By on March 9, 2012

 

Gucci is no stranger to OEM trim packages for major manufacturers. The House of Gucci originally lent its unique Italian flavor to somewhat of an Intercontinental Bastard: a leaf sprung, Chevy Nova based Cadillac with a Spanish name.

That car is the original Seville, but the 1979 model. And while hideous, the sheer audacity of the Gucci Seville puts every Seville after 1985 to shame. That’s because the second-generation (1980-1985) Cadillac Seville made for the most Gucci worthy platform on the planet. It’s Hooper body throwback design was dying for something as ludicrous as Gucci’s graphics.

But the nicest Gucci for people looking for the basics of this designer brand in a non-offensive wrapper was the 1989 Lincoln Town Car Gucci edition.  The canvas top was solid blue, white paint, and sported a very tame (by Gucci standards) leather and cloth seat design.  This car was a looker, plus the Lincoln Town Car was a machine to be respected on presence, durability and value.  Not so with any Caddy from this era, which sported powertrains about as durable as knock-offs of said designer’s handbags. The sensible Gucci?  Well, perhaps not.

But now we have the FIAT 500 Gucci. Perhaps it’s because both designs are Italian in heritage, the meeting of these two brands is rather seamless. Too bad I can’t say perfect.

 

The front of the new 500 is cute and pretty enough, and Gucci’s chrome bumper guards don’t necessarily add or detract from the package. From here there’s no reason to question the 500’s staying power against the MINI Cooper.

 

Not so as we start moving across. Note the ratio of sheet metal in the wheel arch to the wheels. Note the sheer bulkiness of the side view mirrors. This car is becoming less cute. Which is far less cool than a MINI Cooper.

 

Don’t get me wrong, those Gucci wheels are pure decadence and deliciousness.  And making them body color is even cooler, fashion statement wise.  The B-pillar badging is totally worth bragging about. What lets the whole package down is the fact that the FIAT 500 is taller and clumsier looking than the MINI Cooper. See that body side crease right above the door handle? If the greenhouse started there and the roof line ended accordingly, this would be a very pretty, unquestionably cute vehicle.

Instead, FIAT gave us a dumpy little crossover, an alternative to a Suzuki SX4…but only in styling terms, of course.

 

Once again, imagine the FIAT 500 if the crease in the middle was where the greenhouse started. We’d have a serious threat to the MINI’s lock on cuteness and fashionista approved style.

 

That said, the details on the FIAT 500 Gucci drop top do not disappoint. The Gucci fabric for the roof is pretty slick, even though I seriously doubt most men would publicly admit this. But it is true: so go ahead and feel good about it.

 

Here’s a shot of that B-pillar. Yes, it does make you feel a little more special when you enter the 500’s cabin. And that’s precisely why designer editions of regular vehicles exist!

 

I don’t normally want to photograph the inside of a vehicle for this series, but the Gucci’s trimmings are worth the effort. The “Double G” leather, two-tone design, Gucci stripe inserts and matching seatbelts are like nothing seen on a modern car.  In this age of boring gray, tan, black or an interesting color merely used as an accent (I’m looking at every car with brown seats but still with black carpets and dashtops) the Gucci 500’s trimmings are a serious breath of fresh air. I like it.

I suspect the polarizing nature of the Gucci combined with the Italian cute factor of the 500 make it a perfect pairing. But if only that belt line went down, since it needs that to be a beautiful car.

Put another way, I wonder what it would take to get a Gucci trimmed MINI Cooper instead. That would be a winner.

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29 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 FIAT 500 Gucci Convertible...”


  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    I can’t wait for one to end up in the Junkyard so Murilee can compare it to the Levi’s Pacer.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the running script badges on the B-pillar is so terribly gauche

    the seat pattern and the stark B&W dash isn’t that bad but overall i can’t much that’s more tasteless

  • avatar
    relton

    I don’t think you shiuld be dissing those forst generation Sevilles. I drove many miles in one of these. While there may be some Nova parts underneath, the effect is quite different.

    For example, Nova and Seville both had leaf springs. But the mountings and isolation were quite different on the Seville. The Seville had a different arrangement of liners between the leaves. And, the Seville had a completely different arrangement for the rear sway bar, done to reduce the transmission of road noise to the cabin.

    I also thought these Sevilles were exceptionally handsome, in a quiet and conservative way.

    I never saw a Gucci version, but the d’Elegance version looked quite, well, elegant to me.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar

      Even though I was dissing them, I was far nicer to them than every Seville after it. Even the Versailles was a step up from the Granada in terms of luxury bits, performance hardware and NVH control.

      And if I can admire a Versailles, I do get what made the first Seville so awesome.

  • avatar

    Hi Sajeev!

