Fiat 500: Super Cool or Huge Disappointment?


The Fiat 500 is like a mythical beast in the United States.

We can read about them and see pictures on the Internet and in magazines, but only a few people here have ever actually seen or touched one.

On the other side of the Atlantic, they’re as abundant as mosquitoes, and probably just as irritating.

America’s fascination with the 500 will soon get a reality check, though, as Chrysler’s partnership with the Italian brand will result in the Fiat-badged 500 arriving in Chrysler showrooms in 2010.

There are many who will rejoice. I’m not going to argue that it isn’t a cool-looking little car, in a MINI Cooper kind of way. In fact, I believe it’ll sell here just as well as the Cooper, even as just a novelty item. I call it that because the 500 will likely be the only Fiat-badged car ever sold in the U.S. (future Fiat/Chrysler vehicles will be sold as Chryslers).

Fiat doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation here, though, after walking away with its head hanging 25 years ago. But in those 25 years, the myth of an uber-cool Fiat in Europe has resulted in a resurgence of interest in America.

Here’s your dose of reality, though:

Fiat just placed dead last in J.D. Powers’ U.K. Satisfaction Study.

I wonder if Chrysler knew that before they pinned their hopes of survival on the least satisfactory brand in the U.K.

I’m thinking Lexus, Toyota, and Honda don’t much to worry about with a Fiat/Chrysler alliance. Do you?



  1. We have several 500’s here at work as well as the Abarth version and they are, indeed, a blast to drive. (Especially the Abarth.)

    I suspect the new generation of mini’s will generate quite a bit of interest among commuters, urban dwellers and younger folks. The GOV can stimulate interest in these cars by allowing them to access HOV lanes with only one occupant. I think of them as motorcycles without the death wish.

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