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First Look: Updated Fiat 500

No immediate plans for U.S. market update.

by on Jul.07, 2015

The 2016 Fiat 500 gets a number of exterior and interior updates - in Europe.

While we Americans have only had access to the little Fiat 500 since the 2012 model-year, it’s been around the block for awhile – getting only modest changes since its European introduction in 2007. Considering the speed with which vehicles are being refreshed these days, that might suggest the Cinquecento is already overdue.

And, indeed, for 2016 Fiat is bringing some changes to the little car, making a number of modest exterior updates, introducing revised powertrains, and giving the 2016 Fiat 500 a much more user-friendly infotainment system based on the Uconnect system developed by the Chrysler side of the family.

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Here’s the catch: for now, the changes to the Fiat 500 are for the European market only. There’s no word if or when we’ll see the Italian maker tweak the U.S. version.

“The 500 revealed in Turin is a model produced in Europe for Europe,” explains FCA spokesman Bryan Zvibleman. “The Fiat 500 for North America will continue to be produced in Toluca, Mexico keeping the specific features for the North American market.”

So, what are you missing out on?

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Fiat 500: Is America Ready to Embrace Micro?

Making the case to buy Cinquecento revolves around the cuteness factor.

by on Apr.25, 2012

Fiat has returned to the U.S. market with the 500, a tiny, four-seat two-door hatchback.

There’s two ways to tell the story of the Fiat 500.

Story no. 1:

It seemed like a relatively simple trip. Two people, two duffel bags, one box of Easter flowers, a computer bag, one dog. But crammed inside the Fiat 500, no one was happy about the space allotted to them, the dog especially. Geez, there weren’t even kids tagging along for this trip.

Or, story no. 2

From Small to Big!

There’s this woman I know who loves tiny cars. She sees this little Fiat 500 and declares “This is a Rhonda car. Can I drive it?”

Look, there’s no denying the 500 is as cute as a teacup Italian greyhound. For many, that’s the appeal. And when it’s time to pack for a weekend up north? Well, pack light and bring gift cards to the local greenhouse.

Fiat has been gone from the U.S. market for 29 years. But when the company took control of Chrysler, it saw an opportunity to make its often-delayed return to the U.S. market. The car it decided to bring here first is the tiny 500, or Cinquecento in Italian.

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First Look: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Performance model aiming to pump some life into Italian brand.

by on Oct.31, 2011

Fiat is betting the Abarth edition will pump a little more lift into the slow-selling 500.

Despite some ambitious sales goals the little Fiat 500 hasn’t exactly set the U.S. market on fire.  So the Italian partner of Detroit’s Chrysler LLC will be turning up the energy level with the upcoming launch of the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.

Due to make its debut next month at the L.A. Auto Show, the sportiest version yet of the Cinquecento will feature an all-new 1.4-liter Multi-Air engine bumping the horsepower count to 130 – with an optional performance pack that can deliver yet another 30 ponies.

Whether Americans will recognize the Abarth name remains to be seen, of course, but those who do will know that it has a history of living up to the “small but wicked” tagline used for its cars over the years.

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Born in 1908, Karl Abarth was originally known as an aggressive motorcycle racer before a near-fatal accident ended his career on the track – shifting his focus to the production of exhaust systems and other performance parts.  In the ‘40s and ‘50s, “Abarth and C” had a successful career campaigning a variety of Fiat products, including a heavily modified version of the original Fiat 500 microcar.

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Fiat Expanding Line-up, Alfa Likely to Debut With 4C, Says U.S. Chief

Plans for Italian brands falling into shape, according to Soaves.

by on May.17, 2011

Alfa will turn to the 4C to ensure no one can miss its return to the U.S. market.

With initial demand for the little 500 exceeding expectations, Fiat is laying out plans for an expanded line-up that will bring additional models to the U.S., according to the brand’s top American executive.

Meanwhile, sibling Alfa Romeo appears ready to use a production version of the wildly popular 4C concept car to help re-launch that brand here in the U.S.

