Nimble, responsive driving feel; good gas mileage; Abarth model's track-ready performance; flamboyant exterior; practical, stylish interior
The FIAT 500 is offered in two body styles, as well as with several different powertrains. Base models get a 101-horsepower, 1.4L MultiAir 4-cylinder engine, and a choice between a 5-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. Turbo models get a 135-horsepower turbocharged version of the 1.4 while Abarth and 500L models get a 160-horsepower version of the turbocharged 1.4. Both of those models are standard with the 5-speed manual, while the 6-speed automatic is optional. The 500e is powered by a 111-horsepower electric motor. All 500s are front wheel-drive.
Customers don't need to select one of the turbocharged models in order to tap into the 500's fun-to-drive qualities. With quick-ratio electric power steering and a light, nimble driving feel, the FIAT 500 is very sporty and maneuverable at city speeds, yet stable on the highway.
The 2015 FIAT 500 is offered in Pop and Lounge models for the entire lineup, but coupes are also offered in Sport, Sport Turbo and Abarth variants.
Pop models are priced with other affordable, efficiency-minded small hatchbacks but do include Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and audio streaming, an auxiliary input, iPod controls, cruise control, a trip computer and power windows, locks and mirrors. 500c Pop models also get ParkSense rear park assist, as well as a wind deflector and integrated spoiler -- in addition, of course, to a dual-layer cloth soft top.
Lounge models are really the next choice up for those who don't want to go the performance route with their 500. Both 500 and 500c Lounge models include special chromed accents in front and in back plus fog lamps, a security alarm, a fixed glass roof (in coupes), 9-spoke cast-aluminum wheels, premium cloth seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, Sirius XM satellite radio, and an upgraded 276-watt, 6-speaker sound system.
The Sport level gets a long list of performance-related upgrades, such as a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust, firmer steering calibration, red-painted brake calipers, fog lamps, additional cladding and aerodynamic bodywork, plus sport-styled seating and a sport steering wheel. These models also get the premium sound system.
Lounge models do give a taste of both personalities however, as they offer a Sport mode that with the press of a button make throttle response sharper.
The FIAT 500L is offered in Easy and Trekking trims in addition to the Pop and Lounge models.
Easy is a step up from Pop, and includes features like a media hub, 16-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone climate control, an auto dimming rearview mirror, rear park assist and a backup camera. Trekking models feature unique front and rear fascias as well as uniquely upholstered seats and 17-inch wheels.
FIAT 500 Sport Turbo models get the 135-horsepower, turbocharged version of the 1.4L MultiAir engine, along with a sport-tuned exhaust, larger CV joints and upgraded brakes. The suspension is tuned for stronger performance and in back there's a unique lower control arm arrangement to aid handling. The Turbo also gets a set of appearance upgrades on the outside, including Gloss Black headlamp, taillamp and parking-lamp bezels, a black-accented rear diffuser, bolder side skirts, a special 'twin-nostril' front fascia, a liftgate-mounted spoiler and big 16-inch black-painted alloy wheels. On the inside, all Turbos get sport seating, Argento-stitching for trims and gray/black interior upholsteries. In Sport or Sport Turbo models, you can upgrade to heated leather seats in a black/black or red/black theme.
Abarth models add even more performance to the Sport Turbo, with a specially tuned 160-horsepower version of that engine, plus an Abarth-tuned suspension, that includes Koni Frequency Selective Dampers, and upgraded brakes -- plus a raspier exhaust note that lets this model be known both from inside the car and from a distance.
The "Beats by Dr. Dre" audio system available in both 500 and 500c models offers a high-definition experience with a special Beats Audio digital sound processing algorithm plus an 8-inch dual-voice-coil subwoofer in the trunk and a 368-watt, 8-channel amplifier.
For 2015, the Fiat 500 family sees mostly minor changes. A new 6-speed automatic transmission is key among them, optional on Abarth model. A new instrument panel features a 7-inch display with thin-film-transistor (TFT) technology. Bluetooth streaming audio is new as well.
The FIAT 500L is new for 2014. The 500L adds two more doors and lot more practicality to the successful FIAT 500 formula. With much more interior space, getting five people comfortably into a 500L is a breeze. At the same time 500L remains light and nimble, still boasting extremely good mileage numbers.
FIAT has also released the 500e in select markets. The 500e is the all-electric version of the FIAT 500, maintaining all of the 500's charm in a more environmentally friendly package. It is currently only sold in California.
The FIAT 500 is a small 4-seater with cute looks and great fuel economy. It's relatively inexpensive, but does have some upscale pretentions, with some trims competing directly with rivals like the MINI Cooper S.
Like much more expensive Italian cars, the FIAT 500 offers more customization potential than is typical for an inexpensive small car. With a FIAT Studio system at dealerships, buyers can customize with interior and exterior accessories, striping packages and more.
FIAT 500 Abarth models also live up to the "small but wicked" approach that inspired the 1960s-era performance models before. The idea is to offer high performance in a small car, with a dash of Italian exotic personality and pedigree.
Safety is also a strong point for the 500; it's been named an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick.
Vehicle Price: 21,325.00
*Estimated payments are for informational purposes only and don't account for acquisition fees, destination charges, tax, title, and other fees and incentives or represent a financing offer or guarantee of credit from the seller.
Equipment that may affect values (standard equipment is pre-selected):
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