, not many people respect it. Mind you, there are a lot of SUV drivers who simply don't see it. But there's also a population of utility vehicle drivers who clearly do see it, but apparently sense that it has to be driven with extreme care (due to many people not seeing it, due to its low clearance over ruts and dips and due to it being more visible to law enforcement), and take advantage by moving to occupy its spot in traffic any old time they want.

In reality, it's all small potatoes, and it just means I need to remove the chip from my shoulder when driving the 500 and the NSX.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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