12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Fiat 500 - Four Seasons Introduction

September 8, 2011
2011 Fiat 500 Side
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It's hard not to be infatuated with Fiat's 500. The original Fiat 500 started selling in 1957, with almost 4 million cars being produced in less than 20 years. Since its debut as a concept at the 2004 Geneva auto show, the new Cinquecento has been a sensation around the world, and more than a half-million have been sold since its initial launch in 2007. Now, thanks to Chrysler's having fallen under the umbrella of the Fiat group, the 500 has made it stateside. So when it came to time to order a new car for our Four Seasons fleet, we had to get our hands on this modern interpretation of an endearing icon.
2011 Fiat 500 Front End
We opted for the Fiat 500 Sport, but the A-segment two-door also comes in Pop and Lounge models. Why did we go with the Sport? Because it has modified springs, shock tuning, steering calibration, exhaust tuning, and, most importantly, a standard manual transmission. The Pop model also comes with a standard five-speed manual, but we didn't want to miss out on all the touches that come with the Sport for only $2000 more. That gave our little red car a base price of $18,000 (with destination).
Fiat's 1.4-liter MultiAir inline-four engine delivers 101 horsepower at 6500 rpm. That means this little Fiat may be a tad bit more show than go, but it also gets an EPA-estimated 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Even in the city, where the Cinquecento is most in its element, the small displacement four-cylinder should still return an admirable 30 mpg.
Standard features on our newest Four Seasons car include your bland multitude of necessities: electronic stability control, power windows and locks, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, air-conditioning, variable speed windshield wipers, and a 12-volt auxiliary power outlet to name just a few. But the Sport model adds even more: 16-inch aluminum wheels with all-season performance tires, a rear spoiler, a Bose premium audio system, and BLUE&ME hands-free communication with a USB port. We also tacked on a few options.
Our Fiat received a $400 Safety and Convenience package, which adds automatic temperature control, a security alarm, and a compact spare tire. We also sprang for TomTom navigation for $400, and a power sunroof for $850. Our most important option? Fiat's $200 Safety and Sound package that comes with a one-year subscription to Sirius XM satellite radio, a growing necessity among our Four Seasons test cars. All this brought up 500's price tag up to a still-reasonable $19,850.
With the winter months quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see how much we like the light and nimble, front-wheel-drive Fiat come our first snow. But for the final weeks of summer, there's no doubt our new, Italian redhead will be a hit.
Check back here to see where our Four Season Fiat heads first.
2011 Fiat 500 Engine
Body style: 2-door hatchback
Accommodation: 4-passenger seating
Construction: Unitized steel body
Base price: (with dest.) $18,000
As tested: $19,850
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)
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
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)
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
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

Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Reviews to Date:

2012 Fiat 500 - Four Seasons Introduction
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