By on November 14, 2011

I was not the only person to predict that the Fit 500 would enjoy strong initial sales and then flop as the novelty wore off… and I was half right! Sales climbed early, peaking at around 3k units per month this summer before dropping precipitously in September and October. In August were still wondering if the 500 could become a classic, but as of November 1, Fiat 500 inventory stood at a staggering 184 days. Now, Automotive News [sub] quotes UAW officials as saying that

Chrysler Group has suspended production this month of the 1.4-liter FIRE engine that powers the Fiat 500 in North America because of slow U.S. sales of the subcompact

One in four workers at the Dundee plant where that engine is made has been laid off according to the report, which is a pity considering Fiat got five percent of Chrysler in return for those US jobs. And keep in mind, this is happening at a time when anecdotal reports of Fiat 500s in rental fleets are beginning to become more common… the 500′s retail sales number is likely quite a bit lower than the gross volume numbers cited here. Nor do we know what kind of incentives are being used to push the 500 out the door. But despite all this, and the fact that the 500 will not sell the hoped-for 50,000 units in North America, Chrysler is keeping a brave (or is that delusional?) face on the situation, telling AN that it is

very pleased with the progress we are making with the North American launch of the Fiat brand.

Really? Really? Wait, hold up a moment, I predicted that too! Way back in November of 2009, I wrote

Fiat wants to use the 500 to consolidate its strong presence in Latin America, where small, 100 hp vehicles are more accepted. The majority of 500 production at Toluca, Mexico will go to Brazil and other Latin American countries, as a halo for the Fiat brand’s success there.

Meanwhile, in the US market, the 500 will be little more than an overpriced fashion accessory… Nobody, from Sergio Marchionne on down, cares if this car succeeds in the US except for the fashionista fanatics who will pay nearly any price for one.

It just turns out that there are fewer of those people left than anyone thought…

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142 Comments on “Fiat 500: Yup, It’s Flopping...”


  • avatar

    Living just west of the middle of nowhere, in a land that is ruled by giant-sized, Diesel-powered pickup trucks, I have never seen a Fiat 500 – until yesterday. I’m in Seattle on business and the damn things seem to be everywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen only a couple running around in my home city of Louisville the entire time: One red, one grey, maybe one white. Either my city lacks fashionistas or the fashionistas prefer MINIs.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        My fashionista wife prefers her MINI. She does think the 500 is cute, though.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        The car is a toy. It is a babble. It is an impulse buy. It will sell when it’s price reflects it’s auto ridiculousness.

        And although I don’t live in Louisville and have experienced Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and every US city, Louisville doesn’t lack Fashionistas. It is a wonderful river city with a way cool hotel – 21C.

        Louisville is cool for folks who know cool. I suspect you are one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Louisville? Probably a bit of both.

        These cars are for dense cities, outside of S.F. and NYC I doubt there is much market.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think that the lack of city density is what suppresses the 500. Once again, the comparison with MINI is most instructive. BTW, I would’ve bought a MINI last year if not for the HUEG center speedo. And I like Scion’s center speedo. What’s up with that!

      • 0 avatar
        nozferatu

        @ VANILLADUDE?

        Why is it ridiculous? Cause it can’t haul fat-ass Americans around?

      • 0 avatar

        Depends on where you are. Here on the right coast, we have Minis all over…it’s the car of choice if you don’t buy a Prius or a Fit. There are even a very few Smart Cars around. Most of these folks could buy bigger, but they go for the cachet. The Fiat has not hit…it’s smaller than the Mini, and does not have the BMW backup that a Mini has…every owner “knows” it is full of BMW parts. Fiat, not quite the same reputation.

        Go past the “money line” of the NY Metro area, not far from my locations, and you are back in CamCord Land with a sprinkling of American cars…..no mini, no Fiat, no Fit, but a lot of really boring people movers bought to a budget.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      My wife and I saw our first Fiat 500 the other day. Her comment: “OH… THAT CAR!!! I JUST LOVE THE COLOR!!! IT IS SO CUTE!!! WHAT IS IT?!!!”… this tells me it is not just fashionists who are attracted to this car… but rather, the 50% of the population that is female see it as a good choice.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I saw a red Fiat 500 with a New York license plate on it in El Paso, TX, on I-10 in the fast lane a couple of weeks back. I looked down on it from my Tundra as we went by it in the slower lane adjacent to it.

      It looked out of place. A city-scape would have been a more fitting scene. Everything around the 500 just towered over it. I don’t think they’ll sell all that well in the wide-open spaces.

      But I do think it is an excellent car for a metropolis and inner-city transportation. My guess is that the current economic conditions have put a crimp in the sales of the 500 because few people can afford to buy a fashion accessory.

      Where the Mini is on the high end of the scale in toys, the 500 clearly is at the low end of the scale in spite of its cuteness. If the economy turns around so may the sales of the 500. But that could take years.

    • 0 avatar
      solracer

      +1 on that, they seem to be selling very well in the Seattle area. Of course we have three dealers covering most of the metro area well so perhaps that’s it. I stopped by the Tacoma dealer and was very impressed with the facility and staff and was happy I didn’t get the normal “What would it take to get you in a car today?” BS. Once the Abarth is out I’ll definitely be checking it out if it’s half what they say it is.

    • 0 avatar
      sanmusa

      Funny thing is, even in Brazil, where Fiat sells tons of small cars with tiny engines, the 500 is not selling well because it’s just too damn expensive on that segment. In Brazil the 500 is considered a small car for rich people.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      The 500 and the SMART compromised footprint makes the most sense when they are bought to be used in large urban cities and crowded suburbs where it has the advantage of ease of mobility and parking. OTOH the Mini is simply a right sized small car which gives decent space inside with minimal exterior size; yet is large enough that it is not nervous driving at speeds over 60 mph and you can comfortably drive long distances.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        I’m under the impression that the 500 has more interior room than the MINI, in spite of being slightly shorter. So why is the MINI “right sized” while the 500 isn’t?

