Can a car priced between $15,500 and $17,500 be of much interest to the typical luxury buyer?
It can if it's Italian and will soon be offered as a convertible and electric vehicle.
The new car is the Fiat 500, and it will start showing up in Fiat "Studios" any day now, starting in Los Angeles, and extending to 130 dealerships by the end of the year. Fiat USA's website
has a full list of dealer locations.
The 500, of course, is the U.S. version of the Fiat Cinquecento that is offered today in Europe. The car seats four, has a 1.4 liter multi-air engine and comes offered in ten exterior colors and ten interiors. If you want to have a totally unique Fiat 500 in your neighborhood even if you aren't the only one, then it will be more than possible.
The entry-level car, the 500 "Pop," comes with a manual transmission, as does the mid-level version, the 500 "Sport." if you must have the automatic transmission, then you'll have to go for the top of the line "Lounge" edition.
The automatic was perfectly adequate during Luxist's drive of the car around San Diego, CA. But the manual will provide more driving enjoyment for those who like and can drive with a clutch and shifter.
The 500's EPA ratings are 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on highway. That's for the manual.
Cars equipped with the six-speed self-shifter will only achieve 27/34 mpg.
Fiat is making its re-entry to the U.S. after a 27 year hiatus. The Italian automaker in 2009 took control of U.S. automaker Chrysler
as part of the company's bailout from the U.S. government and subsequent bankruptcy reorganization. Fiat is leveraging the Chrysler dealer network to re-introduce Fiat to American consumers, though the Fiat studios are, in many cases, in separate buildings from the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep lineups.