The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo may not be a big “head turner” but it certainly is a “smiler.” Every time we’ve driven the little Italian car we’ve seen people smile at us, and part of that could be because we were smiling, too.
Fiat builds on this natural good humor with commercials that promote the same reaction. For example, we love the Fiat 500 commercials, especially the one that show the colorful little cars driving and jumping into the Mediterranean Sea and then driving onto the U.S. beaches. It such a great graphic visualization of where the Fiat 500 comes from.
Smiles aside, the 2013 Fiat 500 makes sense on several levels – it’s inexpensive to buy, gets good fuel economy, is surprisingly comfortable and it is just plain fun to be in, except in the back seat. And we expect the back seat would present its own kind of fun.
To put the 2013 Fiat 500 in perspective, it is 140 inches long and weighs about 2,400 pounds, putting it about 100-pounds lighter and six-inches shorter than a Mini Cooper. Compared side-by-side, the original 1980s Fiat 500 and the 2013 Fiat 500 looks like a body builder on steroids next to a 97-pound weakling. The bulk and muscular toning looks good on the still dinky 500, with the wheels pushed to the far corners and its racy raked look.
The simplistic interior has some cool touches like the surfboard shaped dash panel in the same color as the exterior paint. The center stack, which contains the climate and audio controls, can also be ordered in an ivory or black color.
The retro inspired interior has plenty of headroom and legroom for average size passengers but the cabin’s width is a little limiting for an Italian, like Barbara, who tends to talk with her hands. The front seats fold and slide forward for easier access to the rear, but there is very little room for passengers, so that space is more for an occasional smaller passenger or bambino.
Even though the 500 is an entry-level car, there are certain available features that give it a premium touch, for example, heated leather seats, a built-in Tom Tom® navigation system with Blue&Me™ Hands free Communications and the premium Beats™ audio system.
The 2013 Fiat 500 lineup now includes four models: Pop, Sport, Lounge and a new top model, the Turbo. Of course, we can’t forget the Abarth, but that’s another story, literally. See Bill’s Abarth review at http://ourautoexpert.com/test-drive-fiat-500-abarth/.
The Pop, Sport and Lounge models are powered by a 101-hp, 1.4-liter four-cylinder Fiat engine with MultiAir® technology – a fully variable valve activation system. Even with such a small efficient engine, the 500 offers a spirited drive. The five-speed manual is certainly more fun to drive, but the six-speed automatic gets the job done. Although it feels a little quicker, the base engine takes 9.7 seconds to accelerate from a stop to 60 mph. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway for the manual transmission and 27/34 for the automatic.
We recently spent some time in the new Turbo model and reaffirmed our love of turbocharged engines. It’s not that the extra 34 horsepower of the Turbo model makes the 2013 Fiat 500 a racer, it just makes it more drivable and even more fun. The Turbo power and performance falls about midway between the base engine and the awesome Abarth.
We haven’t found any official 0 to 60 times for the 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo, but based on the feel and the numbers, a 0 to 60 mph run should take just over eight seconds. The EPA lists fuel economy at 28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined. We actually averaged 29.5 during our not so conservative driving time.
The pricing of the 2013 Fiat 500 models ranges from $16,700, including the destination charge, for the Pop up to $20,200 for the Turbo. In addition to the engine upgrade, the Turbo gets some suspension, exhaust and brake upgrades along with other cosmetic and convenience enhancements. The Turbo with all the available options (leather, Beats™ audio, comfort group, navigation and sunroof) takes the price to a maximum of $24,300.
The Pop and Lounge models are also available in a convertible version. The 500c Pop and 500c Lounge are priced at $20,200 and $23,3200 respectively. There’s also an electric version, the 500e, arriving at Fiat dealers in California in the second quarter 2013.
The Turbo is only for shifty drivers, however, no automatic transmission is available, only the five-speed manual. It’s a good positive shifter with short throw and it’s a hoot to drive.
RV owners will be happy to hear that the Fiat 500, with a manual transmission, can be towed behind a motor home with four wheels on the ground, however, the automatic version would need to use a tow dolly.
The Fiat 500 is a fun car and would be perfect for a commuter or someone living in a city. The small size would be easier to park and it’s very agile moving through traffic.