The diminutive Fiat 500 debuts in America with a quirky, cute design and exceptional fuel efficiency. While a bit on the small side for the taste of some Americans, the peppy Fiat 500 has plenty to offer for those who don't mind tight quarters. If you like the looks of the MINI Cooper or Smart fortwo, then the 2012 FIAT 500 should be on your list of cars to take on a test drive. Keep reading to learn more about the styling, specs and fuel efficiency of the new Fiat subcompact.
Styling: 2012 Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 takes a cue from the MINI Cooper and goes out of its way to deliver plenty of customization options. Car shoppers have the ability to choose from 14 different exterior colors. Racing stripes and checker decals are also available for added customization. Whatever combination you come up with, it's easy to become enamored with the rounded bubble motif that this vehicle delivers.
On the inside, the Fiat's small dimensions make things noticeably tight in the rear seat (adults will definitely be clamoring to call "shotgun"). However, the front seat is roomier than the exterior suggests, which will likely make the Fiat more than comfortable for those who do most of their driving without a full car. In terms of cargo, the Fiat 500 offers a scant 9.5 cubic feet of trunk space. Although, the rear seat can be folded down to offer a maximum of 30.1 cubic feet of storage (surprisingly, this figure beats both the MINI Cooper and Smart fortwo).
Performance: 2012 Fiat 500
So far, reviewers have been giving high marks for the Fiat's fun-to-drive factor. While not particularly sporty, the vehicle does offer pretty good handling and adequate power. The sole engine option available is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes the most of 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft. of torque.
Of course, the small size of both the engine and the vehicle itself result in exceptional fuel figures. At its best, the Fiat 500 delivers 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway (33 mpg combined). Choose an automatic transmission, and those numbers drop to 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway (30 mpg combined). These figures beat out just about every other subcompact on the road.
Safety: 2012 Fiat 500
Safety is often a concern when it comes to small vehicles. To assuage these concerns, Fiat has outfitted the 500 with a long list of standard safety features. All models come complete with seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), anti-lock brakes, stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and traction control. The 2012 Fiat 500 has not yet been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Pricing and Features: 2012 Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 is competitively priced with an initial asking price of $15,500. All base models come standard with keyless entry, air conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat and six-speaker stereo system. Compared to other vehicles at this price point, this list of starting features is very competitive.
A Fiat 500 Sport model delivers sporty upgrades such as firmer suspension, tuned steering, spoiler, sport seats and more. The 500 Lounge takes a more luxurious slant, and is available with exterior chrome accents, fixed glass roof, rear parking sensors and leather upholstery. Both the base and Lounge trims are available with a convertible top. Base price for the 2012 Fiat 500 convertible is set at $19,500.