Fiat 500 Forum banner
1 - 20 of 60 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
393 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Taken from consumer reports.... I want to see what you guys think about what they're saying about the Fiat 500. Since this is probably the biggest Fiat 500 forum out with a strong presence of Fiat 500 owners I thought this was a good place to ask!


Today, we announced that the tiny Fiat 500 hatchback scored too low in Consumer Reports testing to be recommended. Since I spend a lot of time on Internet car enthusiast forums, I know how many misspelled, grammar-fractured posts are going to read: “Consumer Reports hates the 500.” Thing is, we don’t hate the 500. So, what gives?

First the good news: The 500 marks Fiat’s return to the American market after a nearly 30 year absence. It makes sense for Fiat to return with a car that tugs at emotional heartstrings, rather than duking it out with the Accords/Camrys /Sonatas of the world. It’s much better to invoke pleasant memories of romantic movies, red wine, and pasta instead of images of rusted Bravas and Stradas on the side of the road. No doubt, the 500 turns heads and has a certain cachet. More tangibly, the 500 is also a hoot to drive and it’s quite fuel efficient. (Read our Fiat 500 road test.)

But there’s a pretty long list of negatives here too:

- This may be Captain Obvious talking, but such a small car presents packaging issues. The rear seat is tiny, and there isn’t much cargo space. What’s more, the 500 inherited the classic Italian arms-straight-out driving position, which isn’t helped by the narrow cabin. Over-the-left-shoulder visibility is surprisingly bad, too.

- The old adage “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow” has some truth to it. It certainly applies here, because the 500 (even with the manual transmission of our test car) is pretty darn slow.

- Although some interweb posters will doubtlessly blame “watering-down” of the original European 500, they’re wrong. This 500 drives dramatically better than the Euro-spec 500s we sampled. Despite those refinements, the ride remains busy and the car is pretty noisy.

Maybe some of these transgressions would be more forgivable if you ignore the competition. The closest rival to the 500 is the base Mini Cooper, which is like a jet-powered, better-steering, commodious moving van in comparison. (It also gets about the same fuel economy, but it does cost more.) For the same price as our 500 Sport, you can get a Ford Fiesta SES or Mazda2. They aren’t as cute, but they’re more practical and they’re also fuel efficient and great fun to drive with sharper steering.

Proof of the 500’s disconnect came when I drove our just-arrived and not-yet-tested 500c convertible test car into work this morning. Visibility is lousy, the seats are squishy, the ride is busy, and I bounced off the second gear rev-limiter when passing another car. That said, it was a memorable and fun drive. My colleague Jim Travers found the same thing during a long highway trip with our 500 hatchback.

In the end, our job is to inform the consumer. If you want a 500 (or a Jeep Wrangler, or any other car we don’t recommend for that matter), read our review. If you can live with those sacrifices, then you made an informed decision. Nothing to hate about that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Overall, I can't find much to argue with in their observations, except for the comment about it being noisy. I find the cars remarkably quiet compared to most cars out there.

The Mini comparisons are all valid, although they gloss over the price discrepancy which is a much bigger deal for those of us actually looking to purchase one than a reviewer who doesn't realize how much of a price differential it is in the real world as the options start adding up. Here in Canada, a comparable Mini equipped with all the goodies of my 500C would cost over $10,000 more! Also the 500 has charms all it's own that better the Mini including comfortable cabin, ride, and ergonomics. I just find it a happier place to spend time.

Finally, if the Mini is the closest competition, it seems dubious to than find fault with the car against a Mazda 2 or a fiesta (Or Hyundai's for that matter). I doubt that many Mini shoppers would consider those econo-boxes, and I know that I didn't.

I didn't buy this car as a retro fashion statement, and I'm sure most Mini buyers are the same. I just wanted an upscale compact that didn't skimp on the luxury items as a daily driver. If Acura sold a version of the Fit I would've considered that too. Heck, I would have bought the fit if it had a bit more soundproofing material and was offered with bluetooth, which isn't offered here (ditto for Nav).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
614 Posts
Nothing more than one opinion. Why should I take stock in what Somegoober Reports has to say based on a single opinion with no data to back a thing up?

A Mini? $6,000 more and a sure tranny/clutch/flywheel issue to look forward to around 30K...I doubt Goober Bob is going to reimburse me on that one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
606 Posts
Hi

To me, I think that a lot about how some people feel about a car depends on where they are coming from.

For me, I've pretty much always have driven small inexpensive cars, and as such the 500 seems to be a really nice, capable car. However, I suspect that the Consumer Reports reviewers are viewing the Fiat 500 as if its a more expensive (or in other ways different) car than what it is. I guess that maybe if your used to also testing much more expensive cars, you might more often view a less expensive one from the point of view of what its lacking (or what it isn't) rather than what it has (or what it is).

