Fiat has launched the online configurator for the new 500 hatchback for the North American market. A variety of colors and trims were on hand, and being surrounded by all of these 500s at once only makes us more eager to get some seat time in the diminutive little Italian Job.
Three trim levels (Pop, Sport and Lounge) will be available, but they will all be powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir engine with 101 hp (75 kW / 102 PS) and 98 lb-ft (133 Nm) of torque. It is connected to a five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic (a U.S. exclusive) is optional.
The engine produces 101 hp and 97 lb-ft of torque, which doesn't sound like huge power, but curb weight is only about 2,400 pounds. Five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions will be offered. The coupe comes first, followed by the convertible in spring 2011. The performance-tuned Abarth comes in early 2012, with the battery-electric 500 rounding out the range in late 2012.
The North American Fiat 500 Sport will have sports suspension, subtly revised front and rear bumper designs, a slightly larger front grille and a revised aerodynamic package including wider sills. This model will also get 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, red brake calipers, a chrome exhaust tip and black shadowline window trim.
Available this spring, the 500 will be priced from $15,500 which is $4,600 less than the MINI Cooper.
Fiat Returns to the United States with the New 500
Fiat is making its comeback to the North American market at the Los Angeles International Auto Show slated to run from 17 to 28 November. Marking its return is the new 500, a statement of style and "Made in Italy" technological innovation, the heir of a model that became legendary as a veritable icon of motoring.
"The Fiat 500 has always been the right car at the right time," stated Laura Soave, manager of the Fiat brand in North America. "With the new Fiat 500 a truly exclusive car in one of the most rapidly growing segments in North America is being introduced. It offers prestigious Italian design, value and efficiency, all smartly calibrated for our market."
The Fiat 500 satisfies the new generations of Americans who want a captivating, customised, ecologically sustainable and technologically advanced vehicle that reflects their image. "Like the historic model, the new Fiat 500 redefines the concept of transportation and gives a new sense to expression and individual opportunities," Soave added. "At a time when America is returning to simplicity with renewed attention focussed on the environment, the new car identifies with the current minimalist bent and offers an advanced and eco-sustainable technology enveloped by an aura of top quality, precision and style."
Produced in Mexico and proposed at a starting price of $15,500, this alluring segment A "four seater" ensures a driving experience and sensations that are unparalleled owing to its ideal size for the city, thrilling driving dynamics, brand-new 1.4 litre MultiAir engine, innovative Blue&Me hands-free communication system and seven airbags supplied as standard (two in front, two window-bags, two side bags and one for protecting the knees), not to mention the reactive head restraints that activate in case of shunting accidents. This package is further perfected with high quality characteristics calibrated for the U.S. market, including the brand-new six-speed automatic transmission.
The Fiat 500 range in the United States offers three trim levels (Pop, Sport and Lounge), one engine type (101 HP 1.4 MultiAir), 14 exterior colours (metallic, pastel colours and with pearly triple-coat finishes), 14 colour combinations and materials for the seats, two interiors (black or ivory) and a complete line of exclusive accessories made by Mopar to further customise one's car, including decal packages, stylish accessories for interiors and exteriors and merchandising in original Fiat style available at local dealers. One of the most interesting contents is the Blue&Me Tom-Tom, the multifunctional portable navigation system with an original design developed for the model with an innovative vehicle integration technology. Among other things, the Fiat 500 customer can make use of the free eco:Drive software application that collects the journey data through the Blue&Me interface of the car and analyses them to give the user handy personalised tips to cut travel costs and the environmental impact of his driving style. Last but not least, the model offers a standard total warranty of four years/50,000 miles and four years of unlimited roadside assistance in addition to a three-year/36,000-mile maintenance plan with parts subject to wear and vehicle downtime reimbursed.
The new Fiat 500 is a perfect combination of advanced technology and Italian style that can be personally configured by American customers on the website www.fiatusa.com
All the operations for adapting the model to the North American market
Expertly adapted for the roads of North America, the Fiat 500 boasts contemporary design, excellent finishes, ideal proportions for moving about town and timeless value. Specifically, some of the major adaptations for the USA are:
- body structure redesigned to increase resistance;
- suspensions made to measure and exclusive for the U.S.A. market to simultaneously maintain the Fiat 500's agility and ensure that its passenger compartment is comfortable and quiet during long journeys on the motorway;
- more than 20 specific modifications/additions to the body components to reduce noise, vibrations and harshness (NVH);
- new anti-lock braking system (ABS) on the four wheels with front calipers redesigned for optimum performance during braking;
- fuel tank increased to 10.5 gallons to increase range;
- heating and cooling system perfected for the extreme North American climates;
- seats for the driver and front passenger redesigned with a new armrest and new cushions to improve comfort over long distances;
- new front seats fitted with the "Easy Entry" system;
- new steering wheel controls and steering effort calibration optimised to increase stability at highway speeds (as to the side winds);
- new BOSE® Energy Efficient Series audio system with six speakers and subwoofer of excellent quality.