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        That got me thinking as I checked the interior volume and you are right the Fiat has more interior volume. But when I sat in both of them back to back at the auto show the Mini felt right and more spacious. So why did the Mini feel comfortable and not the Fiat. Well it turns out that Mini is longer but more importantly wider and lower, OTOH the Fiat was much taller but didn’t really fell like it as you sit higher up rather than down in the seat like the Mini. I’ve driven a Mini but not yet a Fiat and looking at the Mini having almost 10″ more length and 2″ width wheel base plus with the 4″ lower ride height the Mini should be a lot more composed on the highway and in cornering. I copied the dimensions / specs below from Edmunds just to give some basis.

        2012 Mini Cooper Hardtop – base price $19.5k.
        Measurements
        Width: 66.3 in.
        Height: 55.4 in.
        Length: 146.6 in.
        Front track: 57.4 in.
        Rear track: 57.8 in.
        Wheel base: 97.1 in.
        Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 5.7 cu.ft.
        Maximum cargo capacity: 24.0 cu.ft.
        EPA interior volume: 82.0 cu.ft.
        Drag Coefficient: 0.33 Cd
        Curb weight: 2535 lbs.
        Front Seats
        Front head room: 38.8 in.
        Front leg room: 41.4 in.
        Front shoulder room: 50.3 in.
        Height adjustable driver seat
        Height adjustable passenger seat
        Leatherette
        Bucket front seats
        Rear Seats
        Rear head room: 37.6 in.
        Rear leg room: 29.9 in.
        Rear shoulder room: 44.7 in.
        Split-folding rear seatback

        2012 Fiat 500 – base price $15.5k
        Measurements
        Width: 64.1 in.
        Height: 59.8 in.
        Length: 139.6 in.
        Ground clearance: 4.1 in.
        Front track: 55.4 in.
        Rear track: 55.0 in.
        Wheel base: 90.6 in.
        Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 9.5 cu.ft.
        Maximum cargo capacity: 30.1 cu.ft.
        EPA interior volume: 85.1 cu.ft.
        Gross weight: 3300 lbs.
        Drag Coefficient: 0.35 Cd
        Curb weight: 2363 lbs.
        Front Seats
        Front head room: 38.9 in.
        Front hip room: 47.9 in.
        Front leg room: 40.7 in.
        Front shoulder room: 49.4 in.
        Height adjustable driver seat
        Cloth
        Bucket front seats
        Rear Seats
        Rear hip Room: 42.6 in.
        Rear head room: 35.6 in.
        Rear leg room: 31.7 in.
        Rear shoulder room: 46.4 in.
        Split-folding rear seatback

      • 0 avatar
        Bowler300

        I traded in my smart for a 500 and I have cows for neighbors. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      swc7916

      The only Fiat dealer in the Seattle area – Fiat of Kirkland – is within 2 miles of our house, so we see them all the time. We used to see Smartcars around here for the same reason, but the importer isn’t in Kirkland anymore.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Sales of all manner of fuel efficient vehicles have been sliding for months. September sales of hybrids were down around 15% from the same period last year. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has dropped by about half.

    Most car buyers in the US have gotten used to higher fuel prices and are out of panic buying mode. Also, conventional technology, normal sized vehicles are showing fuel economy improvements as the industry has turned back to improving fuel economy instead of endlessly increasing horsepower.

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/10/hybrids-dont-share-september-sales-spurt.html

    • 0 avatar
      krohde

      Great points here. Personally, people get too worked up over gas prices without really doing the math. This is probably because it’s one of the few things we buy where we truly pay attention to the cost, all the time, because it’s right there on the big sign as we enter the gas station.

      For example, I drive a 2011 Mustang GT that I average 22 MPG in. If I drive the national average of around 15,000 miles per year and pay an average of $3.50 per gallon, I’ll pay $2,386 for gas. If I got rid of the Mustang and got a Fiesta and averaged, say, 30 MPG overall, my annual gas bill would be $1,750. So I give up the performance, style and everything I love about the Mustang to save $600 a year. That might be a big deal to some people, but that compromise isn’t worth it to me. Now, if I went and got a VW BlueTec diesel or something, I’d cut that gas bill in half but I’m still not sure that’d be worth it to me.

      This isn’t even about the 500, so I’ll bring it back to that car and say I’m not surprised at all – the Mini was a perfect fit to be sold by BMW dealers who know how to sell small cars with big price tags (3-series!) and take care of people after the sale. Plus, Mini was a better known, much more loved brand than Fiat historically, which helped I think. Those factors are two of the reasons the terrible reliability ratings for Mini don’t seem to have affected sales.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        One thing you have to remember is that even “terrible” reliablity these days will not leave you stranded. It’s all relative.

      • 0 avatar
        krohde

        Absolutely true fvfsix – way too many of those reports don’t do enough to separate things people don’t like about their car from things that truly make it unreliable (meaning it’s going to strand you somewhere or cost you tons in repair dollars).

      • 0 avatar

        You’re absolutely right about the importance ofa cost/benefit analysis. Then future Nobel laureate (economics, 2005) Tom Schelling bought a Pinto after the first Arab oil embargo in ’73. My father had him do a cost benefit and he realized he’d wasted his money.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I believe you’re correct in doing a good cost-benefit analysis of purchasing a new car for mileage sake. I did the same in 2008 when trading in a paid for ’98 F-250 for a ’08 Astra XR. Crunched the numbers; Astra cost: $18K, F-250 trade-in $10.5, Financed the difference at 3.9% for 5 yrs, average gas use for F-250 over a year of driving (for me 18K miles is pretty average) at 13 mpg at $3 gal ($4150 yr) vs. 32 mpg for Astra ($1680 yr) worked out to paying for itself within two years. However, and this is a point I forgot, its not just the gas mileage that’s cheaper. The tires are smaller, therefore more affordable. Maintenance costs such as tune-ups on a little car are generally much cheaper than a large pickup. Insurance (with full coverage) was far more expensive on the F-250. Simply washing the truck was more expensive than the Astra. The list of extras goes on and on.

        There’s a lot more than just gas mileage to cost-benefit anaylsis. I think your friend with the Pinto did well if he drove a large barge before hand.

