By on November 16, 2011

Fiat’s 500 may be flopping early in the game, but then, what do you expect from a car with barely 100 horsepower? Though I’m sure the Cinquecento is better with a stick shift, my brief time in an autobox version left me feeling that Fiat’s italophile morsel could use considerably more brio. Well, consider the problem solved, as the 160 HP Abarth version has finally been shown in US-market spec, and sales should start sometime early next year. And based on European reactions to the Abarth, it should be a little firecracker. So, enthusiasm solved… now Fiat just needs to do something about its high prices, uninspiring fuel economy and wretched marketing. Then everything will be just fine… although I still wouldn’t hold my breath for 50k units per year.

 

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53 Comments on “Can The Scorpion’s Sting Save Fiat’s Flopping 500?...”


  • avatar
    aspade

    Nothing wrong with this degrading little poverty box that a 500c with a Hemi wouldn’t fix.

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      “degrading little poverty box”?….buddy, your clue-less-ness is showing. And your Hemi comment says you’ve bitten Chrysler’s marketing tripe hook, line, and sinker…..

    • 0 avatar

      My Alfa has a hemi. true story.

      • 0 avatar
        pgcooldad

        When those “Yeah, it’s got a Hemi” bumper stickers came out, I promptly slapped one on my ’88 Alfa Spyder. As any Alfisti should know, that’s no lie.

        I would love to get my hands on one of these but helping two kids through college right now and I’ll be waiting a few more years.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      How, exactly, is it degrading? I drove one for several days a few weeks back and never felt degraded for the experience…far from it. Look, if somebody chooses to drive one (for whatever reasons they have to do so…like the style, like how it feels over the road, who knows) and they are genuinely happy with their choice, how does that degrade them? Poverty box? Guess we are all entitled to our opinions…but again, I certainly didn’t feel like I was driving an econ-box car. But again, to each his own opinion. I’m just thankful that cars like this exist to give us options beyond the norm.

    • 0 avatar

      Degrading little poverty box???! The mere fact that you think performance would fix the problem shows that you really don’t think it’s a degrading little poverty box, unless you think cars are about performance to the exclusion of everything else.

      In terms of aesthetics, this car is in the top 10%, and probably the top 5%. There are very few good looking cars out there, but this is definitely one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      A quote from Aliens: “It won’t make any difference”

    • 0 avatar

      Less is more… (c.f. http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Abarth-Fiat_500_1973.JPG&imgrefurl=http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abarth-Fiat_500_1973.JPG&usg=__jimf4vRf5SUbc4lO0RMps-jA6GQ=&h=960&w=1280&sz=335&hl=de&start=40&zoom=1&tbnid=_snPWIMjMEuD-M:&tbnh=153&tbnw=195&ei=ZyHETsiYEK-K4gTip52aDQ&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dfiat%2Babarth%2B500%26start%3D20%26num%3D10%26hl%3Dde%26biw%3D1228%26bih%3D881%26output%3Dimages_json%26tbm%3Disch&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=429&sig=104456772695704682826&sqi=2&page=3&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:9,s:40&tx=149&ty=68)

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Don’t feed the troll.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I looked through the press release, which if it was printed out it wouldn’t fit in the trunk of the car, and couldn’t find a price. So that tells me it’s gonna be more expensive and they’re hoping they can generate buzz and buyers will beat paths to their dealerships’ doors.

    Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    mjz

    With a Mini Cooper S starting at $23,800, Fiat needs to price this baby to start in the $20-21,000 range.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I would say the Abarth sounded interesting if I wasn’t sooo sure they were going to ask, like, 23k+ for it.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Agree about the wretched marketing. Are they going to put Jel-Lo on the hood instead of in the seat to sell it?

    Everytime I see THE commercial for the model on sale I get confused. Is Jel-Lo selling herself or the car, and how does the 500 inspire you to be tougher?

  • avatar
    Bowler300

    I’m very happy with the mileage I’m getting on my automatic – 37 mpg in mixed driving.
    Comments like “degrading little poverty box” just prove that the poster has no clue what a premium small car is meant to be. Sit down in the soft heated leather seat and crank up BB Kings Bluesville on the Sirius satellite Bose stereo system and tell me what is “degrading” about it. I think having to drive around looking for a parking spot because your “Luxobarge” needs two zip codes to park in is degrading. At least it’s amusing to me.

  • avatar
    JimR

    I live in a reasonably affluent area of 250,000 souls, but the nearest 500 test drive is a two-hour drive away at a painfully chosen Fiat “Studio.”

    No.

    Most of ignored flyover America is fairly close to a dealer of Fiestas, Velosters, Mazda2/3s, or Sonics. A 2×3′ vinyl banner with the Fiat logo and a stack of brochures is all any of the countless Chrysler dealers stateside should need to vend Fiats. No matter what the badge says, small and cheap isn’t a foreign concept to even the most grizzled backwashes of America.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    I’m not in the target market for this car but I saw an Abarth up at Chrylser’s HQ yesterday and I will say the large badge looks VERY cool on the hatch lid… whether that will sell the car is another story.

    Sounds like the few Fiat dealers who aren’t in a mall will have to make room in their over-stocked lots to park these!

  • avatar

    the car isn’t ever going to sell here. looks like the back half is missing.

