2013’s The Good 12 – Fiat 500 Turbo – $15,000-$20,000
FIAT 500 TURBO
Remember all the times you questioned whether 101 horsepower was enough in a modern automobile? Fiat heard your concerns.
The 135-horsepower 500T is no Abarth. This wasn’t the car Tracy Chapman was singing about. But it’s plenty swift. Horsepower is, after all, up 34% in a car which weighs just 5% more. It is indeed the 500T’s weight, the wonderful lack of weight, which makes it such a worthwhile drive.
Tipping the scales at just 2477 pounds, the Fiat 500 Turbo is spectacularly maneuverable and eminently chuckable. Rather fortunately, the 500’s ride never deteriorates the way you’d expect from a car with less than eight feet of wheelbase.
Fiat did more to this 500 than just up the underhood ante. There’s a subtle bodykit, upgraded brakes, and the 500 Sport’s suspension.
Compared with more conventional cars like the best-selling Honda Civic, Good 12-winning Kia Rio, and pricier Volkswagen Golf, the 500 is a bit of an oddball. Yet its flair is distinctly Italian. In North America, unless you can afford a Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini, the 500 is the only way to find that seductive flair.
Engine: 135 horsepower; 150 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 1.4L four-cylinder
Base USD/CAD Price: $19,500 / $18,495
City Fuel Economy: 28 miles per gallon
It’s Not Perfect: There are rear seats in the 500T, but they’re difficult for an adult to access and even more difficult for an adult to tolerate for more than a moment. Some interior parts don’t measure up to the high quality of other parts. Too cute can also be too much of a bad thing. And though clearly not a guzzler, fuel economy isn’t the 500’s strong suit.
Sales Stats: There was one rival in view when Fiat returned to North America. Fiat’s 500 is easily outselling the whole Mini brand in Canada, and in the U.S., the 500 is right in line with equivalent Minis. The turbocharged mid-range car will only generate greater Cinquecento volume.
Viable Alternatives: The Mini Cooper springs to mind.