US-Market Fiat 500 Rated At 38/30 MPG With Manual, 34/27 With Auto

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
us market fiat 500 rated at 38 30 mpg with manual 34 27 with auto

The Fiat 500 faces an interesting challenge in the US Market. Yes, it offers the fashion-nugget flair of a MINI Cooper at a lower price… but it’s also smaller, less powerful and not all that much more efficient. Automotive News [sub] reports that the new 500, which offers 101 HP from its 1.4 MultiAir engine, will be rated at 38 MPG Highway/30 MPG City with a manual transmission, and 34 MPG Highway/27 MPG City with an automatic. Compared to a 120 HP MINI Cooper, the manual 500 enjoys a 1 MPG advantage on both city and highway ratings, but with the popular automatic transmission, it actually gets worse mileage than the 36/28 MPG slushbox Cooper. Why the big discrepancy in the 500’s manual-versus-autobox efficiency? Probably because the European-spec 500 doesn’t offer an automatic, which was added to the vehicle (along with retuned suspension and more sound deadening material) just for the US market.

So, while the 500 starts some $5k lower than the MINI, and it’s not all that much smaller on the inside (front legroom is down about an inch compared to the MINI, while rear headroom is short by some 2.5 inches… but the 500 wins on other measures), the efficiency with an autobox leaves quite a bit to be desired… especially for a 100 HP, 98 lb-ft car. And with the Fiesta offering a less flashy but larger 40 MPG option (with a self-swapping gearbox) at a similar price point, the 500 has some serious charming to do.

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  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jan 28, 2011

    Its staring us all in the face - the 500's automatic needs work. How many decades back is that? You know, Europa not being able to bring in a decent automatic that can slush it on our turf..?

  • Jacob Jacob on Jan 29, 2011

    This car is going to die a fast death on the US market. Clearly, it has no MPG advantage over much bigger cars. What else is going to justify its right to exist? Price? If Fiat ready to sell reasonably spec'ed model for $15,000?

    • See 1 previous
    • Roundel Roundel on Jan 29, 2011

      Last I checked... not everybody bases car buying decisions as a Corolla driving accountant would. This thing oozes quality and style over say something like a Yaris, or an Aveo. Both boring cheap plasticky cars.

  • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Jan 29, 2011

    As to space and room: somebody up there said that th Mini was cavernous compared to the Cincuecento. Really? I beag to differ. In one important aspect, headroom (at least up front cause I haven'tt saat in back in neither car) is much better in Fiat. Yes it's narrower, but not by much. Spacewise, Italians are always a master of packaging. Yes it looks smaller on the outside, but inside it's just as good as mini (plus it doesn't have the faulty ergonomics of instrument placement like mini). At least in my opinion, if you want to race, go with Mini (specially Cooper S), or wait for 500 Abarth SS. If you want to cruise go with Fiat.

    • Roundel Roundel on Jan 29, 2011

      I agree, the mini feel claustrophobic in comparison, I'm tall and I like a lot of headroom, and there is none of it in the mini. It was one of many reasons why I chose a smart over the mini (besides price, features...etc)

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 29, 2011

    I guess I'm one of the few who has been in the back seat of a 500. I'm 6'1", 220 lbs. and 62 years old. I had little problem getting in (my 12 year old grandson had no problem at all) and it was surprisingly comfortable. Had I just gotten out of a panther taxi, my opinion might have been different, but the point is, there's more room than expected. The short trip, with about five miles at 65 on the freeway, was tolerable, but for long trips, my personal preference is an aisle seat in a Greyhound charter, with the refrigerator and bathroom in back. The driver of the 500 had a manual and really had to thrash the engine to get anywhere, so an automatic seems foolhardy. They might be better off with the Euro semi-auto, but the big problem is what the "Tooltime" guy kept saying: it needs More Power. I've seen custom coachbuilders stretch out VW bugs, but they're not going to touch the 500 until it has a stronger drivetrain. Too bad, I'd like to see a 4-door stretched 500. For now, don't expect a 500 driver to hear much "fix it again Tony" talk. Since it'll be sold next to Chrysler dealers, the most hurtful thing a 500 driver will hear is "That thing got a hemi in it?"