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2013 FIAT 500 Overview

Zac Estrada
Automotive Editor - January 1, 2013

There are four trim levels for the 500 hatchback. The base Pop comes with the 1.4-liter four-cylinder that's good for 101 horsepower. The standard transmission for all 500s is a five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic is optional on all but the Abarth. All Pop trim cars get 15-inch steel wheels, power windows, locks and mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control with steering wheel controls for the six-speaker audio system that also includes a USB port and Fiat's Blue & Me phone pairing system.

Sport trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a firmer suspension and sportier styling cues and foglamps. The upscale Lounge models get 15-inch alloy wheels, the Pop's softer suspension, a glass roof and automatic climate control, among other features. The Abarth is the fastest Fiat, with a turbocharged 1.4-liter good for 160 horsepower and mated to a heavy-duty five-speed manual. Abarths get racing-inspired seats with big bolsters, lowered suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, revised steering settings and a sport steering wheel.

The Mini Cooper and Cooper S are a little larger and have higher quality interiors than the Fiat, but the Mini's controls are illogical and both cost much more. The Smart Fortwo is more compact and cheaper, but the transmission is poor and only seats two. The Scion iQ is also more compact and has a trick seating arrangement, but has a tacky interior and the CVT transmission saps power. The Ford Fiesta is a much larger car and offers luxury features, but doesn't have the same style statement.

In the era of downsizing, the Fiat 500 proves you don't have to sacrifice style or convenience features in a small car. It's not the most fuel efficient little hatchback, or the cheapest, but it is attention grabbing and would be ideal as a second car or in an urban setting where parking is a chore. And it makes a fashion statement for people looking for Italian flair without the six-figure price tag.

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