      • 0 avatar
        krohde

        You’re right – good insight Dolorean. For me, with the Mustang, I bought a 2nd set of wheels with snow tires for $1,700 and I’m driving this car far more than I probably would be driving a more traditional or everyday car, so my gas and maintenance bills are higher. Oil changes cost me more because it takes 8 quarts of oil. Replacing worn out tires will cost me more because I’ll be buying 18″ performance tires. And I’ll probably end up buying things like an exhaust system and other accessories I wouldn’t have with something else.

        Come to think of this, I need to stop thinking about all this before it makes me trade in the Mustang :)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “One thing you have to remember is that even “terrible” reliablity these days will not leave you stranded. It’s all relative.”

        That would be news for buyers of Jaguars with the retractable knob shifters.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    But how can this car save fiatsler if it doesn’t sell a million units? HA HA HA HA HA HA

  • avatar

    I can count the number I’ve seen on the road here in MA on my fingers. I may not even need the second hand. I figured it’d flop, but I thought it’d get *some* traction first, particularly in metro Boston where Minis are a dime a dozen and even Smarts have a following.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in Lexington, and do a lot of driving in Arlington and Cambridge, and I see 500s probably half as often as Smarts–which is pretty good considering Smarts have been out a couple of years, and 500s more like a couple of–well, maybe six months. I do feel like the numbers of 500s as increasing, and I hope they do well, because they certainly beautify the roads relative to the average appliance.

  • avatar
    damikco

    Not practical not very attractive what do you expect?

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    What this car needs is a flower vase. Or horsepower. Or lower price. Any one of these and they’d be back at 3000/mo.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    I pegged the Fiat 500 as a “chick car,” like the new Beetle and thought it was the wrong vehicle for entering the U.S. market. It’s too much a niche auto, and its nostalgic shape refers back to a car not important in American automotive history.

    A Fiat Panda, with the Twinair engine, at a base price of $12,000 would be the kind of risk-taking vehicle for a manufacturer that could turn into big sales. Or the Lancia Musa as a PT Cruiser replacement. That would do a lot better.

    The Fiat I’m most impressed by is the Brazilian Palio and its variations, the Adventure and Strada pickup, especially in Locker version. Locker refers to high ground clearance front wheel drive with a locking differential, and it provides nearly all the advantages of 4WD without the weight, complexity, cost and fuel penalties. This would be a vehicle group that would perfectly fit North America’s flyover country: the Northwoods, Great Plains and Intermountain.

    • 0 avatar
      tallnikita

      Panda – exactly! All I wanna do with 500 is smash its cute rear against a wall just to see the stupid thing crumble.

      I know I know, 5 star safety rating. Tell that to the rear seat passengers with their head bouncing against the glass. What a scam.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      Bringing the Panda here to supplement sales until the much delayed Alfa Romeo launch is a great idea.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    I was rooting for this car because it seems to have personality. Maybe we have too many memories of Fiats parked in back yards under a foot of pine needles.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Just wait for another oil price spike and the herd will stampede back into small cars and hybrids.

  • avatar
    Boff

    *Full Disclosure* I’ve owned my 500 for 3 days. I combed the inventories of all the dealers in Ontario…the one I bought from, which was representative, had 34 cars on the lot, and only one or two were my desired Sport model with a manual. I got the impression that Chrysler had stuffed the sales channel with automatics that were not really moving. Not sure if this is actually true but that was just my feeling. I picked mine while it was in transit, and the salesman said after I handed over the money that two other people were sniffing around it after me.

    At any rate it is probably too early to pronounce flop as the dealer network is not yet fully in place and marketing is only now getting rolling. Plus the aforementioned slide in sales of fuel efficient vehicles as a class.

    I will say that the 500 will likely never hit its sales target, as it is too small and too pricey. It is certainly no sports car, but performance car fans are too thin on the ground to make much of an impact. If it sells even half of Cooper volume you’d have to think FIATsler would be happy. The most important role for the 500 though is to establish a beachhead for future FIATs with more potential for volume sales. Thus its reliability and quality will be the big issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The dealer network is as large as it ever is going to get right now. The poor sales have pretty much sealed the deal the no sane dealer is going to sign on at this point. Noew if they were going to allow any Dodge dealer to sell them w/o the need for the separate salon, parts and service facilities then maybe they will see the number of dealers stocking them will go up. Of course that would cause big problems with those dealers who have spent the money setting up the salons and stand alone service facilities. So the number of dealers will not go up.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        If the brand utterly tanks, the dealerships who spent the money on a salon pretty much lose everything. If Dodge dealers (if Dodge doesn’t disappear) sell Fiats, that may keep the brand viable, and then the prior dealerships can be made specialty shops with certain advantages, such as first pick of hard-to-find models or similar.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I also suspect that the years of horrid reliability has not been forgotten. As a guy who’s friend had a Brava, I can attest to the endless list of issues he had. Great driving car, but forget about trusting it. Fiat may have come a long way, but I suspect most rational folks will wait to see what they are in for…

  • avatar
    Joss

    Regardless what to do now drop the price.. Cut back on the options and models – out with leather & lounge… – what else can Fiat do?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Bring the Abarth over, like they should have done when the 500 launched in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      Hire the old MINI ad agency or where ever those guys ended up and give then a decend budget to do cool non-TV stuff, not the bush league crap going on now.

      Plan for 30-40k cars in a good year and let it be in demand if it turns out to be more than that.

      Push hard in big cities in the coasts and Canada

      Bring in a CNG or biofuel version and go for the green before the sporty Abarth

      Don’t be afraid that to show that it’s Italian.

      Get it in car sharing fleets

      Get the aftermarket fired up about it rather than trying to control all customization through the dealers.

      Sell special high end editions, Cygnet-like, when you buy a Ferrari.

  • avatar
    Littlecarrot

    I live in Southern Oregon , where the metropolitan area of Medford-Grants Pass is about 200k. The closest Fiat dealer is four hours away in Portland. Our local Chrysler mega-dealer apparently is selling 500s ” gray market” -meaning slightly used and at a premium. I like the 500 but it’s price point seems too high. At 12 to 14K, they’d probably sell like hotcakes.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    It’s pretty obvious that the 500 won’t meet the 50k / year volume target, but it’s too early to declare it a complete flop. A small car like this is a niche vehicle in North America, so you wouldn’t expect huge volume. How do 500 average transaction prices and volumes compare with Smart, or even the Yaris?

