Alfa Romeo has come and gone and come again to the U.S. market, but it has held a special place in the hearts of performance-oriented drivers in Europe consistently for 100+ years.
Now Alfa is back at it with the 4C in the United States, sold through its Fiat dealerships. Finally, Alfa has a sexy sports coupe to rekindle some of the excitement the brand carried here in the 1950s and ’60s.
Fiat 500 Easy: low price, low power, lower expectations
Several years have passed since I last drove a Fiat 500, the mini-car Fiat re-launched its brand with in the U.S. market for 2012.
The 500 hasn’t grown any, nor changed much, which depending on your point of view may be good, or a bit sad. The 500’s cuteness level remains high. It still looks like a slightly more modern version of the original rear-engine 1957 model it’s designed to resemble. Continue reading 2016 Fiat 500 Easy→
Fiat 500X cute, but more useful than smaller cousins
Small crossovers are growing in popularity and car makers are falling all over themselves to deliver a robust selection of these little SUV-hatchback-wagons.
In essence they are mix of those three categories, offering more cargo room, AWD or 4-wheel-drive capability and hatches for easy cargo carrying and better looks.
Fiat joins the parade with its 500X using cute styling from its tiny Fiat 500, raising the vehicle some and stretching its wheelbase, just not quite as much as its 500L (as in longer wheelbase), and offering AWD in its various trim levels.
I drove an orange (yes, orange) Fiat 500X Trekking right up through our first snow this winter. The Trekking is up two levels from the base Pop model and starts at $23,200, so is value priced. This one was front-wheel-drive, but as with the other 500X models, comes with Dynamic Control Selector that allows you to engage a traction system, or go sporty when pavement is dry.
At this price point, DCS is a rare treat and indeed, using Sport mode allowed the Fiat’s 2.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder engine to kick up its heels a bit. The engine makes 180 horsepower with 175 ft.-lbs. of torque, so has plenty of energy to get the slightly less than 3,000-lb. car moving. But Sport mode lets the somewhat unrefined feeling 9-speed automatic transmission shift more quickly, giving the car more kick from a standing start. It also firms the steering for a sportier feel. Continue reading 2016 Fiat 500X Trekking FWD→
Fiat goes long with 500L (get it?) to connect with more buyers
Credit Fiat for quickly deducing that its cute, but diminutive, 500 runabout simply won’t do for many U.S. families. The Italian automaker that owns Chrysler needed something that would cast a wider net when trying to land more customers on our shores.
Voila! The 500L!
This is a small crossover or wagon much along the lines of MINI’s Clubman. That’s to say it’s boxy and big enough to hold four adults and some groceries under the hatch. It remains cute, like the MINI is cute, but no one will mistake it for the much smaller Fiat 500 that its name implies it descends from.
But this is a different beast in that at 167.1 inches the 500L is nearly two feet longer, plus a little wider and taller, than the tiny 500. The 500L rides on a much larger 102.8-inch wheelbase, a little shorter than a Subaru Forester, for example, and nearly a foot longer than Fiat’s 500. The L is no featherweight either, at 3,203 lbs. it’s about 900 lbs. heavier than its smaller sibling.
I parked the 500L next to a standard MINI in a fast food parking lot and was amazed at how much larger the Fiat looked.
What all this size means is that the 500L rides well, but remains a good handler, like its smaller model, the 500. The suspension does a surprisingly good job of soaking up our roads’ numerous imperfections. Some larger crossovers and small utes don’t feel this well controlled. As with the 500 model, this one’s ride quality surprises. Continue reading 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge→
Cute and powerful, but overpriced and a rough rider
A co-worker put it perfectly after seeing my black and white Fiat 500 Abarth, it’s the Beanie Baby of cars – Cute with a capital C.
I like small cars, appreciate their efficiency, their fun factor and generally their lower cost. The Fiat 500 is cute, almost to a fault. At its base Pop trim level it’s a fun sub-compact that starts at an extremely attractive $15,500.
The Abarth (Fiat tells us that’s pronounced AH-bar) is its racy version. Think of its 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine as a Mini-Hemi, seeing as how Fiat and Chrysler are now linked up. Continue reading 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth→