While the 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo is a well put together vehicle out of the box, I have some suggestions that may improve the car and showcase its Italian heritage:
OK, OK, enough with the Italian stereotypes. Although the pasta bowl cup-holder maybe isn’t all that bad of an idea. Let’s talk about the car.
For folks looking for a small car with some style and good looks and a bit of bite, the 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo is a useful and smart option. As Canadians continue their love affair with small cars, Fiat’s presence in the Great White North continues to increase. With six offerings including the larger 500L, they’re offering strong alternatives in a popular market segment.
Moving the 500 Turbo is a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine (similar to the 500), but they’ve turbocharged the horses, resulting in 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Don’t snicker at that 135, however—since the car is light and small, it doesn’t need much to move forward, even before it’s turbocharged.
Drive-wise, the 500 Turbo offers responsive steering (thanks to the electric power assist steering), a smooth ride in city and urban settings and as is the case with most small cars, they’re simply fun to drive. Equipped with the optional tilt-only sunroof, there’s still plenty of head room for average-sized drivers (like myself) and taller passengers, like my father (6’2″). The Turbo can be thirsty at times for fuel if you’re heavy footed. Save your lead foot for getting on the highway and passing. Keep it lighter for cruising.
The rear seats are more suited for cargo than people; at least that’s what I found. I could easily fit a full-sized, hard-shell acoustic guitar case as well as groceries and a few other trinkets. I’d consider putting one passenger back there, but I wouldn’t want to be the fourth one in the car. I’m not knocking Fiat for this, not at all. It’s built as a small, peppy, exciting car where all the action happens in the front half (engine, driver, front passenger). Yes, it’s built for four adults but is best suited for singles/couples.
Appearance wise, my tester was bathed in white with Italian red and green racing (er, patriotic) stripes. I must’ve disappointed many onlookers when they expected to see an Italian guy/girl behind the wheel and instead saw, well, a non-Italian. A guy in an Italian bakery van did give me a thumbs up… that’s gotta count for something. Maybe he thought I was a paesano from the south?
Inside, Fiat beautifully illustrates how to do a simplistic layout effectively. All the controls you need are neatly placed within arm’s reach, and there’s plenty of clean, open space, giving it a classy and modern look. Interestingly, there’s not a single dial on the centre console; everything is push-button based. Also, the gear shifter is on the centre stack as opposed to being on the ground. It took a bit of adjusting but once you’ve changed a few gears, it becomes second nature.
A single instrument cluster gives you the driving intel you need and is mated to a three-spoke steering wheel, complete with audio/Bluetooth and cruise controls. In Chrysler fashion, the audio controls are located behind the steering wheel. Oh, and the “trip reset” button is on the end of the wiper stalk. Not quite in plain sight but a good way to maximize space.
The power window buttons are located on the centre console opposed to the doors. Even after a week in the car, I found myself aimlessly waving at the door where the window switch usually is whenever I wanted some fresh air.
Starting a touch below $19,000, there’s plenty of value to be had in the 500 Turbo. It’s got looks, style, comfortable seats, a clean layout and you’ll never say “I can’t fit into that parking spot!”
In a popular market segment, Fiat’s offering gives you a good alternative. Perhaps you’ll even find yourself speaking Italian after you spend enough time in the car. Not great Italian, mind you, but it’s a start.
Note: This article was authenticated with some eye-rolling reluctance by my good Italian friend Leo, who knows how to take a joke.