Thanks to the Fiat 500, the subcompact car market in North America is about to get a whole lot spicier, and here at The Garage we could not be more excited. North American 500s will be built at a Chrysler plant in Mexico, while engines will be built in Detroit. To start, all 500s will share the same drivetrain, a 1.4L four rated at 101hp, coupled to either a five-speed manual or an all-new six-speed automatic. For fuel mileage, exxpect 30mpg city and 38mpg on the highway with the manual, while those figures drop to 27/34mpg, respectively, with automatic equipped cars.
So, is North America ready for the return of Fiat? I believe so. At $192,000, a Ferrari California is currently Italy’s cheapest import, so the Fiat 500, with a starting price of $15,500 will be a breath of fresh air. Fiat is seeking a youthful market with the 500, a generation who will dismiss the old farts with the “Fix It Again Tony” jokes. When Fiat pulled out of North America in the early 1980’s, even the oldest Generation X’ers were too young to drive, so the demons (rust and reliability) that drove Fiat away from these shores so long ago should be a non-issue. Even so, Fiat is not taking chances, indicating that the 500 underwent “quality and refinement adaptations for the US market.”
If Fiat has the right dealer network and the right car, there is the potential for a hit. The individuality and spirit of the MINI at a lower starting price, coupled with the funk factor of the Smart ForTwo in a far more practical package should bode well for for the 500 in North America. Hit continue for the 2012 Fiat 500 models and pricing.
500 Pop: $15,500USD
The entry-level 500 comes standard with the 5-speed manual and 15″ steel wheels. Also included are seven airbags, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with auxiliary jack, power windows and locks, power heated mirrors, cruise control and a trip computer.
500 Sport: $17,500
As the name implies, this is the 500 for the buyer with an enthusiast bent. Standard on the 500 Sport are modified springs, shocks and steering, 16″ alloys, more aggressively styled front and rear fascias, sill cladding, roof spoiler, red brake calipers, chrome exhaust tip and foglamps. Inside, there are sport seats, Bose audio, a leather steering wheel with audio controls, and BLUE&ME hands-free communication.
500 Lounge: $19,500
The Lounge model is aimed at the style-conscious buyer. The only transmission available is the automatic. Chrome accents abound, while other standard features include a glass roof, 15″ alloys, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Bose stereo, Sirius satellite radio, anti-theft alarm, and BLUE&ME hands-free communication.
Like the MINI, Fiat promises a wide palette of color combinations and accessories to aid in personalizing the Fiat 500 to the buyer’s tastes.