It’s Amore – Fiat’s bello 500

 

Take one look at Fiat’s oh-so-cute 500 and all you can say is Che bello bambino! What a beautiful baby.

Fiat 500 - Howard Walker

    Mark my words, this piccolo Italiano is going to be this year’s must-have fashion accessory for living La Dolce Vita on the road.

   I’ve just spent a couple of days behind the 500’s wheel and all I could think of was ‘I have to have one.’ And with prices starting at $16,000 for the well-equipped base Pop versions, and topping out at just $20,000 for the loaded Lounge version, it’s less than you’d pay for a Fendi B handbag.

   The 500 will re-launch Fiat in the States after a 27-year absence, though not too many of us have the fondest memories of the Italian brand. Fiat? Didn’t that used to stand for Fix It Again, Tony?

Fiat 500 interior - Howard Walker

   Those days are long gone. This new 2012 500 that hits Chrysler showrooms this month – remember Fiat pretty much owns Chrysler these days – is beautifully built, a hoot to drive, and looks so cute you’ll want to pick it up and give it a hug.

   Like the Mini, which is the Fiat’s natural rival, the 500 is not seen as an economy car. It’s more of a style statement, much in the same way a Swatch watch is more than a $60 timepiece.

   And it’s magnifico to drive. Its 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine may only pack 101 horses, but it delivers enough punch to zip the car through traffic like a Vespa in rush hour Roma. It’s super-economical too, averaging up to 38 to the gallon on the highway.

Fiat 500 - Howard Walker - The Wheel World

   While the five-speed manual transmission version is fun to play with, I’d go for the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic which works better in our stop-start city traffic.

   Inside there’s room for four adults at a pinch with that tall roof offering plenty of headroom. Lift the tailgate and there’s space for a day’s worth of shopping on Worth Avenue.

         I love this little car. And I’ll probably love the upcoming convertible version even more when it launches this summer. But as with any new 500, all you have to do is see it and it’s Amore!