Like most car blogs, we’ve probably written too much about the Fiat 500, but the car keeps making news, and the MINI vs. 500 comparisons keep proliferating. They are wrong, by the way, as the cars are really in two different niches. A better comparison would be the Mazda2.
Anyhow, Fiat clobbered the competition to win International Engine of the Year award for its potent 2-cylinder TwinAir, 85-hp, high-torque engine. It’s fun to drive, has very low CO2 output and high fuel economy. And there may be a “tweaked, sport-orientated 105 bhp derivative” in the offing.
Naturally, we won’t get the TwinAir in the U.S., as Fiat gives us only the 1.4-liter four-cylinder (101 hp, 98 lb-ft of torque), which, according to most reviewers, is enough—but just enough.
The Cabrio (500C) has just arrived, with a motorized roll-back cloth roof that’s clever and keeps the body structure intact. There’s little wind noise, and you can roll it back to half-open at speeds up to 50 mph. Only problem is the $4,000 additional cost. Yikes.
And the top comes in different colors. The whole deal with the 500 is customization: 14 exterior colors, 21 trim items, 12 separate interiors—and now Gucci (photos at top and right) is getting into the act with its own separate version: black or white only, with stripes of course, and special wheels and interior. Oh yeah, brake calipers are green.
Now, many of us will laugh at this kind of frou-frou, but the Cabrios are selling beyond expectation, and who knows how many takers there will be for the Gucci? It’s on sale now in Italy for €17,000 ($24,200 U.S.), in Europe in July, and in the rest of the world by year’s end.
The appeal of the 500 is something beyond its cuteness. It’s the fact that it’s different, and the Gucci version epitomizes this. The basic car has gotten good reviews and, remember, it’s a city car, not a sports car. The one area that has been criticized is the interior, in particular the dash, with its ridiculous concentric instrument cluster (right).
But if you can do without all the frills, the base coupe (Pop version) starts at $15,500, and unlike the Fiats of old, it seems well put together.
Well, which one would you buy—the base Pop, the Lounge Cabrio ($23,500), or the Gucci ($??)?