Yes the rear seat is smallish, but I suspect that most other really comparable cars are also. Yes the driver's seating is may be a bit different than in other cars, but to be truthful, when I drive, my arms aren't stretched out straight at all, and the seating is actually similar to many other cars (like my old Matrix for example).

As far as power and speed, my first car out of college (a 1988 Mazda 323) had 88 hp. My next car (a 2613lb, 1993 Plymouth Sundance) had 93 hp. My 2434lb, 2000 Mazda Protege had 105hp, and my 2255lb, 2001 Hyundai Accent had 92 hp.

What that says to me is, that since those powers were more than enough for those cars, for a professional reviewer to suggest that 101 hp is not enough for the Fiat or that the Fiat feels sluggish and slow, what they really seem to be saying to me is that they really just being short sighted, and making a knee jerk reaction to how the numbers for the Fiat compare to other cars currently on the market rather than what may be needed.

Specifically, I have never had my car much above 3100 rpm, and looking at a HP vs RPM curve for the engine in my car, that suggests that I've been nowhere near the total power output capability of the engine. (I suspect that alot of other drivers are in a similar situation). Yet, during all the time I've driven my car I've never really been wanting for power, or had trouble keeping up with traffic, nor have I ever bounced off the rev limiter in 2nd gear trying to pass a car. In fact I'm usually out of 2nd gear by 20 to 22mph, since I tend to try and shift in accordance with the recommendations in the owner's manual for good efficiency.

Overall, I suspect that if the driver was trying to pass another car in 2nd gear, they may have been trying to push the car further than they needed in 2nd and maybe should have been in a higher gear, and that maybe if they were to try and drive the car in accordance with its capabilities rather than trying to force the car to match how they think it should be driven, they might find that the car and engine are in fact very capable.

As for seating stiffness and ride quality, I suspect that this is something that will vary from person to person, depending on what they like but I have found them both to be very good to me. Overall, the only thing in the review that I found that I more or less agree with, is that driver side viewing over the shoulder can be limited, but this can be addressed by careful use of the mirrors and careful driving. In all other ways I think that visibility is actually quite good.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

Regards

Pat
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
225 Posts
Consumer Reports is a reputable magazine. I trust them when I'm buying a refrigerator, stove, air conditioner, iron, etc. But (you knew there had to be a but), I wouldn't be buying an Abarth if I considered a car an appliance.

Personally, I feel the regular 500 is underpowered. However, that's one opinion (everyone has one) and can be rectified (in my case), by waiting for the Abarth. OTOH, the 500 is a rocketship compaired to our stock '65 Beetle. But ithe Bug is fine around here at 45-50 mph.

I also admit to enjoying driving a car that you don't see every day (we have a 2006 MINI S, 1994 SAAB convertible, 1965 Beetle, HD Road King, and our bland 2003 LS430 for trips). That's just for 2 people. Sooooo, yes, I'm a car nut. Oh, and the car with the lowest mileage is the SAAB, the rest have over 100k (except HD) and the only auto is the Lexus. I choose FIAT Abarth and I have spare vehicles if the FIAT does give me grief and the closest dealer is 135 miles away. I can just about guarantee I'll have the only one within 50 square miles... I mean, a 2-wheel drive pickup is the reigning sports car in this neck of the world. ;)

That's why they sell so many different cars. I love choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
433 Posts
I am certain the writer drives a beige camry with a big dent in the rear bumper...

really, they bounced the rev limiter in 2nd gear trying to pass somebody ?

learn2drive nub
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,460 Posts
I think the car is very quiet on the highway. Visibility to me is really good. ( I drive a noisy smart car too! You can't see past the B pillar, on it!) I do notice you stretch your arms out to the steering wheel. (Italian arms-straight-out driving position) Good bad, its fine with me. For a 21 grand car, it fantastic! The Fiesta and Mazda, are just water down Honda Fit want to be' s. I like a car with personality. The 500 has that! I really love this little car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
343 Posts
I agree with everything CR said.

The Mini is indeed a rocket next to the 500. The Fiesta and Mazda2 are bigger and use less gas. Our cars are slow. Driving position is sorta weird. It's a narrow car, too. They are mostly right.

I may be a nutjob, but I love a car that talks to me, though. A car that has some sort of personality. I love small cars, too. Cute is good in my book. There were a bunch of trade-offs I had to make - I just knew I'd go down in performance in a big way from my tweaked Turbo-5. But the Fiat speaks to me, it has a lot of character. I love driving it. I can live with its lack of performance, its interior materials, and every other shortcoming. But I know plenty of people wouldn't be able to; more power to them. If a Camry serves them right, good for them.

