Posts from ‘Fiat’
There are a lot of great cars on the market today. They go about the business of transporting people with surprising performance, impressive fuel economy, and historically high levels of refinement and creature comforts. But for the most part, you could wring every drop of personality out of them and there wouldn’t be enough to coat the bottom of the ashtray that the Fiat 500 doesn’t have.
Certainly any number of high-end sports and luxury cars have personality (some might say a snobbish one), but what we’re talking about here are cars could substitute for what the majority of people would otherwise buy.
Although the 500’s price of entry is now up to a little less than $17,000 including destination, that’s for a nicely outfitted car and not much more than you’d pay for a similarly equipped subcompact—that’s not nearly as endearing. The automatic transmission will add a stiff $1,250, but if you’re on the fence, the slick-shifting manual is the better choice. Also offered is a convertible version (it’s really more of a very large sunroof) that starts just over $20,000. Sure it’s small, but the 500 is great fun to drive and delivers most of the positive attributes of a typical subcompact competitor.
Drop the top and drink in that raspy exhaust note. The fun-to-drive nature and great sounds of the Fiat 500 Abarth will soon be available without a roof. Get ready for the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio (meaning cabriolet; i.e., convertible). The 500 Abarth Cabrio, also known as the 500c Abarth, will go on sale in the second quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, here it is in pictures.
Click here to listen to the snarky exhaust note of the 500 Abarth.
Despite being an electric car, the 2013 Fiat 500e looks very much like the conventional Fiat 500 upon which it is based. Your average citizen will likely never guess it runs on electricity instead of gasoline.
Every fall, our staff convenes in a room to duke it out over the year’s Best Buy choices. As might be expected, we don’t always agree. Okay, actually we rarely agree. Our consensus is always that the winners are great vehicles in their respective classes, even though some may think they’re not the best vehicles in their respective classes.
Making the decisions even tougher is that many vehicles don’t fit neatly into one of our 19 different categories. While “crossovers” are typically thought of as bridging the gap between cars and SUVs, there are numerous examples of vehicles that slot between two classes. Almost by definition, that means they may not excel in what we consider to be their class’s expected attributes, and thus they fall under the “also rans.”
To me, at least, that seems unfair. So I’ve assembled a group of cars that are fully worthy of consideration even though they haven’t been voted Best Buys. Note that all the vehicles on this list are cars (another list is forthcoming that will include SUVs), and all start at less than $20,000.
Most automakers have aftermarket parts divisions, but few put theirs as front-and-center as Chrysler does. At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler’s Mopar brand was out in force, with a separate section set aside and plenty of wares on display. For Dodge, SRT Viper, Fiat 500, and Jeep fans, it’s kid-in-a-candy-store time. Check out the pics below. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hot on the heels of the Ram 1500 pickup truck receiving North American Truck of the Year accolades, Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne spent a few minutes with journalists at the North American International Auto Show. Here are some highlights of that conversation:
The state of the U.S. auto industry
“The U.S. market is in healthy shape. The question today is how much over 15 million units 2013 sales will go. It will be the best year for the Chrysler Group since I’ve been here.
“There is a natural rhythm to this market, and record sales years aren’t always a healthy part of that. The American market got into this [recent] mess through unhealthy practices. It’s the worst Ponzi scheme you can think of. Slow steady growth is the best for everyone.
“That said, I may not like what some people are doing with pricing on certain models, but that’s healthy warfare, not crazy incentives.”
On Ram 1500 being named 2013 North American Truck of the Year
“Watch for a number of announcements in 2013, 2014 about how we will strengthen our pickup line.”
Back in 1950, Nash—later one of the building blocks of American Motors—introduced the Rambler, a cute, little (for the time) 4/5-passenger convertible with a top that folded back on rails. It wasn’t the first time somebody would use this trick to make a sedan into ragtop, nor would it be the last. In fact, today’s Fiat 500 Cabrio is just such a car.
