"Over a year it's proved itself a viable, useful, and capable little car."
"I think once the novelty of having a Fiat wears off, this car will rapidly stop accumulating miles," predicted senior web editor Phil Floraday twelve months ago, just days after the Fiat 500 showed up at our old office.
Floraday was wrong. The Fiat 500 averaged about 1750 miles each month, not bad for a car obviously aimed at city folk with short commutes.
Then there was copy editor Rusty Blackwell's forecast: "It remains to be seen how much longevity the 500 will have in our marketplace. The Mini Cooper has stayed fairly hot since its arrival, and the comparisons between the two are clear. But I think there's a better chance that 500 sales will tank like those of the Smart ForTwo."
He, too, was wrong. Fiat is currently selling three times as many 500s as it was a year ago. In the last seven months, 24,416 have rolled off showroom floors. (Sidenote: the Mini and the ForTwo are selling better this year as well. You go, small cars.)
Finally, there's associate web editor Jake Holmes, who declared that the 500 felt "no more special than other small hatchbacks like, say, a Hyundai Accent or Volkswagen Golf" after one of his first stints in the Fiat. Now, Holmes says, "I'm convinced I could live with this car. It is easy to drive and has adequate, if not abundant, power, and the 'tiny' cargo area is actually big enough for most grocery runs, errands, and suitcases."
Even if our initial impressions of the 500 were negative, we were eager to spend a year it. And, boy, are we glad we did. Give it up for the Fiat. It proved to be a viable, useful, and capable little car.
|Body style:||2-door hatchback|
|Construction:||Unitized steel body|
|Base price: (with dest.)||$18,000|
|Engine:||1.4-liter MultiAir I-4|
|Power:||101 hp @ 6500 rpm|
|Torque:||98 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|Transmission type:||5-speed manual transmission|
|EPA Fuel Economy:||30/38/33 (city/hwy/combined)|
|Steering:||Power rack and pinion with electric power steering column|
|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|
|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|
|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 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|
|TomTom navigation w/BLUE and ME||$400|