I love my car, and I don't care CR doesn't recommend it. Actually, as I said before, I fully agree with them. It's not a car for everyone. But it's a car for me, and that's what really matters. :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,120 Posts
I can really only agree with the lack of power, I do think it would have been better to be nearer 130HP or so, the left shoulder view is an issue but we have mirrors and they work great once you adjust to the blind spot eliminator portion which takes only a drive or two to adjust to, otherwise it is a quiet well equipped and comfy ride that puts a smile on my face. When Rob gets done with some of the aftermarket goodies I will "fix" the only "issue" I see with the car, wish I could have waited for the Abarth but my Daily Driver was totaled in a tornado and I needed something to replace it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
Wow only surprises me because I have had a Mini (base model) and I don't think it beats the 500 (sport). My Mini rattled like a bucket of bolts and was in the shop way too much. So far my 500 is tight and a blast to drive. Next year we will see even more variations of the 500.

Oh well...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
765 Posts
A somewhat strange review/commentary. I find it hard to understand how you hit the rev limiter in 2nd gear trying to pass another car....someone should explain to him there is this thing called 3rd gear. :eek:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
470 Posts
Let em say what they want... this car is still faster than my 94 Alfa Spider was. I am indifferent about negative press. I will take the exclusivity as long as it lasts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
I have found that CR is NOT always right. I subscribe to print and internet. Always read what they say, but then make my own decision.
Really not bothered by revue and has no effect on my feelings about my Sport.
I think these auto revues need to be written by someone who knows what a tach. is for. It just doesn't fill a space on the dash.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
148 Posts
I take Consumer Reports reviews more seriously than C&D, R&T, and the like; but to base purchase on 1 review is fool-hardy. I prefer to read multiple reviews from trusted sources, my personal favorite is TTAC.com, and I did all that before buying the car. I enjoy seeing reviews that aren't all positive, it provides balance. But at the end of the day it all comes down to personal choice. If it was all about reviews than Chevy would have sold 0 Aveos and Hyundai/Kia would never have moved an Accent/Rio (before the 2012 model).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
614 Posts
I have found that CR is NOT always right. I subscribe to print and internet. Always read what they say, but then make my own decision.
Really not bothered by revue and has no effect on my feelings about my Sport.
I think these auto revues need to be written by someone who knows what a tach. is for. It just doesn't fill a space on the dash.
Exactly, they have definitely crapped the bed more than once.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
433 Posts
I would take Top Gear's recommendation over Consumer Reports every time unless I was buying a toaster, electric razor, etc. The continued existence of Consumer Reports only confirms that Camry and Accord drivers are still searching for that perfect cup holder. the 500 is not the perfect car for everyone, but I would say it is great for what it is, as well as what it isn't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Despite all the pros and cons that people cite two things I have learned since buying my 2012 Mocha Latte. Firstly folks can't stop looking at it, asking questions, giving the thumbs up, etc. Secondly everytime I drive it I have a smile on my face - take that all you consumer reporters.

Michael in Vancouver, BC, Canada
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Each time my father in law runs to his CR magazine for advice, I remind myself that this is the group that recommended the Yugo. And then I laugh.

I've never once consulted those zealots for advice on anything. All my appliances and televisions, etc. work well and last. Oh, I did have trouble with a VCR years ago. I guess that was the CR karma bus kicking my ***. :::rolling eyes:::
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
My favorite cars over the years have been my current Fiat 500, My Jeep CJ7, my VW Golf, and my Fiat X1/9. I don't know what CR said about the X1/9, but they've trashed all the others. In the 500 review, I agree rear visibility is not great. I, however, find the driving position very comfortable (not as much as the X1/9, but nothing is). Hitting the the rev limiter in second gear does speak to serious driver error. I haven't got anywhere near red line yet in any gear in 2500 miles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
475 Posts
Wow only surprises me because I have had a Mini (base model) and I don't think it beats the 500 (sport). My Mini rattled like a bucket of bolts and was in the shop way too much. So far my 500 is tight and a blast to drive. Next year we will see even more variations of the 500.

Oh well...
I've had 3 MINIs, one supercharged and two turbos. These cars were faster than the FIAT by a long shot but not more fun.
My two turbo cars were plagued with problems; BMW bought one back in a lemon case and left me at the alter on the second one.
I hate BMW and would never ever tell a friend to darken a dealer's door...

Consumer Reports is a publication predicated upon consumers' fears. Their criteria for analysis is different than an enthusiast's. They consider vehicular transportation as a necessary evil, a means to an end, point "A" to point "B" with as little intrusion from the vehicle as possible.
They have no passion for the road; they are vapid spectors, soul-less, automatons with a trembling audience.

We, on the other hand, are not timid people. Our cars have personalities, just as we do. They communicate with us, with mankind, with nature, & with the road.
We are enlightened, vital, leaders in the new vehicular Renaissance.

Would The Most Interesting Man in the World drive an Accord? I think not.
Would he drive a Cinquecento? Yes; Rosso with brown leather.

Please chill the Chianti and we'll play some Bocce while the Philistines at CR hide in the shadows and prattle on about the merits of their 4-wheeled appliances.
 
1 - 20 of 60 Posts
Top