The Fiat 500 is the first car to be sold under the Fiat brand in North America since the Italian manufacturer vacated these shores back in 1983. There’s a lot riding on the diminutive, retro-modern commuter car, which can only count on the cute factor for initial sales. If the Fiat 500 isn’t equal to or better than competitors from Ford, Mini, Honda and others, it won’t generate the expected sales results, which could impact Fiat’s future product mix in the United States. In other words, Fiat has a lot riding on the success of the 500.
One of the reasons for buying a sub-compact is fuel economy, and the EPA just rated the Fiat 500 at 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined when equipped with a manual gearbox. Automatic transmission 500s get a rating of 27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. That’s good, but certainly not great: both the Mini Cooper and the Honda Fit get a combined fuel economy rating of 31 mpg, while the Ford Fiesta is rated at 33 mpg. Even Hyundai’s new Elantra, which has enough interior room to classify it as a midsize car, gets a combined fuel economy of 33 mpg.
Fuel economy alone isn’t a reason to buy a car, and none of the competitors have the “European chic” factor going for them like the Fiat 500 does. I haven’t driven one yet, but I suspect the 500 will have a distinct personality to accompany its looks, and that will be enough to move inventory.
Source: Left Lane News