12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport - Pushing the Limits

May 1, 2012
2012 Fiat 500 Sport Front View
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Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Update - SPRING 2012 (3 OF 3)
Mileage 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.
2012 Fiat 500 Sport Left Side View
"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.
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:

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