    When I was in Montreal back in May there were all kinds of 500s buzzing around, but I don’t see as many out West. I expect certain market regions like the 500 more than others.

    What Chrysler really needs, and lacks, right now is a competitive C segment car that can compete head on with the Focus, Cruze and Elantra.

  • avatar
    ixim

    It looks good on the outside; pretty nice on the inside; decent real world MPG; if it met my needs, which it doesn’t, I’d try one…..on a lease.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Driven several..rented one for a long weekend with the wife to go to Helen, GA…love…love…love the little car, and am anxiously awaiting the Abarth next week to see what they’ll bring to our shores in the way of HP and price. Much as I love the 500, right now our country just isn’t in tune to small cars…even the Mini isn’t exactly selling in stellar numbers. It’s too bad, as the 500 is a really unique and fun car that I wish would gain more traction here. But in the Midwest, it’ll be hard to overcome the “pick-up” mentality and bigger is better attitude we have towards cars. Of course, after this past weekend’s camping trip with the Scouts where my Lancer Sportback Ralliart scrapped bottom along the entire “road” into camp, I’m left wondering how practical an Abarth will be for me. The heart says “Abarth…”

  • avatar

    goofy looking little thing, surprised anyone would want one.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      And people still wonder why the rest of the world thinks that Americans have curious taste. A stylish, modern interpretation of a design classic is considered “goofy looking”. By a guy who sells cars from a company that slaps chintzy chrome noses on blandmobiles and considers drilling three holes in the front fender “design tradition”.

      No personal offense, I just think your comment epitomizes the huge chasm between the US market and the rest of the world…

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Well said. And I’m an American.

        I cannot, simply cannot, wrap my head around Buick’s sense of “design”.

      • 0 avatar

        “A stylish, modern interpretation of a design classic is considered ‘goofy looking’.”

        no offense in return, but your comment reminds me of neo classical architects criticizing Howard Roark. to me the 500 is “Failing In Appearance Tony”.

        and btw, I’m a guy who sells all makes and models while being the biggest fault finder in analyzing Buick and General Motors. I will give them credit though as I see the Enclave as one of the roads’ most beautiful and distinguished travelers.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “I see the Enclave as one of the roads’ most beautiful and distinguished travelers.”

        I whole-heartedly agree with that statement! I just wish I could afford to own and drive one in that gorgeous metallic brown!

        As for the Fiat 500 – the Mini looks like a Cadillac next to it, as the 500 has all the “feel” of a beer can. I see few of them n the Cincinnati area, but Minis are everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        Do you want to sell the damn stupid things, or do you just want to claim that they are not selling because Americans have curious taste?

        Anyone losing millions on this car should have considered the curious taste before launching it. Expecting Americans to love a classic design they have never before seen, in a size two sizes too small, in a country this size, was a risk not worth taking.

        After living overseas, I understand how quickly Americans are dismissed as having curious taste, but I also know how quickly that curious taste becomes overwhelmingly popular overseas.

        Very curious indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Bowler300

      I think the same thing every time I see a pickup truck with nothing in the bed. Or a huge SUV with one person in it.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    I’ve rented the 500 about 4 or 5 times now, ranging in locations from Texas to New England. It’s usually my first choice unless a near-luxury car is available. (Please no more Sonatas, Chargers, Impalas or Fusions.)

    The 500 is a joy to drive in urban settings, but quite underpowered on the highway. The interior plastic parts seem quite fragile, so I’d really hesitate to buy a 500.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The competition is only getting tougher. The Chevrolet Sonic and Spark are on the way. The Sonic will have more room, a lot more horsepower, and better MPG – not to mention thousands of Chevrolet dealers selling them. Say what you will about Chevrolet dealers, but they know how to move the metal.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Personally,I think Fiat thought they could load up all the 500`s and sell a ton…those days are over.Which makes me worry about the whole marketing concept so far…If Fiat really wanted to make the numbers the ‘Sport’ would be around $15,500. base at $13,000 and stock the majority of them with manual transmissions.Gouge all you want for the ‘lounge and soft-top’ versions but,my God man,get the cars out on the street!!Word of mouth will sell them. Ive owned a couple of Fiats and they have a special place in my heart…too bad whoever is in charge of marketing in the U.S is going to screw up the whole thing!
    What a fu_ _ ing mess!!!!!

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’ve heard that their sales are slowing, but as others have said, ALL small car sales are slowing to one degree or another.

    That said, the 50,000 isn’t just for the US, but ALL of N. America so the US only gets part of that pie.

    Also, while some dealers have been open since March, most of the rest didn’t come online until at least June, if not over the summer and into Sept and the ads have only just begun as late as late August, early Sept. Fiat of Kirkland here north of Seattle has only been open since July, Fiat of Tacoma has only been open about the same time frame, give or take and we were to have a dealer IN Seattle but it so far has not opened and the Vancouver WA store isn’t even listed but was for a while.

    I hope this is a short term thing as this car is really worth it and the Abarth is supposed to come on line early next year, like January if I’m not mistaken.

    Also, I’ve heard the take up rate for manual is roughly half of all Fiats sold, which is a significantly higher rate than expected so that may well be playing a part in their current slump in sales as dealers have flooded their lots with the automatics.

    I really do wish them well but please do us all a favor and not be so fast to write them off as I go by the old saying, it aint over until the fat lady sings and the price of gas that we see now may or may not last and when it does go back up, small cars will be all the rage again and at that time, it may not come back down – especially if the gas tax gets raised.

  • avatar
    stuart

    I’m sorry to agree, 500s aren’t selling very well here in the Silicon Valley. I suppose the distance to the nearest FIAT dealer (about 30 minutes north) might be part of the problem. We have two MINI dealers that are much closer, and MINIs are very common here.

