Fiat needs 500 to deliver ‘fun-to-drive' moments

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Will the Fiat 500 be a hit?

The U.S. version was revealed last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The 500 is a cute little sporty hatchback that's a bit shorter than a Mini Cooper.

The first Fiat 500 vehicles arrive at dealers in January, as 2012 models. Pricing starts around $16,000. The marketing blitz kicks off in March.

Fiat is targeting U.S. sales at 45,000 in 2012. That seems like a lofty goal considering Fiat's U.S. history and reputation for quality is far from stellar.

But it is not an impossible goal if the car makes a good first impression with journalists and buyers. It has to be a winner from Day 1. This is the Fiat brand's second chance in this country.

Specifically, fit-and-finish, ride, handling, comfort have to be exceptional. The car has to have a solid feel.

Under the hood, there needs to be a powerful yet economical engine that contributes to that fun-to-drive feeling.

I expect reviews for the 500 will appear in the next several weeks. We'll know fairly soon whether the Fiat 500 has the potential to be a winner.

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.