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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
took a trip to wisconsin today, so i stopped at highland park fiat in chicagoland on the way home. i drove a pop 5 speed manual.

quick impressions:

-smaller than i expected from pictures, but the back seat is usuable. i have two larger dogs, and i wonder if there is a way to remove the upright portions of the back seats to create a flat load area.

-tons of legroom. i am 6'1" and with the seat all the way back i felt it was too far of a reach to the pedals. i was worried about a non telescoping steering wheel, but it was easy to reach with my legs in a very comfortable position. the seats had decent side bolstering and the fabric looked of a better quality than what is in my 09 corolla and what ive seen of the new compacts as well.

-ive seen complaints about cheap plastics. this car was a $15,500 car, and i really thought the interior was nice looking (it was the darker interior). the color matching dash is a great touch and gives the interior some cool flavor. overall the interior just had a nice warm feeling to it.
....the white interiors, not so much.

-the center speedo cluster is very upscale looking considering the cars price. i like the one in the pop better without the white background behind the speedo section, but wouldnt get the sport just for that.

-the drive was short. no freeway as it was rushour and I-94 was a parking lot. i only got up to 45 mph on some local roads. a bit of a choppy ride, but i was just coming out of my corolla which has a real soft ride so that probably skewed my perception.

-acceleration seemed adequate and i didnt really push it at all (under 3500 rpm's). i will ususally be driving alone, so without the 200 lb salesman who insisted on riding along it will feel even more adequate.

- i have no opinion on the handling. just didnt have any opportunity to feel that out.

- a bit noisy on accleration, but id say less than the yaris i owned or honda fit i test drove last week

-noise at 45 mph cruise was well subdued...far better than my yaris or the fit. i really wanted to get it to 70 mph to get a feel for the cabin noise at that speed.

-i examined the pop and sport model side by side, front to back. there just isnt enough difference to justify the extra $2000 extra in my mind. the pop looks virtually the same....cruise, power locks and windows and ac are my main wants....at $15,500 i think this car is a good value over a yaris or fit. granted, there is more room in those cars behind the front seats, but the 500 just looks and feels like more car.

-reliability..........who knows. i pray fiat has built a decent car and that the powertrain is able to go 200k without too much hassle. (i dont normally go for these, but if they have an extended warranty, especially on the powertrain, i may just feel better to have it). i keep reading about how it was car of the year in europe and such, but it seems there should be some concrete reliability data by now as it has been there a few years.

-finally, and best of all the manual transmission was terrific. the clutch pedal is sooo light and the shifter is mooth but no vague at all. the throws are a touch long but the great position of the shifter makes up for that.

a definite issue is my right leg really needing a bit more room where the center gear shift housing sits. i would have to have a soft pad affixed there...otherwise there will be definite discomfort.

im really going to have to put one through its paces before making any decisions.
 

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Great review! Two notes I wanted to make:

1.) Check out the Pop and Sport content differences and make sure you are comparing what you get standard for the cost. I've seen that most of our Pops, when built to contain some of the handiest amenities, actually come in at a higher price than the Sport models.

2.) I am with you on the right leg room thing. I do drive one and got used to it fairly quickly, but in the beginning, it was odd to have the cluster there. (I had another big (relatively big, that is) car that had the same issue, but after awhile you don't realize it at all.)

If we can help with any other questions you might have, or if you want to compare the two, feel free to call our store.

Toll-free( 888-575-3277).

Thanks for this thorough review!

Go FIAT!
Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great review! Two notes I wanted to make:

1.) Check out the Pop and Sport content differences and make sure you are comparing what you get standard for the cost. I've seen that most of our Pops, when built to contain some of the handiest amenities, actually come in at a higher price than the Sport models.

2.) I am with you on the right leg room thing. I do drive one and got used to it fairly quickly, but in the beginning, it was odd to have the cluster there. (I had another big (relatively big, that is) car that had the same issue, but after awhile you don't realize it at all.)

If we can help with any other questions you might have, or if you want to compare the two, feel free to call our store.

imo.

Toll-free( 888-575-3277).

Thanks for this thorough review!

Go FIAT!
Ryan
thanks. quite honestly, the pop model has everything that will satisfy me without any additions, and at $16k including destination its a good value. id be ordering a pop with no extras.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
drove one tonight at highway speeds.

couple more impressions.

-maybe its just me, but i kept shifting into 3rd geat too early (felt kind of bogged down in 3rd). it felt like it was time to go from 2 to 3. i guess im not holding 2nd gear long enough? 1-2 are relatively low gears in my corolla....they seem kinda high in this car.

-ive driven pretty much every car in or near this class....yaris, fit, mini, fiesta, mazda 2....im real impressed at the quietness of the cabin at 70 mph. it is without a doubt quieter than all of those cars. you would never guess the engine is turning at 2900 rpm's.

the data ive found shows the 500 noise level at 70 mph cruise to be 68.2 db.......this is quieter than even the cars in the compact class.

i guess fiat was really worried about americans complaining about noise in this car.
 

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I think they were more worried about an Italian family of four being able to all talk at the same time inside the cabin. :p

I had pretty much the same experience with you on the gearing. I think I'll take another test drive and wind it out more to see how it goes closer to redline.
 

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Found the same observations on the shifting. Here's what I found out: Shift at 4k RPM or juuuuust after. It whines a bit more, but that's where the peak torque is, at 4000rpm. A nice surprise with this: my mileage hasn't gone down! I tried a very, very conservative shifting approach, too, but lost mileage because it's not creating the best momentum for the next gear to pick up when you shift too early.

(PS. The sound at 4k is really nice, too!) :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8

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I rode in one the other day with my Mom, as she is looking at possibly getting one.

Definitely fun little cars. She loved the body color dash insert and the white steering wheel. These may have really struck a cord with fashionable females in the US.

Driving dynamics were pretty much on par with what I was expecting. The engine will rev for days and days, and unless you are drag racing, it will get you to speed in an orderly fashion. The car maneuvers well and I was impressed with the Bose audio.

I am also 6'4" and was verrrry impressed with how roomy the car felt with the seat all the way back. That isn't practical for 4 passengers, but I would rarely ever have that many people in my car anyways.

Personally, I will be waiting for the Abarth. I am currently in a SRT4 Caliber and need a little more go with my ride.
 

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Azzurro, I'm with Panther and yourself on the color. To quote my girlfriend, "Wow, that is SO much more than "blue"!)
 

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Ryan L ... what dealership do you work at? I'm curious to see a completely base model Pop, as all I've seen in dealer inventories are significantly optioned up so far.
 
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