    Tis a shame. I used to run FIATs, they were a blast to drive, and they were reliable for me (I did all of my own work). I have many fond memories of them. I really wanted FIAT to succeed. But FIATs failure serves me right; I’ve never bought anything new, and car manufacturers naturally don’t care about the used-car-buying demographic.

    stuart

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    I’ve always had the opinion that the ONLY reason the 500 was launched in the US was to get the extra 5% of Chrysler. There should have been very little in engineering costs, and granted it isn’t cheap setting up a production line, but when you get an entire car company at a steal, then you can get another 5% with very little effort, who wouldn’t go for it. I’m sure Fiat would like for the 500 to take off, but I doubt they are going to lose much sleep over it if it does indeed flop.

  • avatar
    redseca2

    I live in a statistically irrelevant place – San Francisco.

    But they are beginning to crop up about one a block in the parked cars on the street in the trendy city center. The nearest dealership is in the east bay about 30 miles away, so you have to kind of work to buy one.

    I cannot imagine cars like this becoming a serious big seller in the US overall, but in towns like SF, Boston, NYC they make perfect sense. It doesn’t matter if it is a Mini of a Fiat 500, the first time you see one do a 180 in a 30 foot wide street at 11:30PM to nail a parking space on a Friday night and the BMW 5 that thought it had it just has to keep looking, well, you know they have a purpose in life.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’ve seen quite a few in this town, but it is Portland OR. Wife thinks they’re cute. If it’s reliable, it might yet make a good used car one day.

  • avatar
    Manic

    So yes, if 50000 pa is for all of NA and in Canada they find buyers too, then where’s the problem actually? Where’s the Canadian sales data for Fiat 500, maybe they move 25k there and 25k in US? Mexico is not probably NA in their books.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Canadian sales were 405 in October and 4,769 YTD. Notably Mini (including all its model variations) is slightly behind in the YTD numbers in Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I wouldn’t think the 500 would do very well in a country where snow is a constant for half the year. The Canadians I work with all said the same thing about it, ‘Not enough ground clearence’. Mexico, especially Mexico City, would be a much better market as this seems to be a hot weather car.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The ease of parking is surely a factor, as not all of us live in igloos that have indoor parking.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The megadealer near me just established a Fiat dealership and has 36 cars in stock – all of them automatics. This same dealership also had Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Oldsmobile, and Saab in the past. But don’t worry; they have some winners, too. I drive past this lot every day so I’ll be keeping an eye on them.

    Here in western PA we’re starting to see more 500s on the roads these days.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Throw some cash on the hood. If they get me out the door in a 500C for twenty grand, I’m in.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    Here in Metro Detroit, the only ones I have ever seen were on dealer lots. Or with manufacturer plates…

    I did test drive one for the fun of it a few months ago. Cute, fun, cheap feeling. And slow. Driving one of those on I-696 was scary fun. Like “I am going to get run over by a Tahoe any second now” fun.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Anything less than a full size truck or SUV on 696 is scary fun. Nothing like doing 80 MPH in bumper to bumper traffic, and if you haven’t experienced it, it’s everyone doing 80 with a car length ahead.

      This is only one of a few times were I actually drive with both hands on the wheel, scanning all the mirrors, looking for brake lights way ahead and love every minute of it.

  • avatar
    solracer

    I wonder if it’s just that small car sales are flopping in general. On the Fiesta forums I saw that the sales of most small cars are down with the Fiesta dropping to a tad over 4,000 and the Fit dropping to less than 3,000 loosing out to the Sonic of all things. My guess is that the poor economy and the difficulty of getting credit is making it hard for the folks that normally buy entry-level cars to buy new. While 2,000 a month may sound low it’s the same as the Kia Rio and no one calls that a “flop”.

    October sales of other small cars (from FiestaFaction):

    Nissan Versa 8,889
    Kia Soul 7,109
    Toyota Yaris 6,792 (!)
    Ford Fiesta 4,124
    Chevy Sonic 3,833
    Honda Fit 2,822
    Kia Rio 2,005

  • avatar
    Speed3

    These are starting to pop up all over the streets of SF; however Minis still out number ‘em like 100:1. Maybe if Fiat had an SF dealer that would solve their problem. Short car in SF = place to park :)

  • avatar
    cmoibenlepro

    I went in Rome this weekend, they are everywhere.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Fix It Again Tony (FIAT) or BMW MINI?

    That’s how my g/f sees the decision.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Kinda like…”gee, maybe my Ford Fiesta will explode upon impact…because, well…you know that the Pintos did way back in the 70s, right??” The Fix It Again Tony moniker is kind of wearing thin…most people looking at the 500 can’t even remember a time when FIAT was sold here in America. Let the reliability figures speak for themselves. If it winds up being a POS, then fine…regardless, I’m still looking forward to tomorrow (the 16th) when the Abarth variant gets introduced to our market…

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Fiat still brings up the rear in the European reliability surveys that I’ve seen.

        The real problems, though, are a lack of dealer coverage and hardly any advertising support. I’ve seen a grand total of one 500 on the road since it was introduced.

        I’ve seen one television commercial for the car – the one featuring Jennifer Lopez. Since then, I haven’t seen any other commmercials on television.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Check with your Hertz agents if you want to rent one. I recently sat next to a guy on a plane. He manages an auto repair shop that specializes in European cars. When his customers need to rent wheels, he calls Hertz and they drop off a 500.

    It sounds like Chrysler is still up to it’s old tricks. The Sebring was a staple of the rental fleets. And now, the 500.

    I’m not sure I’d want to buy one of these “used.”

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The MINI and 500 sales seem to be interrelated, with the MINI dipping as the 500 surged, but the MINI dip could have been caused by something else.

    The 500 is all hat and no cattle, while the MINI has a monopoly on being a B class car designed to the level that it is. The Fit, Fiesta and Veloster do come close to the NA MINI, but nobody else has a 1.6 liter turbo on the market yet (unless the Juke is counted as a B segment car). When the Veloster 1.6 liter turbo comes it will be a MINI S competitor.

    I do NOT like how the MINI looks, outside and particularly inside, but would consider a MINI S as a daily driver.

    On the other hand, nobody that doesn’t like how the 500 looks has any reason to consider it.

    It’s interesting to note that the 500 shares its platform with the new Ford Ka, which reviewers in Europe (at least Clarkson) seem to think is a piece of junk compared to the new Fiesta, but that the new Ford Fiesta costs less than a 500.

