By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
The slick and sassy 500 anchored Fiat's 2012 return to the U.S. market, where it's become Chrysler's new small-car brand. It's easy to see the 2013 Fiat 500 as an Italian Mini Cooper: They're both small cars with big personalities and both have storied pasts dating to the 1950s. But they're very different cars, the 500 countering the Mini's superpower and sharper handling with lower prices, a more comfortable ride and superior fuel efficiency. For 2013, the 500 comes in eight model/trim configurations, including a convertible, two levels of up-power sport tuning, and a new electric version, the 500e (California only). All models offer opportunities for personalization.
Cool, funky, fun and unexpectedly refined, the 2013 Fiat 500 bridges the gap between the sportier, pricier Mini Cooper and the more pedestrian Toyota Yaris. If you like a little car with attitude, and hear the call of Italian style sensibilities, the Fiat 500 may be for you.
Launched just last year, the Fiat 500 hatchback was soon joined by the slide-open-top 500c cabriolet, followed by the up-power Abarth version late last year. For 2013, a mid-power 500 Turbo model slides in under the aggressive Abarth, and a pure electric, the 500e, makes its debut, initially limited to California.
Driving Impressions Whereas the Mini Cooper is an undersized action hero – as in The Italian Job – the Fiat 500 is more likely to appear in a romantic comedy. The lightweight,...101-horsepower Fiat is definitely fun, just not in a car-chase kind of way. The 500 combines tiny car advantages with comfortable accommodations and a relatively smooth highway ride. The steering, brake and shift controls all have a quality feel, and the optional 6-speed automatic surprised us with its responsiveness. Obviously, the 160-horsepower Abarth model runs and drives a lot more aggressively, and the newly added Turbo model, at 135 horsepower, splits the difference in terms of over-the-road intensity. With an EPA-estimated range of 87 miles per charge, the electric-powered 500e delivers stronger acceleration than the naturally-aspirated 500s, and the quietest operation of the entire line. In any form, the 2013 Fiat 500 is tiny and quirky until you drive it. Then, it's tiny, quirky and respectable.
INTELLIGENT POWER CONVERTIBLE TOP
The 500c's dual-layer power top cycles in just 15 seconds and can be deployed at speeds up to 60 mph. The folded top stack automatically slides up into an "easy-access" position when you pop the decklid. Unfortunately, it also hampers rearward views.
Plug a USB memory stick into the Fiat 500's glovebox-mounted USB port and the car will upload onto it a variety of trip details including carbon dioxide emissions information. Plug the memory stick into your computer and you'll get personalized tips on how to improve your driving efficiency.
The Fiat 500 is roomier up front than you might expect, and just as tight in back as it looks. If you will transport more than two adults on a regular basis, we'd suggest a larger 4-door alternative. The interior style lives up to the promise of the quirky but fashionable exterior, and we found the materials, build quality and seat comfort impressive for a car with a starting price around $16,000. As the athlete of the group, the 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth offers aggressively bolstered front seats, exclusive red seam stitching and a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel.Exterior
The 2013 Fiat 500 is a modern interpretation of 1957's tiny, rear-engined original. Although larger than the original, it's still seven inches shorter than today's Mini Cooper. The iconic sloping rear end is a big part of the 500's personality, though it limits rear headroom. For 2013, the Fiat 500 is available in eight distinct models and trim combinations: The hatchback offers Pop, Sport and Lounge trim levels, while the soft-top 500c comes in Pop and Lounge. The new Turbo, Abarth and 500e electric are their own packages. Wheels, fascias and body trim differentiate the models.
The 2013 Fiat 500 and 500c Pop include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 15-inch covered steel wheels, a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, power window/locks/mirrors, Bluetooth, and a 6-speaker audio system with a USB port for portable music players. The range-topping Abarth variant includes a Bose premium audio system, 16-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, and a leather-wrapped dashboard. Standard safety features include seven airbags, hill-start assist to help prevent vehicle rollback on steep inclines and seemingly all the other advancements we're seeing on new cars in this price range and beyond.
A fully loaded 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, Bose audio system and automatic climate control. The 500 Sport model is differentiated by a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch wheels and a variety of aesthetic touches including red brake calipers and a subtle rear spoiler. The new Turbo model adds larger front brakes and more serious suspension tuning to go with its specific 16-inch wheels and identifying trim. The mighty Abarth offers larger 17-inch wheels, 2-tone leather-trimmed seats and your choice of either white or red body side stripes.
The front-wheel-drive 2013 Fiat 500 is motivated by a small but sophisticated 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine using Fiat's patented MultiAir technology, which varies intake-valve timing and lift. Fiat tunes this engine to three power levels: The base hatchback and cabriolet get 101 horsepower (naturally aspirated), the new-for-2013 Turbo makes 135 horsepower and the Abarth, also turbocharged, cranks out 160 horsepower. The new 500e electric is rated for 111 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers may look modest, but they only have to move some 2,400 pounds of car. Most of the 500s offer the choice of a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, but the turbocharged engines get only the 5-speed manual gearbox. We like the automatic for its extra ratio and responsive shifting though it does cut fuel efficiency by more than 10 percent. The 500e uses a single-speed automatic.
101 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
98 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/40 mpg (manual), 27/34 mpg (automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
135 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 mpg
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 mpg
Permanent magnet electric motor
147 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 122/108 mpg equivalent
EPA range on a full charge: 87 miles
The 2013 Fiat 500 lineup starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $16,200 for a hatchback Pop and climbs to $31,800 for the California-only 500e electric, the latest addition to the 3-door lineup. That's almost $4,000 more than the MSRP for a fully loaded 500 Abarth, the line's hot rod. However, incentives and tax credits can trim that price substantially. These can total as much as $14,000, according to Fiat. The 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop starts at just over $20,000 and can top $35,000. Fiat includes a Mini-matching 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 3-year/36,000-mile no-cost maintenance package. After a slow start, the Fiat 500 is becoming a hot commodity. Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price should reflect real-world transaction prices close to MSRP. Five-year projected residual values for the 500 fall considerably short of the Mini's, but remain slightly higher than the Ford Fiesta's.