As posted in another thread, I picked up my 500 Wednesday morning (a day before the official "first" US car) and have now had a chance to drive it around a little and form some impressions. So here they are, in semi-random order. I'll try not to repeat much of what's already been stated in the online magazine reviews, etc.
The car was in perfect shape when we got it, except that the shift boot was not pressed all the way in at one tab - a little pressure got it seated into place. We got on the Interstate within 5 minutes of leaving the dealership - so much for the owner's manual suggestion of keeping it under 55 mph for the first 300 miles. It had a fair amount of road noise on the highway, though around town that just hasn't been evident.
It may be a subcompact, but it's really tall. Much taller than the Mini (we had an '02 S that now belongs to one of our sons), and it actually seems big in our garage - the car it replaced was also much lower. So to people getting into the front seats it doesn't seem small.
Part of the reason it's so tall is there's a lot of room in the wheel wells. Some enthusiasts will want to change out the springs and maybe get bigger wheels (though the Sport wheels are really nice). I'm going to be autocrossing mine in a stock class, so I'll have to stick to the standard springs and wheel sizes.
It has some body roll in part due to the high center of gravity, but it's not bad. The ride is a good compromise, especially given the short wheelbase. Those who lower the car will have to be careful lest they screw up this balance and make the ride too jarring.
Speaking of the wheelbase, you really get a sense of how short this car is when you go over a speed bump - the rear wheels seem to immediately follow the fronts over the bump. But speed bumps also reveal something about the engine's flexibility. You can leave the car in second gear without depressing the clutch even when slowing to a crawl to get over a big speed bump - no near-stalling, no protest of any kind from the motor.
And as others have stated, the motor likes to be revved. The car is not at all slow in traffic (in Sport mode), and it's fun to hit the go pedal in 2nd and 3rd gear - the revs and exhaust note build and you can really scoot. Which is kind of surprising given its pedestrian 0-60 numbers, but it feels responsive and really seems to like being flogged.
Inside the car things are mostly great. I'm a big fan of the body-colored dash, and there are a number of nice touches in so economical a car. The door armrests have a really nice spongey texture, and the speaker grilles even have a pleasing ripple effect pattern. The EVIC display is useful, and the gauge layout is nicely designed. The carpet mats look kind of flimsy though. (Also, for anyone who's thinking of getting the Nav system, it'll be best to get it as an option already on the car, since if the car isn't equipped with it there's no docking hole in the dash.)
The seats are just okay. Better than the "sport" seats in the Mini, but not outstanding. I think in trying to accommodate American "widebodies" they may have done a disservice to those of us with more trim physiques. Front visibility is great, and the armrest is a welcome amenity. The steering wheel tilt adjustment doesn't go down that far, so if you like to have the wheel low in your lap you'll have to raise your seat a bit higher.
I'm pleasantly surprised by the Bose system - it really sounds good. Great flexibility with the USB, AUX and Sirius inputs easily controlled from the instrument panel, steering wheel or voice command. I'm a big Beatles fan, so I'm just leaving my "Apple" memory stick in the USB so I can switch from Sirius to my iTunes to the Beatles at will. You can set things up to your liking, for instance a particular playlist, or always being in shuffle mode, etc.
The Bluetooth implementation is a nice feature. Easy to set up, and should make communication and media control more convenient. With compatible phones it's even supposed to be able to read and store text messages sent to you while driving, though I haven't had a chance to check that out.
Well, I guess that's about it for now. Oh yeah, if they give you a Fiat t-shirt, be warned that the sizes are not what you'd expect - they gave me a Men's XL which turns out to be about a Medium.
Feel free to post any questions and i'll try to answer them!
Nice photo...very pretty...have fun :)
I have a feeling my 500 will never be out of sport mode....
Nice photo Spindoc. Looks like sunrise ( or set ) somewhere near the coast.
I'm going to pick up my PE tomorrow from the same place.
Nice review and without repeating the broken record, you have emphasized what many of us who've driven the car have said about it and some features some of us have not had the opportunity to try out, like the sound system.
That said, did you get the basic Russo? If so, is it a bright red, a medium shade red or darker? If medium shade, does it have a bit of a blue cast to it? I think it does, especially under some lighting conditions.
Nice photo of the car BTW.
Thanks. Yeah, it's the regular Rosso. It's a bright red. In some pics online it looks more orange than it really is.
Based on a forum post I went to Concord (CA) from San Jose and drove a 500 (sport) for the 1st time:
(1) the car will fit in your shirt pocket, it might be close the size of Hot Wheels, My wife was shocked and burst out laughing, our 11 year old was more reserved. I suggested that since we had driven an hour to get there and would drive an hour home we might go ahead at a least sit in it... consent obtained.
(2) Its like The Tardus (sp?), a phone booth on the outside... big inside.
(3) I have had back surgery and have to be picky about seats, IT GAVE LUMBAR SUPPORT as-is. My wife said the seat made her neck pain go away.
(4) The design is totalmente fabulouso. The USB port is in the glove box. (btw, I had to show the salesman)
(5) For a tiny wheelbase it does an amazing job, it had Pirelli tires (16" wheels as you know)
(6) After the Motor Trend article I expected crappy brakes - not so, they left me confident
(7) The fit, finish and materials are very very nice, the car was done with great attention do detail
(8) I will pick up mine, errr, ours on Tuesday, the hell with home delivery; can't wait to drive it again
(our other car is a G35)
Stop Thinking, stop writing, go drive it!
Its quality through and through.
A home run on the first swing folks no two ways about it; I was doing 80 on the freeway without realizing it.