  • avatar
    v65magnafan1

    Back to Southern Ontario for a moment. About ten percent of the Greater Toronto Area is of Italian descent. This would represent about 300,000 people. Way back when, Fiats were as ubiquitous as Volkswagen Beetles, even though road salt decommissioned these cars in just a few winters–and parts supply and iffy mechanics killed off the rest.

    When Ladas (Fiat 124 derivatives) were available, lots were sold. Even though road salt, parts and mechanics killed them off, too. Alfas and other exotics were common in Toronto.

    So, one would think that Fiats would sell like crazy up here. Er, no. they are lined up like crazy in dealer lots. I might see one-per-week registered and on the road.

    My wife, of Italian descent, says that they are boutique cute, but just too small. I say that memories of Italian disposable cars the the tight job situation for young people will kill the brand here, too.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I like the 500 and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Abarth will actually be like, but I wonder if Fiat shoots itself in the foot by having J. Lo in its ads and in effect not fighting the “chick car” label. The idea that this is seen as a “chick car” does a couple things; in theory it knocks about 50% of your potential market out of contention and it focuses on the 50% that for the most part don’t car about cars. When is the last time a car labeled a “chick car” was ever a sales leader? For all the marketing studies that say that women are the decision leaders on major household purposes like cars, I’m curious about this.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Jimal: For all the marketing studies that say that women are the decision leaders on major household purposes like cars, I’m curious about this.

      The key word in your post is “household.” If the woman is part of a household, she likely has children. Most women have no desire to stuff children – let alone child seats and assorted baby gear – in the back seat of a car the size of a 500.

      The natural customer base for this car – younger single women – has been hammered by this recession. A lot of them simply don’t have the money for ANY new vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        I look no further than my wife to see that you are absolutely correct on this. Which is a good reason to fight the “chick car” label. If your market is that small and that economically depressed, do something to make your product attractive to a wider audience.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Fiat/Chrysler needs to bring over a performance version, and somehow get it on the cover of Car and Driver, and get Jack Baruth to review it on this site.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Price is the killer in the small car arena. Enough Hyundai Accents were sold over the past ten years to prove that a craptacular car can still find a home if its cheap enough. Unfortunately inflation and the economy seems to have moved past the point of where a decent small car will be available for less than $15K, which old farts like me think is the most anyone should pay for a small car. Otherwise you spend that money on something 2 years old and nicer with a dealers warranty.

  • avatar
    bosshawk

    Why does everyone want to talk about the reliability of the 500 and compare it to MINI? MINI consistently ranks dead last on every reliability survey…

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    I’ve posted this before — the lack of dealer coverage is a disaster.

    Here in northern NJ, you either have to go into Manhattan or head 20 +miles west to get to a dealer. That’s ridiculous.

    There are some on the roads here, but not many. Yes, there are lots of Minis, but then they’ve been selling here for quite a few years. I think I’ve only seen 1 Countryman on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      God help ‘em with trying to sell those in hyperlocal New Jersey. As little as people like to drive here, the dealer might as well be in the Yukon Territory.

    • 0 avatar
      devilsadvocate

      Yeah, it would be tragic to spend 15 minutes driving to the nearest dealer. Perhaps all automakers should have a dealer on every corner like Walmart and Walgreens.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Here’s what Fiat should do:
    - Introduce a new base model with limited options/colors for $12,995.
    - Cut the Pop trim to $14,495.
    - Cut the Sport trim to $15,995 (eliminate standard Bose).
    - Cut the Lounge trim to $17,495 (eliminate the standard auto trans but make the leather seats standard).
    - Cut the “convertible” prices by $2,000. Add a Sport trim to the convertible mix.
    - Price the new Abarth to start at $19,995.

  • avatar
    CaptBlackberry

    My girlfriend has had one since early May 2011 and absolutely loves it (as do I). She ordered a Sport with the manual tranny in Verde Chiaro and a brown interior. It is the perfect car for her inner city dwelling lifestyle. I can see where the appeal is limited due to its diminutive size and limited people and cargo hauling capabilities.

    They are becoming quite common in the Boston area but are no where as common as the Mini. I love the way it drives and happily zip around town. The small size is definitely a big advantage in Boston and Cambridge. We live on our sailboat year round in Boston Harbor so small spaces are just fine with us. Parking is, as you would imagine, a breeze and we often find that we can park in spots that are too small for anything but the 500 or a Smart.

    Reliability at 8,000 miles has been exemplary; no squeaks or rattles or any other issues.

    My one complaint is that the ride is a bit noisy on the highway and the the ride motion can be a bit hobby-horsish at highway speeds. The lack of power only means you have to plan your highway entrances a bit more than a higher powered car. Efficieny is quite good as well; on a trip to Annapolis in October we averaged 41 MPG and kept the speeds up near 70 or 75 MPH.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      “They are becoming quite common in the Boston area but are no where as common as the Mini.”

      I’d say that’s a pretty solid endorsement for the 500 considering the Mini’s been around for a dog’s age.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The 500 launch will be used as a future text book example of how NOT to launch a car/brand in the U.S. First of all, they badly miscalculated how many dealers were going to be available at launch (way too few). The car had virtually no advertising until recently, and then they chose to use JLo of all people in a series of crappy ads that do more to promote her than the car, and only reinforce the “chick car” image. The cars are slightly overpriced and they have a shortage of manual trans models because they miscalculated the take rate, plus the high zoot Lounge trim is only available with an auto trans, thus cutting out probably 50% of the buyers that might want the high end version. The “convertible” is priced too high, and they curiously don’t offer a Sport version. They should have launched the Abarth right from the start, but now that it is going to be available, they better start it at just under $20,000 to make it a success.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I was interested simply due to Top Gear’s James May review, I loaded the family up and we went for a look – holy cow batman, the dealer had 500′s parked everywhere on the lot and not one customer. The poor salesman were looking at us like Rosie Odonald looking at a stack of Little Debbie snacks. My eldest daughter (high school senior and future NC State student – fingers crossed) asked – can you put more than 2 people in those? Well, looking at a side view, it sure looks iffy. I said yeah I think so, she replied that it was too damn small and she would feel like a she was driving our golf cart. We didn’t stop, I just couldn’t take seeing a fight between 4 guys as to who would try to help us. Next door at the Dodge dealer, everybody liked the Charger, especially ME! Too bad we’re broke – I did mention I have a daughter to send to college, ok, you understand. And don’t get me started on car insurance on a teen!