  • avatar

    Where would one go to even look at a 500? The local Chrysler dealer has none, or at least they can’t be seen behind all the Ram trucks…

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I pass one of the rare Fiat dealerships on my way to work every day (western PA); they have 36 500s in stock in a rainbow of colors. It’s in a standalone building in a high traffic zone, run by a dealer with a very good reputation.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The 500′s problem isn’t the 100 HP – it’s the tiny size and the Fiat reputation, however undeserved it may be after 30 years.

    The Scion xB1 only had 103-108 HP, and it did just fine for its time.

    Pushing the Abarth versions will appeal to enthusiasts, but it won’t save the sales projections. See Omni GLH story: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1986-dodge-omni-glh/

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Its the small size and mediocre mpg, it should get at least 40.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        In actuality, it does in the real world, it gets just over 40mpg easily.

        Just ask any Fiat owner of this car and most will say at least 40, with hypermiling techniques they can get as much as 45 highway, that with the manual BTW.

        The manual city mileage is OVER 30mpg. Doubt there’s another car that can do that right now without being a hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      its the 100hp…
      and the reputation…
      and the size…
      and the mileage…
      just about all the car has going for it is the styling (my fiance nearly purchased one on sight) and the fact that it can be fun on a downhill back road. Then again, so is my little red wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Then how would you explain the lively sales of the Nissan Versa – a bland, 109-HP people mover with an EPA of 30/38 with CVT?

        Here’s how – interior volume, Nissan reputation, good price.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Then how would you explain the lively sales of the Nissan Versa?
        Don’t forget:
        People know where Nissan dealerships are.
        They aren’t turned off by the styling.

      • 0 avatar
        edmonds59

        OMG, I’m turned off by the styling of the Nissan Versa, gah. The average american car buyer has the design sensibility of a Saltine cracker.

  • avatar

    I see several every day here in Austin. I think if FIAT accepted this is a city car best marketed to urban buyers, they’d have a lot more success than trying to beat Mini across the board.

  • avatar
    jaje

    The F500 costs less than the Mini but its wheels base is much shorter and narrower than a Mini. The F500 is also about 4 inches taller making it less sporty and more utilitarian (you sit up higher in it). It is a good city point a to b car but not very good on the highway.

    The Abarth will have to be much shorter but you will still have a narrow and short wheelbase and an MCS will still be much more stable platform for high speed driving.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Is the 160 HP actually now official? I’ve got the FIAT USA website up and they haven’t done the official reveal yet (won’t be for another hour). If they can bring it with 160 HP (hoping for a tad more) and keep the starting price at (or under) $22k, then it has a fighting chance. JLo be damned…I still want to test drive the little scamp. I’ve driven several run of the mill 500s, and really like them. For the type of driving I do, it suits my needs and makes me smile when I step out of it. Let’s hope it brings more buzz (and thus, sales) to the 500…

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      I have a real sinking feeling that its going to cost more than a stripper GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        No idea…the reveal was a huge disappointment. Was waiting for quite some time for this, looking forward to the Abarth. But the streams didn’t work well, their was no price information given, and the HP was quoted at 160HP. To be sure, better than 101 HP, but they could have twisted more (and do in Europe) out of the engine. I still want to test drive one in March when it comes out, but this isn’t the best way to gain loyal customers. Having said that, the new Abarth commercial is pretty smokin! I hope the real deal is better than the reveal today…

      • 0 avatar
        solracer

        Judging by the prices in the UK the Abarth should come in at around $21,500 according to the folks at fiat500abarth,us if the difference in price between the UK versions is maintained over here. Personally I think the difference will be a little less so my guess is $20,500 which would be a steal in my opinion.

        http://www.fiat500abarth.us/featured/the-price-of-a-fiat-500-abarth/

  • avatar
    MarkP

    What they should do is bump the price of the current line down and put the Abarth at the price of the former top-of-the-line.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Let’s hope so. Me? I’ll take the black one.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    They’ll sell a few extra units, but not many more. Whereas Ford is profiting by getting more efficient with “one Ford” marketing, Fiat seems to be going in the other direction with lots of regional niche brands. Seems counter to the globalized brave new world.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    But will it outrun (a runing example of) the GLH we saw earlier?

  • avatar

    This vintaqe Abarth Fiat was wrapped and set up by a BP dealer during the Woodward Dream Cruise.

    http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=5472

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    With all that additional plumbing, it looks like the cost of a front-end collision just went way up!,

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I plan on buying one in the Spring. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

    If 160HP doesn’t put the wind beneath your skirts, wait for the Esse Esse (SS) version.

  • avatar
    solracer

    The 500 sure seems to be selling well in Seattle judging from how many I’ve seen recently. But then we have two dealers in the area already with a third to open pretty soon and we have a population with a penchant for efficient and odd cars (Seattle used to be one of the top markets for Peugeot back in the ’80s). I’d give them more time before we declare them a failure, the 500 is selling as well as the Kia Rio and not that much less than the Honda Fit (with a much smaller dealer network I’ll point out) and no one calls either of them failures.

  • avatar
    janet70

    After viewing the preview of a sexy Abarth commercial, I can tell you with certainty that FIAT has ramped up its marketing strategy, and that the little Abarth will generate some serious excitement!
    To really appreciate a 500, one really needs the standard shift car and don’t be timid about revving the engine. My Prima Edizione loves to be pushed, and that’s how to wring the performance out of the 101 horsepower engine. Forget that I am averaging 37.2 MPGs in city driving right now. Adding so much more power to the wee curve-hugger in the Abarth package will surely impress any skeptic who test-drives it.


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