An innovative power unit with a view to sustainable mobility
Adapted to the needs of American customers, the Fiat 500 is fitted out with a new four cylinder in line 1.4-litre engine equipped with the innovative MultiAir technology developed and patented by FPT - Fiat Powertrain Technologies that assures excellent performance in terms of power, fuel consumption, quality and precision.
MultiAir technology increases fuel consumption and power efficiency by 10%, and at the same time guarantees 10% less CO2 emissions compared to similar engines that do not have this system. This technology won the "Best of What's New in 2010" prize awarded by Popular Science magazine. This honour acknowledges advanced products and technologies that represent a significant leap forward in their categories. The engine is perfectly calibrated to the Fiat 500's lighter weight and its city car size, supplying 101 HP (75 kW) of power at 6500 rpm and a torque of 133 Nm at 4000 rpm.
The 1.4 MultiAir can be combined with two sturdy, reliable and sophisticated transmissions for the North American market. They have been designed exclusively to offer greater efficiency and more enjoyable driving. In particular, a new six-speed automatic transmission is available for just the United States. It ensures fluid gear shifts and considerable savings in fuel costs. For a more exciting driving style, the Auto Stick function allows the gears to be shifted manually. When selecting the "Sport" mode by pressing its button on the instrument panel, the transmission gear shift programme and steering response are automatically regulated to achieve even sportier driving dynamics. The second gearbox - five-speed manual - is fitted with new transmission ratios for the American market, with better fuel consumption and increased acceleration. This transmission offers, as standard equipment, a new self-adjusting hydraulic clutch that makes it possible to always exert the same force on the pedal for the entire useful life of the clutch, thus guaranteeing virtually maintenance-free operation. When the "Sport" mode is selected with the manual gearbox, the pedal-accelerator ratio and steering response is calibrated and driving becomes more enjoyable.
Three exclusive trim levels for a successful model
The Fiat 500 is available in three versions in the United States: Pop, Sport and Lounge.
In detail, the Pop version designed for those seeking Italian style, efficiency and customisation offers: manual gearbox, 15" wheels, hub caps with chrome details and all-season tyres, seven standard air bags, air conditioning, AM/FM radio and CD/MP3 player with auxiliary audio input, electric windows, central locking, heated door mirrors, cruise control and reconfigurable EVIC (Electronic Vehicle Information Center) with trip computer, reserve and average fuel savings indication and tyre pressure monitoring (TPM).
For enthusiasts looking for Italian style with sporty suspensions and a richer package of accessories, the new Fiat 500 Sport offers modified springs, set-up of the shock absorbers, steering calibration and set-up of the exhausts to ensure greater driving stability and more reactive handling. The Sport model also includes a manual gearbox and in addition to the equipment of the Pop version, front and rear stripes stating a strong personality with oversized honeycomb grilles and accentuated aerodynamic features.
In addition to the 16-inch alloy wheels with pockets painted Mineral Gray and all season tyres, the Fiat 500 Sport incorporates bodyside sill cladding and a new liftgate-mounted roof spoiler for a sporty appearance. Completing this version's design are the brake calipers painted Performance Red attached to a sport-tuned suspension, chromed exhaust tip and fog lamps. Inside, the new 500 Sport features sport-styled seating combined with a grey/black interior environment, a BOSE® Energy Efficient Series audio system with six speakers and subwoofer, leather steering wheel with audio controls, Blue&Me hands-free communication technology with USB port and iPod functionality.
Tailored for individuals who want their Fiat 500 to reflect their fashion-oriented lifestyles, the Lounge version offers premium amenities (in addition to the Fiat 500 Pop features) including the all-new six-speed automatic transmission with driver-selectable gear changes, front- and rear-fascia chromed accents, chrome mirror caps, fog lamps, fixed glass roof, 15-inch alloy wheels with all-season tyres, premium cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, SIRIUS Satellite radio, BOSE® Energy Efficient Series audio system with six high-performance speakers and subwoofer, security alarm, Blue&Me hands-free communication technology with USB port and iPod functionality.