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Is the American Market Ready for City Cars?

Testing the appeal of the Fiat 500.

by on Oct.25, 2011

The new Fiat 500 is testing the U.S. market for so-called A-sized microcars.

The Fiat 500, returning to the American market after a long absence, and under the guardianship of Chrysler LLC, is cute, fun to drive and well-executed.

But are American motorists ready yet for an “A-sized” vehicle?

That’s the big question for Fiat, Chrysler, the know-it-alls Inside the Beltway—and ultimately all the competitors in the U.S. market.  Usually known as a City Car or by some, Urban Car, these tiny vehicles are defined by their short wheelbases—73.5 to 90.6 inches– and overall lengths between 106.1 and 139.6 inches.

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At the moment the Fiat 500 is the largest of the City Car competitors in the U.S. market, the smallest being the Daimler Benz Smartfortwo and the just announced Toyota Scion iQ, in between in size. Still more are on the way, with Chevrolet getting ready to launch its new Spark, the smallest car it has ever offered.