Category: Fiat

By on September 3, 2019

fiat cabrio abarth 500

The model that helped relaunch a long-departed brand — a brand which subsequently failed to clear the tower — is effectively dead in North America. Fiat Chrysler has taken the retro-themed, pint-sized Fiat 500 off life support, removing it from the brand’s North American offerings for 2020.

The newly turbocharged 500, its beefier Abarth brother, and the eco-warrior 500e electric, were victims of America’s unrelenting desire for large, spacious automobiles. The illness took hold almost as soon as the 500 arrived. Read More >

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth cover

Fiat, the ancient automotive brand found at the top of very few American shopping lists, finds itself in the midst of a transformation. On its European home turf, emissions rules have grown ever more strict; meanwhile, many buyers are gravitating towards the type of vehicles offered by corporate sibling Jeep, and Fiat Chrysler would prefer they purchase the seven-slot brand. That leaves Fiat with a mandate to think small.

As details emerge from the latest meeting of Fiat brass, it looks like the brand’s future holds efficiency but precious little flash. Read More >

By on May 28, 2019

1979 Fiat 124 Sport Spider in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBack in the early 1980s, when I began my junkyard-crawling career in the East Bay, I would find examples of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider on a depressingly regular basis. I still find them today, in about the same quantities; the only difference is that now they’re 40 years old instead of six years old.

Here’s the latest: a black ’79 without a speck of corrosion, spotted in my old East Oakland junkyard stomping grounds (though at a yard that didn’t exist in 1982). Read More >

By on April 16, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride wears a lot of different badges. The most important ones are Fiat, Ritmo, and Abarth. Come and check out the sportiest version of the final evolution of Fiat’s replacement for the long-lived 128.

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By on February 12, 2019

A dated product lineup, questionable fuel economy across the board, a general need for some reworking. These are all issues with Fiat Chrysler’s offerings in North America. Today we’ll try and come up with some solutions.

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By on December 26, 2018

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth cover

Anyone else fondly recall Sport Compact Car magazine? For over two decades, that dead-tree, updated-monthly blog brought the latest in import performance trends to newsstands and mailboxes. I know that I waited for my copy impatiently, just knowing that this month would be the one where I found the perfect stuff with which I could poorly modify my ancient Accord.

Each issue brought forth little cars with tons of character, but after a while a theme was established — big wheels, big exhaust tips, and a lowered suspension with little compliance became the standard. With the dying of that great magazine, and the de-evolution of the Fast and Furious franchise away from accessible cars, the tuner culture seems to have drifted away from mainstream consciousness.

There aren’t many new truly compact cars that invite this sort of tuning, let alone those that come so equipped from the factory. The 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth is a throwback to those days — days where a loud exhaust and a booming stereo meant fun on Saturday night.

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By on November 27, 2018

Image: FCA

During Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s final days, he said his company would begin prioritizing Jeep production in Europe. This of course comes at the expense of the Fiat brand, which lost a sizable hunk of the European market after 2009 and appears to be outright failing in the United States.

While the brand gained back some of that lost ground east of the Atlantic over the past two years, Fiat’s Jeep stablemate took off like a rocket after 2013 — effectively tripling its share of the European market. Eager to cater to the ever-changing tastes of consumers, FCA is going to stick with Jeep and make some money. As a byproduct, the company thinks it may be able to revitalize Italy’s manufacturing industry, bolster overall volume, and get some laid-off employees back onto the factory floor.

However, it’s not just Jeep that’s getting special treatment. FCA intends to do the same for Alfa Romeo and Maserati, as their products boast higher margins than anything Fiat builds. Read More >

By on November 27, 2018

Having already revealed the updated European version, Fiat is unveiling North America’s take on the facelifted 500X. While the subcompact crossover’s official LA Auto Show debut isn’t for another day or so, FCA decided not to sit on it. Likely a wise move, as the model will assuredly be overshadowed by higher profile vehicles appearing later this week.

As with its European counterpart, the North American changes are barely noticeable. While Fiat says the exterior has been updated, with new fascias incorporating LED running lights, the tweaks aren’t immediately apparent to onlookers. In fact, most are unlikely to notice any significant changes to the model before climbing into the driver’s seat or spending some time with a corporate dossier outlining all the alterations.

Fortunately, we can give you the abridged version — a list that includes standard all-wheel drive and a new engine.  Read More >

By on November 16, 2018

There are those vehicles that are truly great. You love to look at them, to drive them (or dream of so doing), to buy them.

Then there are the worst. The stinkers. The overpriced, the ugly, the awful-to-drive, the cars and trucks that just don’t make sense.

Read More >

By on November 14, 2018

Image: FCA

Lime, the company that sent electric scooters driven by traffic-unaware short-term renters to every corner of the continent, has a new mobility plan. While e-scooters and bikes are great for travelling short distances in the city (a fact many pedestrians and motorists would disagree with), sometimes you need to go up hills, or perhaps travel further — and with more people — than a two-wheeled conveyance would allow.

What to do? Call on an automotive brand that’s desperate for sales, that’s what. Oh, and those aren’t Fiat 500s. They’re LimePods.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2018

Image: FCA

Some police operations are only made possible by the inclusion of vehicles with 164 horsepower, a (debatably) has-been reggae/pop singer, and the guy from Dune.

The latest marketing coup, if it can be called that, on Fiat Chrysler’s plate involves these three elements, combined with an ’80s-themed, Crockett & Tubbs-like storyline and a hysterical typo that’s still on the automaker’s media site. Read More >

By on October 10, 2018

The looks of an old Volkswagen Jetta, the reliability of an old Italian car, and the inconvenience of right-hand drive. All of your dreams can come true in today’s Rare Ride — a Fiat Tempra. It made its way from 1990s Italy to England, then stormed up the banks of Rhode Island.

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By on August 6, 2018

Image: FCA

If the Fiat brand was a human being, it was last spotted in the parking lot of a local bank. Police are now scouring the woods.

Launched with adequate, if not great, fanfare as a newly Italianized Chrysler powered out of the recession, the Fiat brand failed to put down roots in the American marketplace, with the automaker’s next five-year plan showing it as an afterthought with an uncertain future. Sure, Italy gets a wagon version of the little 500 and greener power options, but in North America, the brand went over with buyers like Catwoman or Heaven’s Gate did with movie audiences. Dealers aren’t exactly thrilled with having the Fiat name anywhere their Jeep or Ram banner.

As bad as the brand’s continued non-performance in America is, buyers north of the border have already moved on. Read More >

By on August 1, 2018

You can go into a Fiat showroom today and buy a brand new Fiat 124, undoubtedly delighting a dealer who’s desperate to move some reworked Miatas. It wasn’t always this way, though. The 124 name was originally applied to a lineup of Fiat-developed vehicles, like today’s Sport Coupe from 1974.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2018

marchionne, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Several news agencies are reporting that Sergio Marchionne, the colorful chief executive who returned Fiat, and then a combined Fiat Chrysler, to profitability, might not end the day as CEO.

Marchionne, who took the helm of Fiat in 2004, was due to retire next April, and recently unveiled the automaker’s upcoming five-year product plan. Two sources told Reuters that Marchionne suffered “massive” complications from a recent shoulder surgery. According to those sources, the boards of Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, and CNH Industrial are all meeting Saturday to name a successor. Read More >

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