    • 0 avatar
      daveTong

      ” can you put more than 2 people in those? Well, looking at a side view, it sure looks iffy. I said yeah I think so, she replied that it was too damn small and she would feel like a she was driving our golf cart”

      Y’all must be pretty fat then. My family had one of the original 500s – which were about 3/4 of the size of the new 500s – when I was growing up in Europe and we managed to fit me, my brother, my sister, my mom and my dad in it without breaking a sweat.

      You can fit a whole family of normal sized people in a fiat 500, but only two septics. Problem is with the size of the yanks, not the size of the car.

  • avatar
    sjmst

    Before everyone sprains their shoulders patting themselves on the back for foreseeing the demise of FIAT, back up.
    The car was launched in March, with first real sales in April.

    I have 18,000 miles on mine. My car before this was a Bimmer 3 series. I enjoy the FIAT just as much. I commute from Long Island to NJ every day, in all kinds of weather and traffic. Highway and city. I average 38 MPG, the car runs fine on 87 octane. Four people can fit into it. I have never had a problem with any practicality issues. It is rock solid on the highway and runs like Toyota in term of reliability (minus the recalls).

    I know chanting Fix It Again Tony shows real automotive acumen, but that was 30 years ago. I checked the calendar. Let’s see what happens now.

    The only opinions I have read above that have any real value are those that have test driven one, or better yet, own one. You don’t like the looks? Fine. But other than that, tell us something substantive and objective.
    It is too soon to write off FIAT, but if that does happen then say “I told you so.”

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Substantive and objective? Whether the car is any good or not, the sales are less than impressive and the dealers are sitting on a massive amount of inventory.

      • 0 avatar
        sjmst

        “Substantive and objective? Whether the car is any good or not, the sales are less than impressive and the dealers are sitting on a massive amount of inventory.”

        I agree, that’s a good point.

        I would say to FIAT not to worry.
        Some things will happen to spur sales

        1) The Abarth and its “halo” effect
        2) Better marketing
        3) More dealerships open and better trained
        4) More owners telling their neighbors they love the car and that it got through the snow just fine.

  • avatar
    JEM

    Anecdotal observation: we’ve got a few around here (SF Bay Area) but so far Nissan Leafs outnumber them 3-1.

    The 500 drives okay. It’s nothing special. At least it’s not a big car trying to pretend to be a small car (VW “Beetle”, anyone?”) – it is what it is. The couple I’ve been in have had little stuff falling off and points of detail design (OBD-II plug, big bundles of wiring floating around on the floor around the seats) not well thought through.

    If nothing else on the Chrysler front the new 300 is nice, and the latest batch of Dodge and Jeep SUVs are a whole lot better than the horrid plastic shipping-crates that preceded them.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Interesting sales chart. Shows there is a pretty steady market for about 6,000 of these “boutique” cars per month (not including other Mini versions like Clubman). I have a feeling that Mini may have noticed that their marketshare was dropping in exact proportion to the ascent of the 500 until about September, when they probably decided to do something about it. I wouldn’t dig a grave for the 500 just yet. I think a lot of potential customers are waiting for the soon to be introduced Abarth version. That, some price/equipment tweaks and a better ad campaign (without JLo PLEASE), and I think 500 will do just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Brantta

      @(not including other Mini versions like Clubman).

      Graph in the article includes all versions of Mini Cooper, but Countryman.

      October 2011

      Cooper Hardtop/Cooper Hardtop S……….2,077
      Cooper Convertible/Cooper Convertible S….399
      Cooper Clubman/Cooper Clubman S…………513
      Cooper Coupe/Cooper Coupe S…………….414
      TOTAL: 3,403

      Fiat 500/Fiat 500C…………………..1,965

  • avatar
    mjz

    Original sales goal of 50,000 is only 4,167 cars per month, revised goal of 40,000 is only 3,333 cars per month. When the Abarth goes on sale, that should be pretty doable as they sold over 3,000 units in August.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      One month does not a year make.

      As to the Abarth, a big question mark is how FIAT will price it. If it’s too expensive, it’s halo effect will be pretty much nil, too.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Saw 2 on my way to work this morning. Austin, TX.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    When you do a retro style car a good idea is to style it as something good. The original 500 may have been the ducks guts in Italy but elsewhere it was rubbish slow cramped gutless apallingly unreliable just junk The memory of its predecessor alone would prevent me buying a new one. Retro only works if the original was OK.

  • avatar

    As a Fiat 500 owner, I have to defend the car. It’s fun and cute. Everyone that’s seen my baby has fallen in love with it. Oh, and the 500 Abarth is debuting today, with 160 turbocharged horses.

    I wouldn’t declare it a failure just yet. But that could be because I own one. Give it time.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m seeing more of these on the roads in Portland, Maine. Red and white seem to be popular colours. I actually went past Fiat of Portland last night and they have a large lot full of them. Makes me wonder if the dealers that opened Fiat dealerships are regretting their decision.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    Just another sub compact that looks like clowns could coming flying out of it at any second (in this case, Italian clowns)…Makes the new, new Beetle seem almost ‘manly’…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    A week or so ago I saw a black one, it was the first one I have seen in the flesh.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    There are a lot of them in my neighborhood in DC. I see more every day. Here, they’re a perfect fit. With better marketing, it could do well. Not a great hit, but a solid performer that brings the FIAT brand back into good standing in the US. I suggest they dump J-Lo and think hard about the kinds of people in my neighborhood who buy their cars. Yuppies, mainly. Why not push the Italian angle? Make it the choice for well-dressed, fashion conscious urbanites? Feature lots of amazingly dressed Italian men and women. Sort of: the car for people who appreciate a good cappucino.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      A friend has one. Classic fashionista. Well dressed (as in dressed well beyond her means; she still lives off daddy), purse dog, the whole nine yards. For the money she (eh, daddy) paid, it just isn’t much of a car. Daddy thinks she’s frugal, since he was pushing hard for her to get a 3 series or a Q5.