    This is almost the first time I’m gonna disagree with you…

    BMW’s Mini leaves me cold. I prefer the 500. In all aspects. Design (interiorand exterior), handling, comfort. Even in this gaudy Gucci set up I’d take it over any Mini any day.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the beauty of “styling”, its so subjective. Agreeing with me isn’t an especially good idea.

      • 0 avatar

        naw, I like your choice in cars! I think, though you are a big car guy and I’m an any-size-car-as-long-as-it’s-good-by-me car guy, I appreciate your love and understanding of all things automotive.

        I know my liking of the 500 is quite uncommon and weird for most Americans, but what can I do? For example, if I lived in America and let my passions flow I’d be torn between a 500 and an orange Challenger R/T. Or maybe a bullit Mustang. Or a Flex. Or a Cube.

        See, I love all kinds of cars. It’s just that the 500 fires up my imagination much more than the Mini. But I’m glad both exist.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      I agree. I could see driving a 500, but not a Mini.

      • 0 avatar

        Kudos on your good taste sir!

        Though I see Sajeev’s point on the windows, it really doesn’t bother me.

        But, the Mini, yikes! Cannot stand those way too big wheelarches and wheels and that pizza platter thing inside. Sigh, when I see that I think, “yuck!”.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Same here – I infinitely prefer the 500 to the Mini. This Gucci version is way over the top though – I want a stripper base model with the TwinAir engine. Small cars are always best at thier most basic.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    FIAT seems to have designed the perfect chick car, whether it poises to take sales away from the VW beetle and Mini Cooper as the car a man is least likely to want to be seen in remains up for debate given FIAT’s spotty dealer presence compared to the other two.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t think either jeoff above or me are women. and i’m about as far from a metrossexual as one can be. So, this car can appeal to some men.

      Go on thinking it’s a chicks car. That way low demand from fear (LOL) will force Fiat to lower the price and the guys and gals that get it will be able to buy this car at lower prices.

      I think that’d work out quite nicely for me.

      But, to be honest, you do have a point. This Gucci version wopuld be the last one on my list as I have zero interest in fashion and the regular version’s interior really does it for me. But it being for the ladies does not sbother me att all.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        It’s small, cute, expensive for the feature set, and eschews interior space/utility for styling that CAN be described as “chic.” It’s not particularly a driver’s car (by TTAC’s own admission) compared to similarly priced and sized fare. Given pricing I’ve seen in the upper teens to lower 20s, I can think of several cars I’d rather drive/own than this cute little fashion accessory (Mazda 3 Skyactiv, Impreza, Fit).

        I stand firm with the assertion of a chick car, because you have to have one hell of a love for how it looks to pass up bigger and more fun to drive cars at its price point.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    The Mini does not need a Gucci Edition; the Mini needs a Burberry’s Edition.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Only in the US would a Burberry edition Mini sell. In the UK it would be ridiculed because a certain social group like to wear lots of Burberry:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav

  • avatar
    Caboose

    The Mini does not need a Gucci Edition; the Mini needs a Burberry’s Edition.

    And if we can get a Breitling Bentley, why can I not get a Rolex Escalade? How about a Stauer VW, from the advert. pages of every men’s magazine?

  • avatar
    Franz K

    FIAT 500 + Gucci ( or any other design house ) = Cynical Marketing at its finest

    Proof positive that FIAT cannot unload the things here or in the EU/UK ( MINI outsells the 500 some ten to one in Italy and thats a FACT )

    Almost worse than the Rolls Royce Edition MINI excepting the MINI is a damn sight better car in each and every way .

    Why ?

    MINI – Bespoke platform
    500 – Based on FIAT’s cheapest piece of junk they offer

    MINI – Great performance , handling ( thru the entire range ) and MPG
    500 – Dead slow performance , mediocre handling as well as MPG . Abarth barely keeps up with a MINI Cooper , never mind an ‘S’ . ( FYI the Abarth family is none too amused by FIAT placing their name on the 500 )

    MINI – Looks great in almost any color you chose , from every angle , and the color palette available is BMW quality and sheen

    500- Looks dull from all angles , is extremely color sensitive and the color palette available is cheap in appearance , not to mention some of the worst reds( dull) , white ( look more grey ) and that bird guano green which makes me wanna …. errrrp .

    MINI – Interior is quality though things have slipped a bit between 2011 and 2012 models
    500 – Interior is pure crap thru out . Cheap materials lousy workmanship etc

    @ Caboose – In the EU/UK MINI has the Rolls Royce special edition which is more than a bit OTT and ridiculous but BMW/Rolls wanted it to compete ( ha ha ) against the Aston Martin cynical Cygnet . So at least MINI has an excuse other than not being able to sell cars like FIAT .

