2011 Fiat 500 Sport: First Look

2011 Fiat 500
As the rebirth of Fiat in North America nears with the introduction of the Fiat 500, we’re getting more information about how the subcompact hatch will be equipped and marketed when it goes on sale in the U.S. later this year.

The Fiat 500 will be available in Sport, Pop and Lounge trims, each with unique exterior cues and different levels of interior amenities. Fiat officials didn’t state in which order of expense these trim names go, but in other countries where the Fiat 500 is sold the Pop is typically most affordable and the Lounge is most expensive. A Fiat 500C (Cabrio) model will become available in spring 2011.

Fiat provided photos of the U.S. spec Sport trim, which features red-painted brake calipers, a chrome exhaust tip, 16-inch aluminum wheels, lowed sills and a larger front air dam. No word if we’re seeing standard features on the Fiat 500 Sport or not. There will also be an available panoramic sunroof.

Fiat has made some minor aesthetic changes to the front and rear of the U.S. model. Fiat has already taken reservations for a special edition Fiat 500 Prima Edizione for U.S. Fiat enthusiasts. The model features a manual transmission, unique badging and three exclusive colors. There are no reservation spots left, according to Fiat’s U.S. retail site .

The 500 will mark the debut of Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder with MultiAir technology. MultiAir is a more sophisticated version of the variable intake valve timing and lift that has spread around the industry in the past 10 years. Unlike conventional valvetrains, which control all the valves in unison, MultiAir can adjust separate valve positions individually over a broad range using electronically controlled hydraulic valve lifters. It’s similar to BMW’s Valvetronic, which uses a small electric motor at each cylinder to achieve similar ends. Both systems do away with a conventional throttle valve in the air intake stream. The claimed advantages are lower emissions, higher efficiency and higher power compared with conventional engines. According to Fiat, MultiAir improves fuel economy and power delivery by up to 10 percent when compared to similar engines.

No word on specific horsepower ratings, but according to Chrysler’s official powertrain strategy, the 1.4-liter four-cylinder is rated at 100 horsepower and 95 pounds-feet of torque, and a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with MultiAir gets 170 hp and 170 pounds-feet of torque.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest developments, such as pricing and power specs, when Fiat makes them available.

Senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder contributed to this report.

By Colin Bird | September 15, 2010 | Comments (24)
Tags: Fiat 500

Comments 

65Chrysler300

Ugly. I don't want this thing anywhere near Chrysler dealers. Is it even reliable?

DodgeFan

I think it will sell well for a couple years. Then we will see if it dies off like all small cars.

Paul

Once these get smashed up on the roads across America,and people pay the ultimate price.....they will stay away from them in droves. Watch the video "Mechanized Death",and you will see the utterly destroyed Autobianchi Bianchina (FIAT) and its former operator,and these little cars will give you the chills.

M

Looks like a VW new Beetle with a bad bumper.

I honestly cannot see this car doing well in the U.S. It resembles a smart car which is not a good thing. The front grille and head lamps resemble beady little eyes. I think Americans are partial to bigger everything; bigger portions of food, bigger cars etc. A small car would need to offer something special, for example, the Civic is known for being super reliable, the Smart Car saves money on gas. What does the Fiat do? It certainly doesn't bring looks to the table.

Tony

Definitely, not much sales will be done on this one. I can't see how small, expensive and unreliable car can sell well in America

Jim

So far the first 500 Prima Edizione's have all been reserved and Fiat looks to sell 50,000 of these in the US the first year. They expect to add Alfa Romeo in 2012. This re-entry into the market so far has generated a LOT of buzz and press, and should be successful.

The cars will sell great in urban areas, which of course is exactly where Fiat is targetting their initial 165-200 dealerships.

The cars are no worse in crash tetsing than Mini's, VW beetles, Yaris, Kia's, Toyota Fits' Smart cars Mazda 2's or a half dozen other smaller vehicles.

Its clear Fiat still has some American bias to overcome, but these little cars got Top Gear's award for Car of the Year and that's pretty high praise.

cody

my girlfriend and i intend to test drive one of these when they become available in our area. we have a prius for long road trips, but would like something smaller and cheaper for driving around the city. i know the prius gets great city mileage, but it was kind of expensive and we'd like something cheaper for driving around town. besides, i tend to catch myself driving like a jerk trying to eck out extra mileage....not good.

i seem to remember seeing that this would achieve combined fuel economy of around 40mpg, which should be perfect for what we're looking for.

jstant01

I think its ugly as hell and Fiats are known for being unreliable, or at least, that's what I seem to read all over the place in the automotive press. Of course, I thought the PT Cruiser looked like a hearse, and it was unreliable as hell and got terrible gas mileage and Chrysler couldn't keep them in stock until they neglected it to the point where it was a retro-dinosaur. So who knows - maybe it will be their next PT Cruiser. For Chrysler's sake, let's hope they don't let it languish if it is.

Uk Diesel Driver

@Paul: It gets a 5-star (maximum) rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests. Small cars do not mean unsafe. Big cars do not necessarily mean safe. Welcome in the 21st century...

DB9

Just a quote for all you closed-minded, ignorant, big-car fanatics out there:

"The modern version of Fiat 500 was launched on July 4, 2007, and since its introduction, it sold more than 500,000 units in more than 80 countries around the world. It has also won 40 international awards, including being named the 2008 European Car of the Year and 2009 World Car Design of the Year. Also, the Fiat MultiAir technology was recognized as the "single most innovative engine technology" of 2010 by the International Engine of the Year Awards panel.

