Fiat announced its return to the North American market at the Los Angeles international Auto Show. Leading the return is the new Fiat 500, widely regarded as one of the best small cars in the world.
"The Fiat 500 has always been the right car at the right time," says Laura Soave, manager of the Fiat brand in North America. "The Fiat 500 satisfies the new generations of Americans who want a captivating, customized, ecologically sustainable and technologically advanced vehicle. Like its historic predecessor, the new Fiat 500 redefines the concept of transportation and gives a new sense to expression and individual opportunities.
Produced in Mexico, with a starting price of $15,500, the four-seater ensures a driving experience and sensations that are unparalleled owing to its ideal size for the city and new 1.4 liter MultiAir engine, innovative Blue&Me hands-free communication system and seven airbags supplied as standard. This package is further perfected with high-quality characteristics calibrated for the US market, including a brand-new six-speed automatic transmission.
According to a spokesman, some specification changes have been made to US cars, including suspension and steering, but they claim it has made the 500 "even better."
The Fiat 500 range in the United States offers three trim levels (Pop, Sport and Lounge), one engine type (100hp 1.4 MultiAir), 14 exterior colors, 14 color combinations and materials for the seats, two interiors (black or ivory) and a complete line of exclusive accessories made by Chrysler's Mopar division to customize the car, including decal packages, accessories for interior and exterior as well as merchandising in original Fiat style. It will be available at local dealers since the Fiat will be distributed through the Chrysler network.
One of the most interesting contents is Blue&Me Tom-Tom, the multifunctional portable navigation system. Among other things, the Fiat 500 customer can make use of the free eco:Drive software application that collects journey data through the Blue&Me interface and analyses it to give the user personalized tips to cut travel costs and the environmental impact of driving style.
The US specification Fiat 500 offers a standard total warranty of four years/50,000 miles and four years of unlimited roadside assistance, in addition to a three-year/36,000-mile maintenance plan with parts subject to wear and vehicle downtime reimbursed.
Some other major adaptations for Fiat 500s sold in the USA are: body structure redesigned to increase crash resistance; suspension modified for the US market;more than 20 changes to the body to reduce noise, vibrations and harshness (NVH); new anti-lock braking system (ABS) with redesigned front brake calipers; fuel tank increased to 10.5 gallons; heating and cooling system redesigned for climate extremes;
Front seats redesigned with a new armrest and cushions to improve comfort over long distances;
New front seats with Easy Entry system; new steering wheel controls and steering calibration optimized to increase stability at highway speeds; new BOSE Energy Efficient Series audio system with six speakers and subwoofer.
Adapted to the needs of American customers, the new four cylinder in- line 1.4-liter engine boasting innovative MultiAir technology developed and patented by Fiat Powertrain Technologies that assures excellent performance in terms of power, fuel consumption, quality and precision.
MultiAir technology reduces fuel consumption and increases power efficiency by 10%, and at the same time guarantees 10% less CO2 emissions compared to similar engines that do not have this system.
The engine delivers 101hp at 6500rpm and torque of 98 lb-ft at 4000rpm.
The 1.4 MultiAir can be combined with a choice of two transmissions for the North American market. The new six-speed automatic ensures fluid gear shifts and considerable savings in fuel costs. For a more exciting driving style, the Auto Stick function allows the gears to be shifted manually. When selecting the Sport mode by pressing a button on the instrument panel, the gear shift program and steering response are automatically re-calibrated to achieve even sportier driving dynamics.
The second gearbox - a five-speed manual ? is fitted with new transmission ratios for the American market, offering lower fuel consumption and increased acceleration. This transmission has a new self-adjusting hydraulic clutch that makes it possible to exert the same force on the pedal for the entire life of the clutch, thus guaranteeing virtually maintenance-free operation. When the Sport mode is selected with the manual gearbox, the throttle and steering response is re-calibrated to achieve sportier driving dynamics as well.