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Fiat’s return to America heralded by the iconic Italian car

The road snakes steeply upward as we zip from corner to corner, whipping up gravel on the road’s edge, the local greenery fluttering in the car’s tiny wake as we nearly miss larger chunks of rock jutting out on the tightest of curves. Tuscany comes to mind, but this is not Italy. No, we’re in California.

The car, however, is Italian. A Fiat no less. In fact, we’re one of the lucky few to sample the very modern, yet fabulously nostalgic experience of piloting the first Fiat to be sold on these shores in 27 years.

A sign of the changing times, the Fiat 500, or the more fun to say ‘cinquecento’, might be evidence of America’s changing perceptions of small cars. More practically, however, it has come to market as the result of Chrysler’s savior Fiat, which took over the American auto giant and ensured its bankruptcy did not end in liquidation.

Gathered together at the Culy Warehouse in downtown San Diego to introduce the 500, the folks at Fiat North America are seemingly unaware of the brutal irony that this place could be mistaken for a mechanic’s garage.

Along with the usual breakdown of specifications, it’s surprising to learn just who Fiat intends to target with this new model. On the one hand, there’s the obvious lifestyle competitor, the MINI Cooper. On the other hand, there are cars like the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris.

Spending a day behind the wheel reveals that while pricing is a factor, with the 500 bridging the gap between these two disparate types of small cars, there are numerous other ways the 500 delivers a compelling halfway point between the transportation you need and the fun car you really want.
Read the complete 2012 Fiat 500 Review at AutoGuide.com
 

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Its a good review with, I'm happy to see, some thoughtful criticisms (i.e., power drop-offs after third gear, an "abundance of cheap plastic" etc). The reviews I've read thus far were becoming somewhat fawning and self-serving. I still love the car and will likely get one but good not to get too dazzled by all the hype!
 

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Been there........

All I can say is it was s very well written article. As for the look and feel of the car I was quite impressed with it when I went to the launch party in LA. The feel, fit, and finish and overall soze and ergonomics was as good as anything I had seen. I'm picky and have been driving Passats and the GTI since 1999. I almost bought a Mini myself in 2003 and bought a 2.0T GTI. The GtI was a bigger car and way more fun. The Mini was overpriced for what you get. As for fit and finish of the 2009 Mini I drove to the launch party with a friend of mine who owns it and I was not impressed.

I just hope my Prima #241 is worth the wait. If not I'll sell it once the Abarth is sold in the USA!
 

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My local dealer just got one for test driving, and it looks exactly like the one pictured above. What the heck is the name of that color? Don't tell me red.
 
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