It's no secret that Fiat's pushing its 500 as a chic urban runabout, but the company's really striving to resonate with drivers in New York City. The automaker launched much of its market research and marketing campaigns in the Big Apple, and even waited for the New York International Auto Show to launch the Fiat 500 Cabrio in our market. But one question remains: does the pint-sized Italian hatchback resonate with New Yorkers?
The New York Observer, a weekly paper based in the city¸ interviewed a handful of new Fiat 500 owners, including a few who were previous owners of a Mini Cooper, long considered one of NYC’s “it” cars. Among those who made the switch is Joel Karie, who doesn’t mind that his Tropicalia Yellow, sport model 500 is a bit smaller than the Cooper. “I can get more bang for my buck this way,” said Karie, who points out that his 500 is about $5000 cheaper than a comparable Cooper. “I feel very comfortable in this car. It’s like an Apple computer. Aesthetics and design can make something boring fun.”
One can argue that the Mini is just as fun with its quirky interior bits. But in a city packed with Italian immigrants, the Fiat 500 can tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of Italian-Americans like no other car can.
“I’m Italian. It’s my first car, I learned to drive with a Cinquecento when I was 15 years old,” said Claudio Coronas, proprietor of DOC Wine Bar and DOC Wine Shop, both located in Williamsburg. “For me, maybe it’s something that’s more than a car. It reminds me of when I was younger. When you drive a Mini, it’s good; when you drive a Cinquecento, it’s passion.”
So has the Fiat 500 unseated the Mini Cooper as NYC’s “it” car? It’s probably too early to say and it wouldn’t be fair to make a decision based on The Observer’s collection of anecdotes skewed in the 500’s favor. But for a city that embraces the latest and greatest in design, fashion, and all things Italian, it’s hard to argue that the Fiat 500 encompasses all that into a (small) package.
Source: The New York Observer