Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport

On December 3, 2011, I test drove a new 2012 Fiat 500 Sport at Walter’s Fiat in Riverside, California. This Fiat’s exterior is Nero Black with the Nero Grigio Black interior. Under the hood is Fiat’s 1.4 liter inline 4 engine that produces 101 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 98 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. It may be small, but good enough for city driving. The transmission is a 5 speed manual which is easy to shift. The dealer was asking $19000 for this Fiat. The price is just $1000 more than the build your own model with the same features on fiatusa.com, which was $18000. The Sport package comes with 16 inch aluminum wheels, a Bose sound system, Sport suspension, fog lights, a spoiler, and sportier front and rear bumpers. It definitely has a better fit and finish look than the 500 Pop, the base model. The 500 comes in other packages, such as the Lounge (the luxury model), The Pink Ribbon (in support of breast cancer), The Gucci (a Sport and Lounge mixed with red and green side stripes), and soon, there will also be the Abarth 500. It is the performance Fiat 500 model that won’t debut until sometime after the beginning of 2012. It will have a turbocharged 1.4 liter inline 4 engine that can make 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. This is one that will be worth test driving in the future. Let’s get back to my test drive. I walked into the dealer, and a really sweet Italian lady came up to me asking if I was interested in the Fiat. I told her that I wanted to drive a Fiat 500 sport with a 5 speed. We went outside, and there was a red one and a black one. I chose the black one. We went back inside so she could scan my driver’s license. When I sat in the Fiat 500, it was small. Even though it can seat four people, I would prefer not to seat more than two. What I did like about the Fiat was the sharp handling. When I started driving I drove around a traffic circle and it was easy to steer. The car wasn’t really fast, but good enough for a 1368cc engine. I have driven a 1969 VW Beetle with either a 1500cc or 1600cc a few times. It was slow, and I never got it passed 75 mph; however, it was certainly fun to drive. The Fiat can go faster than the Bug I’ve driven. The 5 speed manual was easy to shift. I try and focus more on driving than talking when driving a car that is stick shift, but I was able to talk to the saleswoman about Fiats, Alfa Romeos, and Italy. She was born in Italy and recently immigrated to the US. I visited Italy in June 2008, and I was telling her that I saw the first of the new Fiats on my trip. The new 500s debuted in either 2007 or 2008 for the Italian market, but they started coming to the states in early 2011 as 2012 models after Fiat bought out Chrysler. I just enjoyed talking to a woman that has an interest in cars like I do. She even said that she was going to buy one for herself. She said she wanted the Fiat 500 Pop. That’s my least favorite model of the 500. The test drive went well. I now have more of an interest in these cars. Overall, the Fiat 500 is a neat little machine. You would think that it’s a chick car, but that’s only if you buy a white 500c, the cabriolet, or any of the lighter colors. The Sport, Gucci, or Abarth models are more masculine looking. I do need a bigger car at times so it’s somewhat small for me, but for cruising around town or one day trips, it’s perfect. Parking would obviously be a piece of cake due to its size. If it were me, I’d stick with a red or black Sport, black Gucci, or Abarth 500. If you like small, funky cars, and want an alternative to a Mini Cooper or Volkswagen Beetle, the Fiat 500 is perfect. This car is not for you if you consider yourself to be a big person, or carry a lot of luggage or passengers. I hope these cars have a successful run in the United States, and that their consumers will be satisfied with their purchases.

 

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