Weirdly enough, despite being decades apart, the Rambler and the 500 share something more than a little-used construction technique. The former Chrysler Corporation bought American Motors in 1987. Chrysler’s main aim was to get its hands on AMC’s profitable Jeep lineup, but it also became the holder of the history of its former carmaking rival, including the model names. Then, when Chrysler LLC found itself in bankruptcy in 2009, Italy’s Fiat stepped in to take over control—and get a renewed foothold for its own products in the U.S. That’s where opportunity comes knocking. With “global platforms” being all the rage at multinational car companies like the Fiat/Chrysler combine, it seems to me that the time is right to reintroduce the Rambler by using the 500 Cabrio as a starting point.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat unveiled the new 500L 4-door compact car and two variations on its existing 500: the high-performance 500c Abarth convertible and the electric-powered 500e.
The new vehicle, representing the second nameplate in Fiat’s lineup, is the 500L. It is a 4-door crossover-like wagon that uses the same engine as the Abarth, a high-performance variant of the company’s 500 minicar. That powerplant is paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that behaves much like an automatic. With seating for 5 passengers, it is 26 inches longer and 6 inches taller and wider than a standard 500. It is available in base Easy and top-end Trekking models. The off-road themed Trekking model includes 17-inch wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, flared fenders, and a two-tone interior—though somewhat curiously, all-wheel drive is not offered. Chrysler’s optional Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system features a 5-inch touchscreen, a wireless cell-phone link, streaming audio capability, and voice control. Uconnect 6.5 is an upgraded version, and it boasts a larger, 6.5-inch screen with navigation and a media hub with an SD card reader. The 500L will be available in mid-2013.
Test car came equipped with: “Performance” leather-trimmed high-back front seats, Safety and Convenience Package, sunroof, red mirror caps and body stripes, TomTom plug-in navigation unit, 17-inch white-painted aluminum wheels. Total MSRP with $700 destination = $27,050. (Note: This model is virtually unchanged for 2013.)
Powertrain: 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive.
Acceleration: I can’t find any factory performance claims, but our friends at Car and Driver clocked their Abarth at 6.9 seconds 0-60 mph. That seems a shade optimistic by my seat o’ the pants, but it doesn’t matter because this little pepperpot has ample scoot. It’s sure a lot livelier than the milquetoast 101-horsepower 500s. The Abarth suffers from some expected turbo/throttle lag, so it rewards liberal shifting and revving the engine like crazy. If you’re feeling lazy, though, it’s quite tractable at low speeds in 3rd and 4th gear, even if acceleration from there is leisurely at best. In all, the Abarth 500 is a classic Italian “tuner car,” with a rev-happy engine that gives better than you’d expect, helped by super-short final gearing (in this case a fairly frantic 3:35:1). Happily, shift/clutch effort is all-day light and easy, even for grinding stop-and-go traffic, though I was disappointed by the slightly rubbery yet “metallic” shift action. This car really needs a 6-speed manual transmission for a variety of reasons. It’s available in Europe, but apparently it wouldn’t fit within the stubby nose of the federalized 500. Oh, well . . . .
Inspired by esteemed Consumer Guide Publisher Tom Appel’s entries about what cars Star Trek characters would drive, I figured I would take my own passion for video games and do something similar.
My plan is to split this among the major video game companies: Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. Today we start with “The Big N,” one of the granddaddies of the business. I’ll largely keep within the same framework as the Star Trek entries. Production vehicles only, but I would like to keep the costs to less than $100,000.
Though I didn’t grow up on Mario (ours was a Commodore 64 household), I’ve spent plenty of time with this iconic Italian plumber since his title debut on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. When he’s not flying off to the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach from the evil Bowser (and company), I envision Mario nipping around the tightly packed streets of Turin. What better car for him to do that in than a Fiat 500 Abarth? Its raw exhaust note will draw the attention of every Goomba (the enemy mushrooms) in the area, and its zippy acceleration will easily get him away from danger.