Despite a two-month delay in getting the Fiat 500 to market, this past March, sales are running ahead of expectations, according to brand boss Laura Soaves.  Demand for the manual transmission version are stretching availability of the gearbox from suppliers, she said during a dinner conversation on Monday.

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Now begins the brand’s expansion, the 500C convertible facing its big test as journalists flood into New York for a first test drive.  That will be followed by the high-performance Abarth edition and, then, a battery-powered version of the little 500.

Soaves has long suggested that what Europeans know as the Cinquecento won’t be the end-all-be-all for the U.S. version of the Fiat brand and she confirmed that another, larger model is now set to follow.  In fact, it appears several products could give Fiat a much fuller showroom over the next several years.

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Closer Look: Fiat 500C

Going “topless” will carry $4,000 premium.

by on Apr.22, 2011

Fiat's Laura Soave with the new 500C.

“Just in time for spring,” the Fiat 500C convertible rolled into New York, giving auto showgoers a chance to look at the new, Italian cabriolet.

The ragtop version of the Fiat 500 minicar will carry a $4,000 premium over the base Cinquecento coupe, announced Fiat’s U.S. chief executive, Laura Soave.

Declaring the convertible’s arrival “perfectly timed” for the annual surge of ragtop sales, Soave gave a New York Auto Show crowd a first look at the unusual design’s distinctive features.

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Unlike a more traditional convertible, the 500C maintains the basic frame of the standard coupe, with additional reinforced crossmembers to maintain the car’s rigidity and improve crash protection.

With most soft-top convertibles their tops are designed to tuck into the trunk or a special hatch, the 500C’s roof simply slides back.  That means the minicar loses none of its precious cargo or passenger space.  Meanwhile, a pull of the trunk’s latch automatically moves the folded top out of the way for easy access to the cargo compartment.

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Big Apple Preview Set for Fiat 500 Convertible

Launching by spring - whenever that comes.

by on Mar.23, 2011

The Fiat 500 Convertible is expected to make its formal debut at the NY Auto Show.

There’s some big news coming from the Big Apple.  With less than a month to go until the annual New York International Auto Show a number of makers are beginning to drop hints of what they’ll be bringing to the Jacob Javits convention center.

Among those planning to shine in the spotlight is Fiat, which will stage the formal unveiling of its new 500 minicar.

The Italian automaker recently staged its long-awaited return to the U.S. market – after an absence of two decades – with the 500 coupe heralding its return.

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Fiat officials have said they plan to roll out a procession of variants to keep demand building for the little car, and the 500C will join the line-up before mid-year – which given the weather in much of the country may just barely see the start of spring.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia: Fiat Meets Gucci

Two of Italy’s best combine in a new logomobile.

by on Feb.28, 2011

Two Italian legends team up in the Gucci Fiat 500.

Fashionistas, devotees and logo lovers of style, elegance and panache can now rejoice: the most famous fashion logo in the world, Gucci’s double G, is now an official part of Italian automotive heritage, history and haute couture.

Ciao e benvenuto to the ‘500 by Gucci’! Bellisimo.

The international fashion press went ga-ga last week during the Milan Fashion Week when  Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini introduced the new Gucci edition 500 during the packed Gucci fashion show in Milan. She stated, “In the 50s, the Fiat 500 created a style revolution when it first hit the road. It quickly became the must-have car of its time. Travelling in style has also been at the heart of Gucci ever since Guccio Gucci founded his company as a producer of leather trunks, suitcases and handbags in 1921.”  (Click Here for a video clip of an interview with Frida Giannini.)

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In fact the introduction of the 500 by Gucci is more than the usual auto brand and designer licensing deal (remember the Bill Blass Lincoln?) paying a six or seven percent royalty. It is a celebration of Italy’s 150th anniversary as a nation and the founding of Gucci 90 years ago. Gucci and Fiat, arguably are the two best known Italian brand names in the world.

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