Fiat was founded in Italy in 1899. During the 114 years since, the company has manufactured automobiles, train engines, military vehicles, and aircraft. Fiat sold many models in North America, but, despite its global appeal, the company exited the North American market a few decades ago. After the acquisition of a large stake in Chrysler, Fiat decided to re-enter the market. The Fiat 500 was the model chosen to tackle this tough, highly competitive market.
The 2013 model year features five trim levels for the Fiat 500 including the: Pop, Sport, Lounge, Abarth, and the t Turbo. The Pop, Lounge, and Abarth can be ordered as convertibles. All convertibles are given a C designation before the name, so a Pop becomes a C Pop, and so on.
Fiat 500 Powertrain
All of the trim levels feature a 1.4L four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. There is an available six-speed automatic on some trims. All models are front wheel drive. In the Pop, Lounge, and Sport the four banger produces 101 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque. In those models, you can expect a 0-60 of 10.5 seconds from the manual and 12 seconds from the optional automatic.
When the 1.4L is treated for use in the t Turbo, power increases to 135 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. The manual is the only available transmission in this trim package and rightly so for a turbo. The t turbo will get you from 0-60 in a sporting 8.1 seconds.
The Abarth is the sportiest of the trim levels, when engine response is all that you consider. The 1.4L in this trim level produces 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, which is good enough for a 0-60 of 7.1 seconds.
Fiat 500 Fuel Efficiency
The Pop, Sport, and Lounge trim levels are the most fuel efficient. According to EPA estimates they offer 31 mpg in town and 40 mpg over the road. That works out to 34 mpg in combo driving when paired with the manual transmission. All respectable numbers for the class in which they compete. The numbers produced by the automatic are disappointing, though. Fuel efficiency drops to 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. These numbers do not compete with other vehicles within the 500’s group.
Fiat 500 Safety
A few of the standard safety features of the 2013 Fiat 500 include stability and traction control, multiple airbags, and anti-lock disc brakes. The standard airbag system includes a driver knee airbag, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. The 500 Sport is able to decelerate from 60 to a stop within 115 feet on dry pavement. The t Turbo takes 125 feet, but that is still an acceptable stopping distance.
When tested by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 2012 model received a sketchy three out of five stars for overall crash protection. It performed well in frontal and side impact protection, but only received two stars for rear impact protection, dragging on the overall rating.
When the same model was tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it was awarded the top score of ”Good” for frontal offset and side impact protection. This is consistent with the findings of the NHTSA. Again, rear impact protection was not highly rated.
Fiat 500 Customer Satisfaction
The 2013 Fiat 500 has received rave reviews from owners. Most point to the sporty feel of the handling. On the downside, the majority of owners point out that the automatic is a bit sluggish. This is the same complaint that professional reviewers had. All of the pros who drove the 500 recommended the five-speed manual. Additionally, several owners say that the 500 would benefit from side moldings to prevent slight damage from parking lot mishaps.
Overall, the Fiat 500 is a great car for the small car enthusiast. Many people have drawn positive comparisons between it and the Mini.
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