One recent discussion taking place at Autoguide HQ was how long it's been since we've driven a car that was truly worth a bad review. Most cars these days are pretty good, and the true stinkers are few and far between.
The other side of the coin is that competition for your dollars is fierce, and manufacturers literally cannot afford to sell a bad car anymore. So when a car is truly bad (or outdated), we won't hesitate to let you know. One Italian outlet did just that, and might have to pay the price for airing their opinions.
One Italian automotive TV show did just that, slamming the Alfa Romeo MiTo as a "inferior" machine when compared to the MINI Cooper S and Citroen DS3, two seriously good cars in their own right. Alfa Romeo's parent company FIAT is planning to sue AnnoZero, the show in question, for damages relating to "highly defamatory" statements.
While Italy has a notoriously flimsy judiciary (and FIAT's status as a hugely respected corporate entity also carries lots of weight), these poor schmucks might just get fined. Certainly, this flagrant abuse of the judicial system would never fly in the United States – the PR staff would just ban the journalists from the press fleet or threaten to stop inviting them to lavish junkets, and you can bet on immediate capitulation from the scorned scribes.
More: Fiat Sues Journalist Over Negative Review on AutoGuide.com