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2012 Fiat 500 Sport Review

Pint-Sized City Car

A three-quarter front view of a yellow 2012 Fiat 500 Sport

In short: A quick and sporty three-door hatchback.

The Cinquecento is a legend — and FIAT brought it back in Europe a few years ago to the delight of an array of drivers of all ages. We loved the old FIAT 500 for its utility in the city and parking advantages, and now the USA can try it in turn. We had a bunch of fun in our giallo-colored sports coupe and turned as many heads as if we had been in one of its rosso cousins in the Ferrari family. You could take this little car across country but its mission is best suited as a city dweller.

The FIAT 500 Sport runs on the same peppy yet practical 1.4-liter MultiAir inline-4 as the base model 500, with the addition of driver-focused features like a sport-tuned suspension, modified springs, shock tuning and enhanced steering calibration for a firmer ride and more responsive handling. The EPA gives you a 30 MPG rating in the city, which might not be achieved if you engage the sport button as you try to keep pace with the Ferraris. However, you'll get a lot of practicality and ease of driving, and you'll also find it quite comfortable on the freeway. There is a decent amount of headroom in the front, but don't plan on using this new-age Cinquecento as a limousine for the high school basketball team — though it might put a smile on their younger siblings. We give the car a high rating and feel that it is well-built.

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2012 FIAT 500
2012 FIAT 500 Cabrio
Watch a video of the 2012 FIAT 500

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty; 4-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty; 4-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance

Base Price: $17,500 / As Tested: $18,550

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel drive, 4-passenger, 3-door hatchback

Engine: 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 101 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 98 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual

Curb weight: 1,907 lbs
Wheelbase: 90.6 in
Length/Width/Height: 139.8/64/58.6 in
Turning circle: 30.2 ft

Brakes: disc in front, drum in rear; ABS
independent MacPherson system in front, interconnected wheels with torsion axle in rear
Traction: electronic stability control with traction control

0-62 mph: 9.5 seconds
Top Speed: 115 mph

EPA City: 30 mpg
EPA Highway: 38 mpg

Safety: driver and front passenger multi-stage airbags; driver knee airbag; full-length side-curtain airbags; seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax airbags

Likes: compact for city use; cuteness; sporty

Dislikes: cramped back seat

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Photography: AlphaMedia

PNW060911 (Updated: 10/14/11 NW)