Reviews

2012 Fiat 500 Sport – Pushing the Limits

Mileage to date: 15,540

Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Update: Spring 2012 ( 1 of 5 ) Miles to date: 15,540

For us, there are few better ways to relieve stress than by taking a car to the ragged edge of its abilities.

“There are almost no new cars left on the market that can be safely pushed to their limits. There’s something fantastically fun about driving a car with low limits and pushing it as hard as possible to hit those limits,” declares managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros. “One of those cars is our Fiat 500 Sport.

“Even though the car is fairly low to the ground, the upright windshield gives the driver a good view of the road ahead. The shifter, although frustratingly vague, has a nice lightness to it. Driving this thing hard makes me appreciate the Fiat that much more.”

Senior editor Eric Tingwall shares her sentiment. “The Fiat 500 is just so honest and upfront about what it is,” says Tingwall. “It has a meager amount of power and cramped headroom, and its short wheelbase makes for a busy ride, but the Fiat/Chrysler engineers have done a nice job damping impacts so the ride is never choppy. The car’s humble powerplant seems very content at full throttle, as it needs to be — I don’t think I’ve ever driven so many miles with my foot to the floor.”

No one on staff is impervious: the Fiat charms us into thinking it needs to be driven at full-tilt all the time. Puttering along like a Sunday driver simply won’t do. “Driving a slow car quickly is one of the best feelings in the automotive world,” reiterates senior web editor Phil Floraday. “Anyone can feel like a driving god when the limits are as low as they are in our Fiat. I’d love to flog a Fiat 500 of any flavor around a track for a day. Unfortunately, I already hit my head on the roof, and that’s without a helmet. Too bad.”

As you can see, we love wringing this thing out. It might be slow, but damned if it isn’t fun. Check back next month to see if we have to order a new set of tires or not.

Overview

  • Body style: 2-door hatchback
  • Accommodation: 4-passenger seating
  • Construction: Unitized steel body
  • Base price: (with dest.) $18,000
  • As tested: $19,850

Powertrain

  • Engine: 1.4-liter MultiAir I-4
  • Displacement: 1.4 liters
  • Power: 101 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque: 98 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
  • Transmission type: 5-speed manual transmission
  • Drive: Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 30/38/33 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering: Power rack and pinion with electric power steering column
  • Lock-to-lock: 3
  • Turning circle: 30.6 ft
  • Suspension, front: Sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs
  • Suspension, rear: Sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs
  • Brakes f/r: Vented disc/solid disc
  • Wheels: 16-in. aluminum wheels
  • Tires: Continental ContiProContact
  • Tire size: 195/45R16

Measurements

  • Headroom f/r: 37.6/35.6 in
  • Legroom f/r: 40.7/31.7 in
  • Shoulder room f/r: 49.4/46.4 in
  • Wheelbase: 90.6 in
  • Track f/r: 55.4/55.0 in
  • L x W x H: 139.6 x 64.1 x 59.8 in
  • Cargo capacity: 9.5 cu ft
  • Weight: 2363 lb
  • Weight dist. f/r: 64/36
  • Fuel capacity: 10.5 gal
  • Est. fuel range: 346 miles
  • Fuel grade: 91 octane (premium unleaded)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • 1.4-liter MultiAir I-4 engine
    • 5-speed manual transmission
    • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes
    • 16-in. aluminum wheels
    • Electronic stability control
    • Power windows w/one-touch-down
    • Power locks
    • Remote keyless entry
    • Speed control
    • Hill start assist
    • Tire pressure monitoring system
    • Rear window defroster
    • Rear window wiper/washer
    • Sport suspension
    • 12-volt auxiliary power outlet
    • Air conditioning
    • Driver height adjustable seat w/memory
    • Bose premium audio system
    • Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel
    • Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
    • Auxiliary audio input jack
    • Tilt steering column
    • Front floor mats
    • Chrome shift knob
    • Halogen projector headlights
    • Power heated exterior mirrors
    • Fog lamps
    • Rear spoiler
    • Chrome exhaust tip
    • Red brake calipers
    • Tire service repair kit

Options

  • Safety and Convenience package
  • $400
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Security alarm
  • Compact spare tire
  • Safety and Sound package
  • $200
  • Sirius XM satellite radio w/one-year subscription
  • Power sunroof $850
  • TomTom navigation w/BLUE and ME $400

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