The 2013 Fiat 500 may be able to charm its way into your heart with its good looks, but you might find yourself pretty disappointed with performance. There are three variations of one engine to choose from, and although fuel economy may look good on paper, when compared to similar products it falls short. The base engine is a 1.4-liter four-cylinder paired to a five-speed manual to deliver 101 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque. It takes a slow 10.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is more than 1.5 seconds behind Mini. If that is not bad enough, when you add on the six-speed automatic, that number drops to an embarrassing 12.4 seconds. However, this engine does have the best fuel economy at 31 mpg in the city and 40 mph on the highway. Turbo models offer 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, improving acceleration time to 8.1 seconds. Fuel economy yields 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Interestingly, the Abarth model manages to sprint to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, thanks to 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, yet fuel economy remains unchanged. Regardless which engine you choose, 500 is fun to drive. Steering is precise, the car is nimble, and it holds its composure at highway speeds.
• Audio - 500 gets rave reviews for its sound system. Base models get an impressive six-speaker system with iPod integration, CD, and auxiliary audio input. Sport gets an Alpine® system while Lounge adds satellite radio. There is also a Beats Premium Audio package with a trunk subwoofer and upgraded speakers.
• Navigation - Get to where you need to go with turn-by-turn directions provided by the available TomTom® navigation system.
• Bluetooth - Send, end, and receive calls without taking your eyes off the road with Bluetooth.
• Satellite - Available satellite radio gives you commercial-free music, news, sports, and talk radio.
There are absolutely no complaints in the safety department. The 2013 Fiat 500 received top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in roof, front, and side-impact protection. Braking is quite impressive too. Sport models stop from 60 mph in only 115 feet. The Abarth was at 123 feet, which is still respectable. A few safety features to appreciate include:
• Post-collision safety system
• Antilock brakes
• Traction control
• Emergency braking assist
• Front seatbelt pretensioners
• Daytime running lights
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Child seat anchors
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Engine immobilizer
• Stability control
The main attraction to the 500 is its charismatic exterior styling. This two-door subcompact comes as a hatchback and convertible. The hatchback can be equipped with a sunroof. Its cartoonish good looks are relatively simple yet different trims bring unique details, such as the showy 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels on Turbo models. The rear roof spoiler on some models offers a polished look from the back. 500 is available in 15 bold shades, such as Giallo, Rame, and Verde Azzurro.
This is one of the smallest cars on the market so do not expect a ton of space, especially in the backseat. Adult passengers will struggle to squeeze back there. In the front, there is a generous amount of legroom, but the low roof will prove troublesome for tall drivers, especially when equipped with a sunroof. If you opt for a convertible you should know that the top really does not compromise space, but when fully retracted, rear visibility is quite poor. However, if you can deal with the lack of space, you will love the retro styling. The control layout tis functional, but there are cute design cues throughout that you cannot help but smile over. The optional two-tone color scheme gets an honorable mention.
The hatchback offers 9.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which most will find surprising. The backseat does not fold as flat as you may want, but it does open up 30.2 cubes.