Whatever its other virtues, it just doesn't have the same immediate visual appeal that, say, the Volkswagen New Beetle or the Mini had at the time of their U.S. launches. I know it's based on an Italian icon, but that isn't going to mean a lot in the U.S. So then I see the 500 Twin Air on the Fiat stand. It has a 0.9-liter two-cylinder engine, and, according to the display, cuts emissions by 15 percent, cuts fuel consumption by 15 percent and has start-stop technology.
Fiat isn't planning to bring this version of the 500 to the U.S., and you can understand why. Two-bangers aren't real big in the land of big vehicles and big highways. And it only delivers 86 hp.
But if Fiat could publicize some eye-popping fuel-economy figures, or look pretty green in terms of emissions, it could get some attention. The 500 needs something a little radical.