2012 Fiat 500 Sport, an AutoWeek Drivers Log Car Review

When you think about BMW, what do you think of first? Which aspects of BMW are important, which are essential, and which ones can you take or leave? You be the judge.
2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport Photo by: David Arnouts 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Photo by David Arnouts.

Published on 6/21/2011

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EXECUTIVE EDITOR--AUTOWEEK.COM BOB GRITZINGER: This 2012 Fiat 500 Sport is a attractive small runabout, by means of marginal presentation but a far above the ground fun issue for the money. I've complete the cerebral comparison to the Mini Cooper, but so as to no longer earth apropos. The improved measure strength be after that to the Smart Fortwo, one more attractive small runabout by means of marginal presentation but a far above the ground fun factor, or the Chrysler PT Cruiser (ditto). Styling, bringing insignia as of exterior to in,within trim, low authority output, high-quality petroleum economy, softened ride, type of rubbery shifters or balky transmissions are a number of of the ordinary character of cars in petroleum category.

Overall, the car isn't bad. It's now not a impressive slam similar to the new Mini on performance, or a hit similar to the PT Cruiser, construct corporation us retro-cool styling and functionality, or a quirk of nature similar to the Smart. So as,at the same time as the car determination sell initially on fun issue alone, it probably wants to win in a few additional categories, similar to presentation by means of the Abarth edition, to stay similar humming downward the road.

This car determination major the pump for Chrysler, but the genuine gushers be hypothetical to approach in prospect small, midsize and crossover vehicles as of Fiat.

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I'm suddenly excited concerning the prospect of Italian cars in petroleum country. I approached the Fiat by means of a number of trepidation, in fraction since I had to one way or another squeeze two youngster seats eager on the back. That herculean task accomplished, I squeezed eager on the driver's seat and exhausted concerning five notes now figuring out anywhere all was. Controls aren't anywhere we're second-hand to not any in excess of here, but on one occasion I exposed the seat recliner after that to the middle console, all was healthy and I establish the Fiat fairly comfortable.

Comfortable in an Italian sense, so as to is. Somehow, despite all the advances in center ergonomics and manage adjustability, the consequence is arms-outstretched, legs-bent now similar to in any vintage Alfa Romeo.

Similarly Italian is the engine. It large as if it can rev to 12,000 rpm (7,500 is the optional top spin) and in fact moves the car the distance end to end of nicely if you stay it on top of 3,500 rpm. The shifter large rubbery as Bob noted, but it in fact fake its job healthy on one occasion you get familiar to the feel. I by no means missed a shift or had to believe concerning come again? cog I was in.

Oddities comprise the steering, construct is nicely weighted for low-speed heavy but after that large as although it eliminates authority help at moderate speeds. On the freeway the result was unnoticeable, but present now a few era at what time I changed lanes or quick a rapid twist anywhere I predictable a sure steering sense and was met by means of amazing completely different.

The brakes grab far above the ground but drag the small car downward by means of confidence. The big sunroof extra the cockpit approximately a adaptable sense by means of the windows down, and, fairly frankly, it's now a fun put to use time.

Would I buy a 500? No way--too feminine. But it's a blast to drive, and I love the information so as to the Italianness hasn't person's name engineered out of the new Italian cars pending to our market.

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This 2012 Fiat 500 Sport is too attractive by half, perhaps, and you actually contain to place on it and now row the gearbox to stay the obsession moving. That can be fun though, and it's absolutely flingable.

One obsession so as to stood out to me was so as to the car was in fact a nice freeway cruiser--way quieter supposed I consideration it counting be, by means of negligible tire noise. I consideration it counting be buzzy and noisy but I was wrong.

Fiat's strength, in my opinion, has historically person's name its little cars similar to the Topolino, the primary 500s, etc., and petroleum car carries on the tradition. It's a Panda underneath, doesn't sense fairly as sharp as a Mini, but is motionless huge at zipping approximately the city.

I liked the center by means of the body-color dash, and I consideration the seats now comfortable.

Overall, petroleum is a cool car.

NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The stares supposed it all petroleum weekend. People pointed. People gawked. Some populace laughed. It's a fun, cool car, but a black-and-chrome Dodge Charger petroleum is not. But it fake sketch attention, and petroleum yellow livery surely adds to the impact.

When I primary was handed the keys, I consideration it strength be a daily to put a number of on foot on my own car (a red Charger, actually), but after that I resolved to drive the Fiat for real. That meant captivating it to a wedding by means of temperatures flirting by means of 100 degrees, and creation all of my a variety of errands and trips approximately town. The 500 is additional supposed up to the task, and I actually enjoyed rowing the gears.

For enthusiasts, you just have to be firm on petroleum car to still go,shift at a sensible clip--but that's fun. There's no hesitation in by means of mind. Drop downward a pair gears and ground it. It's a riot. I establish petroleum five-speed to be easy, by means of a well-weighted grasp and smooth takeup. The engine is barely up to the job to go,shift petroleum lithe car, construct checks in at now additional supposed one ton. The steering has nice heaviness and feedback, and car guys determination similar to it mostly. The center is sensibly well-done for a car petroleum inexpensive, and it's smartly laid out.

I speed petroleum way skull of the Smart Fortwo, construct has an awful broadcast and is scary to drive. The Fiat is closer to a Mini in so as to it's little car that's sensibly sized, although the 500 motionless become paler a small too little for me.

Here's my argument: One can get a Chevrolet Cruze or a Hyundai Elantra so as to go back at smallest amount 40 mpg transfer on the trim. And persons are real, fit dimension cars so as to don't cost a great deal more. Why drive the 500, or the Fortwo, or still the Honda Fit for so as to matter, at what time you can get a genuine car? You're creation a declaration by means of the Fiat, and it counting be base to park in crowded urban areas. Otherwise, it actually doesn't create intelligence to me.

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ART DIRECTOR CHERYL L. BLAHNIK: This 2012 Fiat 500 Sport is cute. Andy strong-minded it a chick car, but isn't so as to come again? a lot of populace say concerning the Mini Cooper? Anyway, it's a little and hip-looking car. The rounded front and sloping rear end by means of back spoiler provide it a touch of sportiness.

As for the interior, I determination say this: The rear seats are tight. I wrap up a car seat in the rear for my niece and it was a struggle. Thankfully, she enjoyed her ride in the small yellow car.

The drive wasn't no substance which to mark house about. I was expecting amazing akin to a Mini Cooper experience, but I was wrong. This car wants to contain additional authority and be additional responsive, in my opinion, to be a grave small-car contender since the cuteness issue wears off rapidly at what time you're heavy it. Thank goodness petroleum car had a physical to create belongings at smallest amount a small interesting. I do speculate how the automatic-equipped 500s perform. My deduction is not all so as to great.

To the 500's credit, petroleum car counting be a fine urban transporter.

ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: I'll admit, I was charitable forward to receiving eager on the 500. It earth similar to we've person's name trial concerning its impending U.S. arrival for ages now. Looking at the specs, one expects the car to be on the slow side, but if Fiat similar to a chassis setup by means of quick-witted handling reflexes and well-tuned shifter/clutch combination, it counting go a extended way in the direction of creation up for the car's be small of of authority and possibly create it fun.

So was Fiat successful? I can't say it's a total success nor is it a total failure. As expected, the engine is underpowered, and to wring out come again? small it has, you require to actually wind it up. Throttle reply is on the sluggish surface (even by means of the game button pressed, construct allegedly occasion a additional violent throttle calibration). The five-speed physical skin OK shifts, construct aren't slick and exact or sloppy and vague.

The chassis setup by means of the sport-tuned shocks and springs on our tester do give a solid ride approximately town and rolling downward the expressway. As Wes said, cabin isolation isn't semi bad at speed. When I got a possibility to toss it approximately some, it responded healthy by means of the broad (for a car petroleum size) 16-inch rubber on petroleum model. Steering is receptive by means of high-quality feedback and the corpse leftovers healthy forbidden from side to side corners.

