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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
the 2012 Fiat 500 was tested by edmunds and it turns out they have more positive feedback from it than negative, and all their negative feedback isn't that bad actually. They also have a video review posted if you want to see that in this link

The Fiat 500 may not be as fast as they wish it to be or have as much head room, but I still think it's a good bargain compared to the Mini Cooper which is pretty high priced.

Does anyone find head room to be a problem with the 500?

from edmunds...
Hollywood loves a sequel, and now it's the Italians' turn. Fiat is reentering the North American market and it's promising that things are going to be different this time. The first model to arrive is the 2012 Fiat 500, a remake of the classic Cinquecento produced from 1957-'75.

The 500 marks the first tangible aspect of the Fiat/Chrysler marriage and it will be interesting to see how Americans react to the brand that was better known as "Fix It Again Tony" when the Italian maker pulled out of the U.S. market in 1984.

Fiat says its quality is better this time around — the North American 500 is built at Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico, factory (the same plant that built the PT Cruiser during its 10-year run). So what we have here is a tiny, Italian-engineered hatchback built in Mexico by Chrysler. Whether that instills confidence or fear, or complete ambivalence, depends on whether you've ever owned a Chrysler or a Fiat. Or if you're under the age of 30.

Old Becomes New
Much like the Volkswagen New Beetle, the new 2012 Fiat 500 ditches the rear-engine/rear-drive layout of its forebear for a front-engine/front-drive setup. And like the Beetle, the 2012 Fiat 500 looks like a larger, modernized version of the original.

Its 90.6-inch wheelbase and 139.6-inch overall length still make it tiny by U.S. standards, though. It's far smaller than the Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Mini Cooper and Toyota Yaris, although it dwarfs the Smart Fortwo.

Hop inside the 500 and one of the most obvious new-meets-old bits is the tachometer-within-the-speedometer instrument cluster. As with the Mini Cooper's center-of-the-car "fish bowl" speedo, nostalgia takes precedence over driving function, as having the two needles occasionally nearly on top of each other is just plain weird.

Materials quality is a mixed bag. The cheap-looking black plastic bits on the audio/HVAC unit contrast with the body-color dash trim that houses three nice-looking buttons for the Sport mode, hazards and rear defrost. And it's all about buttons in the 500's cabin, as there isn't a knob to be found anywhere, not even for stereo volume — annoying.

The window switches, which are placed on opposite sides of the shifter, make it nearly impossible to operate both windows with one hand. Annoyances aside, we'd say the Fiat 500's interior design draws a nice compromise between the sparsely outfitted Mazda 2 and the gimmicky Mini Cooper. And the sound quality of the standard Bose stereo system is impressive.

Further, the good-looking front seats in our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport model offer a surprising amount of lateral bolstering, while still providing all-day comfort. But make no mistake, this is a small cabin — we could almost touch the rear window from the driver seat. Headroom is the biggest issue for anyone over average height, particularly in the rear. Opt for the $850 sunroof and it's a tight fit front or back. The car's huge B-pillar also results in a giant blind spot on the driver side. Adjust your mirrors correctly or you'll be cutting people off in no time.

Much Ado About MultiAir
No, MultiAir isn't some cool turbocharger system (we wish). Rather, it's Fiat-speak for a fully variable intake valve system, the valve operation triggered by electronically controlled oil pressure actuators. The system helps the 2012 Fiat 500's cast-iron block/aluminum head 1.4-liter four-cylinder produce 101 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 98 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, transmitted to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. The high-mount shifter is easy to reach and the throws are long, but positive. An Aisin six-speed automatic is also available.

MultiAir isn't magic, and asking a 2,438-pound car with just over 100 horses to move with any real hustle is like thinking you're going to see 39-year-old Shaquille O'Neal sprint down the basketball court. At 10.8 seconds to 60 mph (10.5 seconds with a 1-foot rollout like at a drag strip), the 500 Sport is almost a second slower than our long-term Mazda 2 (9.9 seconds). This is partly because the 500's gearing requires a 2-3 shift before 60, and also because the Fiat's rev limiter starts to cut in as the tach needle swings past 6,000 rpm in 1st gear and at 6,500 in 2nd. The redline is 6,750. The rev limiter eventually settles at 6,900. This made our tester angry, and you don't want to see him angry.

Out in the real world, the 500 doesn't feel so dog slow — if you don't mind whipping the little engine a bit. It doesn't mind, as it feels smoother and more robust than its tiny size would indicate. MultiAir or not, though, there's very little punch below 4,000 rpm, and it never exhibits any kind of high-rpm rush. The so-called Sport button increases throttle response and firms up the steering, the former making for zippier getaways from stoplights but doing little for pure acceleration.

Fast In, Slow Out
Handling is where the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport lives up to its Italian heritage. The front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension feature stiffer springs and shocks and wider 16-inch wheels/tires over the less sporting Fiat 500 models, the Pop and Lounge. Unfortunately, the ride is on the harsh side, even on the highway, the short wheelbase compounding the choppiness.

But the car's narrow chassis and communicative electric power steering are a real boon through the slalom, where the 500 managed an exemplary 68.4-mph run, about equal to the last Mini we tested (68.3), while spanking the Ford Fiesta (62.2). The Fiat's "ESC off" mode is only a partial off, but thankfully the intrusion point is high. Its chassis is very well balanced and never, ever gets out of sorts.

The skid pad test revealed significant understeer, although 0.86g is decent grip. The planted chassis isn't overly receptive to drop-throttle, a trait we explored further on a mountain road where our Fiat 500 Sport showed it wasn't keen to change its attitude midway through corners. But for the majority of the time, on most roads, the 500 feels sprightly, confident and...kinda sporty.

The brake pedal exhibited a firm, powerful feel, with zero fade during our track panic stops, and held up remarkably well during the spirited mountain jaunt. Of course, "spirited" is a relative term when you only have 101 horses at your disposal.

While we were hammering on the little Fiat, we averaged 30.3 mpg against EPA ratings of 30 city/38 highway/33 combined mpg.

Chick Car?
Although the Fiat 500 is widely accepted in Europe (where it has already been on sale for four years), that doesn't means much in the U.S. After all, those crazy Europeans love scooters and hatchbacks, too. Still, we got a thumbs-up and a few waves while driving the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport, so the 500 has a chance

We don't know much about demographics, but we can tell you that the Fiat 500 has flavor, inside and out, more than just about anything else in the small-car class. Of course, interior idiosyncrasies come standard (hey, it's Italian), and there's no getting around the fact that it's on the slow side — agonizingly so at low revs. But the 500's willingness to attack corners helps make up for its ambling nature.
The price is right, too. The base Fiat 500 Pop starts at $16,000 (including $500 destination), while our 2012 500 Sport model starts at $18,000 nicely equipped, with an as-tested price of $19,000.
Better than a Mini? No, not quite, but certainly better than many of the econoboxes that currently populate this price range. Its reliability is still a question, but its appeal is not.

233 Posts
Interesting, car and driver had 0-60 in 9.2 seconds. Feels somewhere in between those 2 numbers from my experience.
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