Fiat is back in America with a bang - The Fiat 500 is the first car Fiat has sold in the USA since the early 1980s. The 500 has actually been available in foreign countries since 2007, but the U.S. got its first taste in Dec. 2010. I’ve talked about this before, but cars are more than just four wheels and an engine to a large portion of the population. The Fiat 500 is packed with style, and it is for someone that doesn’t just want ‘transportation’ to get around. Yes, the 500 is extremely diminutive, but it doesn’t feel cramped on the inside at all. It actually has a backseat and even trunk space in the cabriolet version that I drove. To give you a size comparison, it is about three feet longer than the Smart Fortwo and a few inches shorter than a Mini Cooper. The 500 in America is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine mated to either a 6-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual. While it is only rated at 99hp, the car was still a blast to drive. I originally thought that the manual would be required for a “sporty” feel, but I was pleasantly surprised with the auto. It responded extremely well, and the engine provided plenty of get up and go on the freeway. The top speed is above 100mph, and it had no problem hanging with the big boys on I-10 between Houston and San Antonio. The ‘c’ on the 500c stands for cabriolet, which is the model that provides a near-convertible experience from the giant sliding fabric roof. With the top back and the windows down, it provided a near convertible experience with the safety of a coupe-like side profile. My test model was the highest trim, Lounge, which provides things like alloy wheels, Bose stereo, fog lamps and other things, but what really impressed my passengers was luxury leather package which for $1,250 provides heated and premium leather seats available in an awesome Rosso (Red) color. Price: Base model (called Pop) 500 starts at $15,500. As-tested 500c Lounge $25,750 (fully loaded) Gas mileage: 30 city / 38 highway Upsides: A blast to drive, look different than everything else on the road. Downsides: For male drivers, it can be perceived as a “cute” car, so just stick with the more masculine colors or get the hot rod Abarth edition with 160hp coming later this year. Wrap-up: I got to spend nearly 1,000 miles in the Fiat, and I enjoyed every mile I had. The car has a certain level of intangibles that makes it a very rare complete package. It definitely is not a car for everyone, but if you do mostly city driving and want to stray off the bland path of average, then the Fiat is a wonderful and affordable choice. Fun Fact: Fiat is an Italian brand, and they have partnered with Gucci to design a special called 500 by Gucci. It is available in both black and white with all sorts of custom design features incorporating the famous Gucci green and red stripes. The 500 by Gucci is in limited production, but is available now. I highly recommend checking out the photos on www.fiatusa.com.

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