      Normally when you buy a $40,000 European Luxury branded car, you pay $20K for solid engineering, and another $20K for Eurochic. Fiat, in order to bring the price to $20K, decided to leave out the former part, keeping the chic. Different folks, different priorities, I guess…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Saw my first ever one on the road today (Indianapolis area).

    Both dealers here are located in shopping malls (Keystone & Greenwood).

    Probably cheap leases since malls themselves are dying slowly and have lots of vacancies.

    You sort of get the vibe that two years from now that space could be Gap, Restoration Hardware, or American Eagle.

  • avatar
    siuol11.2

    Good riddance to that ugly POS. I hope the US media starts mentioning how the “bailout” of Chrysler has increasingly meant the shuffling of funds to one of Europe’s more sub-standard carmakers and their douchtastic CEO.

  • avatar
    edmonds59

    No one who would be interested in the 500 would have the Chevy Sonic or Kia Rio on their consideration list. Seriously. Maybe the Kia Soul, or Fiesta, they’re kind of cool.
    I am starting to see these around Pittsburgh, I love the things. But somebody is seriously crapping the bed on dealer distribution, advertising, and marketing. One of the genius things that Mini did was to set it’s area dealer in the heart of the city (geographical, not downtown), near hip housing and the colleges. That and the clever, thought provoking ads, not taking itself seriously. The 2 dealers who have taken up the 500 are 30 minutes from town in the freaking exurbs, fer xsakes. And that many automatics?!?! WTF? The 500 ad disguised as a musical performance last night at the Music Awards was an embarrasment to everyone involved. Dear god, dump JLo, please, she is no Eminem. If you want to go that route, at least get Nicki Minaj. Listening, Chrysler?
    I can’t help out though, won’t be buying one soon, my 1973 original mini is still running fine.

  • avatar
    KrisT

    Fiat should never have re-entered the US market. They are going to great effort and expense to sell relatively few cars that may easily tarnish their image in the US for another 30 years.
    There is a huge culture gap between US & European car makers that has seen so many failures and I don’t believe Fiat can bridge that gap.

  • avatar
    car follower

    It’s unfortunate that some of their dealers spent money to build showrooms and new facilities to sell this cute little car that has been a flop. seems to me I read where Sergio and Company only appointed 130 dealers and 29 didn’t even sell one last month. You can count on them putting money on the hood and letting every dealer sell them . On the streets of Italy they look cute against all their local competition but here they look rather out of place. Their rated at 98hp and to get all that little bit of power out of them you have to buy premium gas. The entry market car buyer does not buy premium gas.

  • avatar
    nozferatu

    What hurts the FIAT is J Lo’z commercial…it is pathetic…and has destroyed this car’s image.

    This car needs a serious GTI Style commercial of the 70′s and 80′s showing the car’s fun factor, sportiness, and style…not some lame dancer/singer running through a ghetto reminiscing about how food was tough to come by…absolutely stupid!

  • avatar
    nozferatu

    Looks like MINI was a failure too back in April…right?

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    nozferatu….my guess would be that the reason they used JHO in the commercial is because they plan to market the car toward females.

  • avatar
    pja48142

    Here in Toledo we have a ton of Chrysler employees because of the Jeep and Chrysler plants here. We had one of the first Fiat dealers in the country, because they must’ve thought employees would flock to it. They didn’t. In fact, the dealer was slapping a $2000 ADM on each car at first. That helped keep them off the roads. Now the dealer is advertising them as a special employee lease at $99/month with $2995 down. In the Chrysler world there are often extra incentives for employees and family that are not available to the general public. That extra incentive plus $2995 must get the lease down to $99/month. We’ll see if anymore hit the roads of NE Ohio….

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    This chart leaves a lot of room for interpretation. One could also argue from this data that for the past few months, Mini and Fiat have essentially split the market for small European coupes, though Fiat did it with a fraction of the dealers, no incentive cash/financing, and only one available base engine while Mini had turbos to sell. From this perspective, they are holding their own while the market waits for more dealers and the Abarth.

    Personally, I really wanted to love the 500. I was in the UK shortly after it was introduced there and accompanied a friend to a dealer when he was shopping for one. This guy is a big car nut, driving a collection of classic MGs and a Bentley, and he bought one with a 1.2 L multiair engine as his daily driver and he loves it.

    When the dealership finally opened here near me in Northern California I went to drive one. The salesman was enthusiastic about the car and seemed very knowledgeable. I was looking for a manual transmission and he lamented at the time that nearly all of his sales were manuals but his inventory was heavy on automatics (seems someone at Fiat listened to people at Chrysler who said that there is no market in the U.S. for stick shift cars).

    I drove a Sport model (the only one he had available with the manual) and thought it was OK but underwhelming. Other than the styling there just didn’t seem to be much to the driving experience different from any small Japanese car. The engine, for all the hype, just didn’t offer breathtaking fuel economy and just sounded like any droning 4-cylinder… I was hoping for a bit more character to make up for the performance… sort of like an older Miata that sounded tuned and fun despite a relative lack of oomph… but this just didn’t feel or sound special in any way.

    From a pricing perspective, I actually think the base Pop model was a very fairly priced car. It included nearly all of the options one would really want, including power everything, USB for my iPhone, and the same engine as the other cars. Another $500 would add alloys for a total of $16k. This is but a small price premium over a Mazda2 or even a Hyundai. However, most of the cars on his lot were loaded Sports and Lounge models with sticker prices near or over $20k, and at this price point it just didn’t seem like enough difference over the base Pop.

    Oh, and the sunroof was terribly designed. Where I live, Sacramento, it gets into the triple digits in the summer with no cloud cover and the sunroof had no fully opaque shade, the screen it comes with just let way too much heat into the car. Mini had the same design flaw, actually, what, it doesn’t get sunny in Europe? England I can understand the oversight, but not Italy. If one lives in California or the Southwestern U.S. the sunroof is a no-go option.


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