    • 0 avatar

      Proof positive that FIAT cannot unload the things here or in the EU/UK ( MINI outsells the 500 some ten to one in Italy and thats a FACT )

      Really? take a look at Matt Gasnier’s excellent site, bestsellingcars. I checked. In Jan 2012 the 500 sold 7000 units and the Mini 3000. For Feb both were down but the 500 came in 11th place (seems like Fiat is concentrating on new Panda, that’s why sales fell) with 2.6K and Mini in 17th with 1.7K.

      For the full year (2011), the 500 sold 60k which landed it in 4th place in the market. The Mini sold 21.5k, which is 17th place overall. SO where exactly did you see that Mini outsells 500 in Italy? Joke of the day. Maybe Europe who knows…

      The rest of your post is just opinion. So to each his own. We all know you don’t like the 500. That’s fine. But you should really check the FACTS (like you wrote) sometimes.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    ya its a bit ostentatious, but its so small and cute. Look at most ostentatious cars, they are all really large. This looks great, i think, but personally I would skip this one and get the abarth. In the case of the Gucci, those script chrome peices would last a few seconds where i live, showing up on a chain around some guys neck.

    I’m really near my tolerance level of (men) people who use the term “chic car”. Its used as a slur, and its offensive. Women buy cars also, more then men do from what i understand. So get over it.

    I remember the gucci lincoln. what a monster car. The first car i ever fell to sleep in the back of. Probably bigger then my current apartment. Def fancier.

    Ciao!

  • avatar
    obruni

    the Mini/500 arguments remind me of the iPhone/Android arguments.

    completely irreconcilable differences coupled with irrational hatred.

    I happen to like both of them; no the 500 doesn’t handle as well as the Mini, but it is noticeably less expensive. for less the price of a base Mini Cooper one can have a very well equipped 500 (Pop with BOSE sound, alloys, and moonroof)

    Mini reliability hasn’t proven to be that great, and from friends I only hear nightmares in regards to service bills after the the warranties expire. However, the 500 is completely unknown in these aspects, and the dealer network is small.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    The 500 just doesn’t work for me in American-driving context. It is simply too small and too round. Dare I say that it looks like an M&M candy with (in the case of the ‘convertible’) with a bit of the candy shell nibbled off exposing the soft chocolate interior.

    I’m currently living in Dallas, where a 500 on the freeway can be mistaken for a driving light cover which has fallen off a Hummer. I did live in Tokyo for several years however, so I can understand the innate goodness of the 500 as a city car. In that context it would be a great little runabout.

    As for all the designer versions, I think that it’s a smart move by Fiat, and a spin on the ‘express yourself’ thing that Mini did the first few years. In the Mini it was British flag roofs and graphics. There’s nothing different in what Fiat is doing except that they deliberately aim more feminine in their attack. Think the ‘Hello Kitty!’ version released in Europe. Why that car isn’t here already, I can’t imagine as with the 500 it’s all about playing dress-up. For example, there was a 500 at the recent ‘Cars & Coffee’ event here in Dallas. It had various stickers, and fancy wheels, and this graphic on the rear window, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a Ferrari!”

    I kind of liked it.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    My grandfather had one of those Gucci Cadillacs once upon a time. It was gaudy and over-the-top in true Gucci fashion. It was a great, opulent car when new and drew attention aplnety. But unfortunately the mechanicals were just horrifyly bad. A lot of the Gucci accouturements also didn’t fare very well. All the brass bits got tarnished (back then Gucci used brassy signature hardware). It was a special car though.

  • avatar
    MBsam

    What’s with all of these sloppy, biased reviews lately? This person clearly just wanted to like the MINI more.

    The reviews here used to be very well done and entertaining but this is just not very good…

  • avatar
    Slab

    “the second-generation (1980-1985) Cadillac Seville made for the most Gucci worthy platform on the planet”

    Gotta disagree. The landau vinyl roof worked much better on the first generation Seville.

  • avatar
    Joss

    One for the Ritz-Carlton residences… Sorry smelly, ugly ol’ me wouldn’t fool your Gucci in this. I’d stain/soil those fine fabrics.

    Watch the lipstick or nail gloss. A diamond ring might scratch the glass. And that beltline should be lower Sajeev?

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    Gucci’s car history in America runs further back than the Seville. My mother had a Gucci edition of the AMC Sportabout (i.e., Hornet station wagon), circa 1974 or so. It had little intertwined G’s on the headliner, cream colored seats with green and red trim, and lots of Gucci badging. Now THAT was a successful attempt at marketing a sow’s ear to the silk purse crowd. Never before had my mother shopped for an AMC, and even if the company survived much longer she wouldn’t have done so again.


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