For the last three years, Fiat was the lowest CO2 producer among Europe's best-selling automotive brands, and the Fiat 1.4-liter MultiAirTM turbo engine was named "Best New Engine of the Year" in 2010"

Zack

This might be a tinny crappy Euro car that we don't want in the US, but at least it's a Sport edition!

Eurothinker

Never buy anything that has Magneti Marelli in the engine...

Ok, bad joke (but my friend in the Alfa Romeo club would agree).

If they don't overprice it like they did with the Smart, they may have a chance, but if Fiat is smart they will develop their own cars, instead of trying to import euro cars,,, it reminds me of Peugeot USA in the 80's.

Spektor

Don't these hillbillies ever get out of their own garages? The Mini is extremely popular in big cities, as is the Honda Fit and other small cars. The new FIAT will be as safe, if not more than these cars, and at least offer some fun Italian style to drivers. The FIAT will get a minimum of 40 MPG which is also a big plus. FIAT offered reservations on the first 500 collectors editions. They sold out in a few hours. This car will be a more affordable and more modern competitor to the Mini. And at least it will get shoppers into Chrysler dealers to look around.

FIAT has a *huge* image problem in the US after foisting upon us vehicles that couldn't stay fixed.

Remember the acronyms?
Fix It Again Tony &
Failure In Automotive Technology

FIAT tried and failed on at least TWO further occasions trying to get US customers to buy their cars.
Remember the Bertone X/19?
How about the Yugo?
The Bertone was just a re-badged Fiat, the Yugo was a bad copy of a Fiat

Vic

I don't know how many of you get to Italy, but the country is sprinkled with FIAT products.
It's been that way since post WW2.
Believe me, not too many Ferrari or Massarattis, they get exported.
The FIATs all run and run well. The 500 has been an "In Croud Car" since I can recall, driven by the same young hip person who would be a Mini buyer.

I am amazed at the ignorant comments posted here.

Kimberly

We are excited about checking out the new Fiat 500. We have Vespa and Lambretta scooters, so small vehicles are right up our alley. I hate the typical "bigger is better" attitude that a lot of other American people have. I hope the Mini dealers are sweating. They are adorable, and as with most Italian designs they are not only functional, but a work of art, as well!

jeff

I just returned from a two week vacation where I drove a new Fiat 500 throughout the Dolomite mountain area in northern Italy. The car was fun to drive and much better than any other small car I have ever drive. It handled steep twisty mountain roads with ease. Much more power than I expected. With 2 people and luggage even steep upgrades were no problem in third or fourth gear (it had a 5 speed manual). I would buy the US version if it's going to be the same as the European. If only US drivers were as alert and focused on driving (instead of texting/eating burgers/etc.) as drivers in Italy, maybe there wouldn't be such a fear of driving small cars here.

Tom

I owned a Fiat in the 70's. My 1974 124 was comfortable, roomy and a blast to drive. It never had any mechanical problems but like all cars form that era, it suffered a slow death due to rust. I can't wait for the 500 to arrive so I can own and drive another Fiat.

Zack

The 124 was the best car Fiat ever made. Unfortunately it couldn't compete with cars like the Toyota Corona, which was quieter had more power, rode better and was built like a tank. The Datsun 510 was a better performer, and with independent rear suspension was more fun than the Fiat, though it rusted just as fast. We'll see how the new Fiats compete.

Kenny

Sad times are these when anyone can go around saying nea to old women! I’ve live abroad for a few years and have had a chance to drive the newer FIATs (Punto etc.) They are nice cars and I’ve wished for some time that we could by decent little city cars like these to drive around.

I’ve already plopped my $500 down on a 500 and can’t wait to get it. Those still stuck on the 80s FIAT reliability are frankly retarded. I guess y’all forgot about the ‘great’ American cars made about the same time! How about the Gremlin, Matador, Granada, Fairmont, Pacer, Monaco, and the list goes on! Even the Early Toyotas and Hondas weren’t that much to write home about. I had a Corona and it was one of the worst cars I’ve ever owned. All cars made now are much better than they used to be and FIAT is no exception. This car has won a TON of awards and gets great reviews by everyone who drives it. I even had a chance to ride in the new Abarth version (135 HP) while in France and it was a total kick in the shorts (the US version will have 170 HP!). I plan on getting one of those as well! They’ll both look great next to my 1963 FIAT 500 (now there’s a clown car!)!

newcarbuyer

This looks awesome! Sign me up immediately! 170hp in that little thing, are you kidding me! Can't wait!!

Matt

Aside from maybe Chinese cars now-a-days, quality and reliability is not much of an issue anymore for any car company. And if there is a problem, they usually issue a recall to fix the problem. Everyone has a story about a car they owned that was a heap and would break down constantly. I bet if you surveyed everyone, you'd get stories about cars made from all over the world. Euro cars that weren't luxury cars got a bad rap in the U.S. probably because it was a niche vehicle and had a small following, which meant fewer mechanics, parts, dealers, etc. Let's face it. American and Japanese cars are ugly, and now the Euro luxury car makers (and Volkswagen) are turning Japanese in their styling. We need something like the Fiat 500 to shake things up a bit and show the boring people in the U.S. that there are cars out there with a bit of style. I would never go anywhere near a Chrysler product, however, I can't wait for my Fiat.

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