Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tim's Request

I received a comment from Tim C. requesting an update on the Fiat 500.  Rather than just publish the comment, I skipped straight to the post.  Tim, thanks for the suggestion.

Here are a couple of shots of Guido in winter plumage.  The amount of dirt and salt are embarassing, but it does no good to wash it off.  The first few miles would return the salt and dirt.

I get a lot of compliments on the wheels.  The silver painted steel wheels have an old school sports car feel and they stand out as different since every other car has boring aluminum wheels.  The tires are Hakkapeliitta snows which are a touch overkill for lower Michigan's occasional snow.

So what is the overall verdict after 25k miles and 1.7 years. 

My favorite car that I have owned is Gidjet, an Austin Healy Sprite that I owned for over 30 years.  The Fiat is my second favorite.

The reasons are very similar between the two cars.  Both are light, precise, and responsive handling.  Before modifying the engine on the Sprite, both were a little underpowered with good shifting manual transmissions.  I truly like a car that is a little underpowered because you are always reving and shifting.  I find myself constantly involved in the act of driving which is just fine.

My friend, Mike, has been riding motorcycles for 50 years (still riding at 70) and has owned lots of motorcycles.  He says there are no bad motorcycles.  Some motorcycles are OK, some are good, and some just make you grin.   For me, the Fiat 500 makes me grin everyday.

The engine was a little tight when new, so this fun character wasn't as clear for a few thousand miles.  After about 20k miles, the exhaust seemed to loosen up a bit giving a little stronger engine note.  The engine just says, "Here I am.  Let's have a little fun."

So what else is there to like?

Quality has been near perfect.  I had a body clip on the rocker cover that popped out, but the dealer took care of that quickly and painlessly.  Their service has been excellent.

For me, the car has been very comfortable, but others have found the seat and/or seating position to be uncomfortable, so judge for yourself.  I like the stereo (not my home stereo, but good enough to sing along with), the built in USB and stereo jacks for inputting your own music, and the bluetooth/hands free phone.

Although it is a very small car, I've surprised myself with how much stuff I can haul with the seats down.  And, of course, the fuel economy has been good.  Lifetime, with lots of short runs, I've been averaging 37 mpg.  When driving on a 2 lane highway at 60 mph, I'll get about 43 mpg.  75 mph on the freeway, it drops down to 37 mpg.

If I had to complain about one thing it would be that the ride is a little stiff.  Call it European or call it sporty, it would be fine most places, but Michigan's broken roads make it feel like a younger man's ride.  In the end, it is something I have accepted as the price paid for the rest of the fun.

The big decision for me is whether to keep it when the warranty is up.  At the moment, I leaning toward keeping Guido with me for a while.


  1. I was having lunch with Tom D. from VW a few weeks ago and as we left the restaurant we passed a 500 in the parking lot. He asked what I thought and I said "Quality looks good, you'll have to ask Jac Brown about the rest, he bought one." I shall now direct Tom to your post!

  2. Thanks for the update Joc. My wife owned a Subaru Justy that was a good fit for her stature. She had good visibility in all directions and wasn't intimidated by the size of the car. She is without a car now, but we should get her one she is comfortable driving in case I can't drive for some reason. The 500 looks like a good fit.