I do discover the 500's overall seem intriguing. It's dissimilar and construct a declaration on the road. Our Sport tester stay a liftgate spoiler on the exterior and a few exact center touches to assist ratchet up the game factor, similar to front bucket seats by means of cloth inserts and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

What petroleum car wants is a small additional punch beneath the hood, but really, come again? car wouldn't advantage as of additional power? This chassis can surely grip it. I do eagerly await the arrival of the Abarth account by means of 148 hp.

But for the usual 500, I'll provide it a transitory score for now. Though, I counting be firm pressed not to tell small-car shoppers to save a small additional cash and spring for a bottom Mini Cooper hardtop instead.

ART DIRECTOR TARA KLEIN: For the previous few months, my inquisitiveness was elevated as I frequently observed as,at the same occasion as 2012 Fiat 500s existence form test-driven as,at the same time as on my morning commute. I obtainable how the funky small belongings become paler on the road, and how I counting sense in the driver's seat. When I got the possibility to hop in and discover out for myself, I was pleased.

"Cute" is healthy represented in the Fiat 500's exterior design, and I discover it to be one of the better-looking minute cars out there. It's throwback as,at the same time as existence form present and well-designed, and the center follows suit. The painted board on the dash paired by means of the targetlike go,shift toward to the big gauges creates a physically powerful seem few can match. It just attention fun and attractive at each angle.

As I was creation seat difficult in training for my ride home, I realized petroleum car merely intended you to sit one way: oddly upright. I did get second-hand to it by the occasion the tires hit my driveway, but it was a bit ill at ease at first.

Another ill at ease moment arose at what time I was concerning to merge onto the expressway. I looked rear to create sure my driver's-side blind spot, merely to understand so as to absolutely nothing can be seen as of so as to vantage point. Luckily, Fiat have to contain noticed this, too, since it additional a curved goblet segment on the driver's-side mirror. Again, it was amazing to get familiar by means of as,because I didn't contain my characteristic look-see to lean on at what time changing lanes.

This Fiat oozes fun at what time it moderator to looks, but it slightly fell small at what time it came to the heavy experience. I do contain the similar opinion by means of Wes: Traveling on the expressway was pleasant in the 500, and shifting petroleum obsession was a no-brainer. However, a bit additional authority counting contain complete it a entire new ballgame.

It's cute, it's charming, and it's absolutely distinct. I now desire it hit the street as strongly as it hits by means of eyes.

WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: I had one of as,at the same occasion as out in Los Angeles for a week. Everybody told me it was cute. I'm not in the demographic so as to needs a attractive car. I'm not after that to attractive by any stretch, I now don't desire to drive cute. A burly building employee supposed as of his pickup truck, "That's a attractive car." I told him: "It stay high-quality mileage. High 30s."

The big question, is, is it fun to drive? It is on one occasion you discover so as to game button on the dash. That actually livens belongings up. The physical broadcast isn't bad to operate, either. It theater by means of the fun factor. But the query is, is petroleum additional fun supposed additional cars for petroleum cost and of petroleum size? Of route the Mini is a great deal additional fun to drive but it doesn't count, as,because it costs more. The Smart shouldn't still be careful a car. I don't be acquainted with come again? it is but it's tied by means of the Hummer H1 for the majority awful contrivance in my individual heavy history. The Fiesta shares a cost variety but it's far additional practical, by means of all persons doors and all. Maybe the Scion iQ, but that's not out yet.

So the Fiat 500 sits all alone, attractive as a bug's ear. Who is trade it? I hope a lot of populace do and I hope Fiat succeeds at petroleum time in the U.S., since attention a similar to variety of cars to drive is a high-quality obsession for all of us.

Plus, it's cute.

2012 Fiat 500 Sport

Base Price: $18,000

As-Tested Price: $19,000

Drivetrain: 1.4-liter I4; FWD, five-speed manual

Output: 101 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 98 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

Curb Weight: 2,363 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 33/34.8 mpg

Options: Power sunroof ($850); routine hotness manage by means of micron thread ($150)

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