2012 FIAT 500

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2012 Fiat 500C — Flash Drive

By Staff of MSN Autos

The Fiat 500C draws a lot of attention. It's cute and practically universally liked. I even got a thumbs-up from a helmeted rider on a very fast motorcycle. But after driving it for a few days I'm convinced that the affection is misplaced. The Fiat is cramped inside, the trunk opening is small and the trunk latch punched a hole in the first bag I tried to fit inside. The convertible top has no windbreaker, so booming pressure waves force you to keep the windows open whenever the top is down. The radio doesn't even turn off when the key is removed and you lock the car. It is fun to drive, though. The Fiat's natural competitor, the MINI, is far more spacious, gets better fuel economy and is even more fun to drive. I think the MINI is worth its small price premium. – Paul Hagger

Fiat returns to the North American market with the Fiat 500, a retro-inspired compact popular in Europe. Small and cute, the 500C attracts a lot of attention, particularly our test car, with its power-folding cloth top, olive green paint and leather interior. The 500 doesn't have a lot of power, but it's a small car and there's enough power to make it fun to drive. The steering and suspension are responsive, and it definitely has the feel of a European car. The driver's seat height adjustment and the steering-wheel adjustment don't feel up to the same level as competitors in this price range. While the 500 starts at just over $15,000, our 500C Lounge test car tipped the scales at over $25,000. It will be interesting to see if the 500 holds its appeal once the novelty of being among the first to own a new Fiat has worn off. – Mike Meredith

All I could think when I first saw the Fiat 500C was, "how cute." Seven inches shorter than a MINI, it's one tiny car. Surprisingly, however, there is an almost-usable back seat, and a trunk that can hold a leaf blower, plus five bags of groceries. The convertible top is more like a large sunroof that slides back with a push of a button. I loved the open top, but it requires a second push of the button to fully open it up. This isn't a big issue, except that I didn't know this, and with the top open to its first position the buffeting at even slow speeds is intolerable. The 500 has only 101 horsepower, but it feels peppy while delivering good fuel economy — I averaged over 30 mpg in mostly city driving. The ride is much smoother than expected for a car this size. At $22,000, the 500C seems a bit pricey for such a small car, but it is a minicar I could easily live with. – Perry Stern

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BB01 - 7/31/2014 11:05:28 PM