Motor Trend said "it's delightful"
PrimaEdizione173 says "it's a hoot; a great buy"
Finally, the salesmen were not snotty prats like at Mini and BMW!
Go drive it!
Let me know if it fits in your shirt pocket.
Jonny Lieberman (the guy who wrote the Motor Trend article) is a good man. I know him personally and trust his opinions. If memory serves, the comment of squirrelliness under braking was only for really quick panic stops.
Glad to hear you, like so many of us and like just about every reviewer out there, love the car. Go get 'em!
I finally took a test drive yesterday at Fiat of Salt Lake City, and I must say, I'm impressed. In spite of the great reviews, I would have expected a car of this size and price to feel cheap and tinny, but it doesn't. I placed my order on the spot.
A few things that stood out to me:
-Fit, finish, and material quality are generally excellent. There are a few things that look and feel a little cheap, but the great thing is, they're all things that you generally don't see or touch very often while driving the car (parking brake, seat adjustment levers). Everything else looks good and feels solid.
-The car was remarkably free of wind or tire noise, even on a grooved concrete freeway.
-The driving position and ergonomics are excellent.
-At 6'1", most of which is torso, I was about at the height limit for a sunroof model. In a non-sunroof car I still had a little to spare.
-You sit quite high, with a commanding view of the road. This was a pleasant surprise, because the intermountain west is hardcore truck and SUV country and I have always felt at a disadvantage, visibility-wise, driving a passenger car.
-Speaking of visibility, the A-pillars are quite thick and felt like a bit of a blind spot at first, although I quickly got used to it.
-The engine is pretty much what the reviews say. It's not a real powerhouse, but it has some pep if you rev it, and I was impressed with its flexibility. If I short-shifted, it didn't buck or vibrate or show any other signs of lugging or bogging down.
-Sport mode makes a BIG difference in both throttle response and steering.
-Some people have said the shifter is vague, but I don't agree. It's not outstanding, but it's at least average in terms of both feel and precision. I loved the feel of the big, chunky shift knob.
-The colors look quite a bit different in person than they do on the website. I strongly suggest looking at the swatches before making a decision. It even looked good in white, which I ordinarly hate.
I had a great experience with Fiat of SLC, but I'm going to start a new thread for that.
Can anyone else that actually has received their 500 please post some impressions (driving, fit and finish, etc.) of you car now that you've had it for a few days?
Took delivery of #63 Rossa PE yesterday at Reedman-Toll. I've driven the European version extensively, so the PE was really no surprise. It does seem overwhelmed by America Gargantua but that's more of a statement about American culture than it is about FIAT or the Cinquecento.
I don't have much to add about the many driving impressions. It does seem a bit quieter than the European Sport model, and maybe I could feel a tiny difference between the 1.4L vs 1.2L engines in the two.
The delivery was almost completely unceremonious and business as usual. No T-shirt, USB stick or any other special treatment. It took almost 4 hours to go through the entire process (as compared to the 45 minutes it took for my last car, a BMW). The staff, who were courteous but preoccupied (it was a Saturday and this dealer sells at least ten different marques, so things were busy), knew virtually nothing about FIAT and absolutely nothing about PE's. I made a joke about Sergio or Laura Soave being there to give me a congratulatory kiss that yielded blank stares. There was one non-PE 500 on the sales floor in the Chrysler showroom, amidst the SUV's and 300's and Sebrings or 200's or Themas or whatever the hell they're calling them now. No FIAT Studio in sight; though the salesperson said they're building it I didn't see any construction underway anywhere. To be fair, they did keep repeating that the PE was "a very cool car" and warned me to be careful driving at first because people were going to slow down, swerve, etc. to figure out what that was (something that hasn't really happened yet, by the way). The salesperson took my picture with the car and I had to sign a release to allow him "to put it on [his] web page."
One thing that's surprised me a little is the documentation. There's no thick Owner's Manual, just a slim (68 pages) User Guide, which is more like a Quick Reference, and a DVD with videos and an HTML-based Reference Guide. The User Guide is well-written, if cursory, in clear idiomatic English. If it's translated rather than original text, it's very well done. I haven't had a lot of time to look through the DVD, but what I have seen has left me unimpressed. The UI is clunky and slow, and the information haphazardly presented.
This is particularly true of the Blue & Me documentation, which is unfortunate because the User Guide gives only just enough info to pair a phone and that's it. If you want to know what the voice commands are, you have to refer to the DVD, which presents a set of command tree diagrams in fuzzy, low-resolution GIFs that are mostly unreadable. I found a more readable/accessible version here, but it's for the European version and the steering wheel control setup is different. I haven't had a chance to review hands-on in the car and compare functions with the US version. Leaving aside the poor quality of the documentation, it's apparent that the Blue & Me system has enormous functionality (if all the integration works as promised); I'm looking forward to exploring further.
Sticking with controls, I was also at first flummoxed by the steering wheel audio/speed/phone controls, until I read the User Guide. The volume and station selector buttons are on the back of the wheel, beneath your index fingers. On my first drive I thought I had to reach over to the radio to do all that and it seemed a poor design choice, so that was a pleasant surprise and, to me, a very smart design decision.
I did immediately go into EVIC and turn off the bloody daytime running lights, set the time and date (both of which had been set, but wildly incorrectly) and a couple of others. Again here, the description in the User Guide is so superficial that I didn't know what a couple of the settings meant even after consulting the Guide, so I'll have to go back and look at the DVD to figure them out. I can tell that it's going to be a PITA not having a printed version of the full Reference Guide in the car, especially for the getting-to-know-each-other break-in period. If they're going to do this sort of documentation, then the vehicle should have a DVD player! I'm categorically not going to carry around a notebook PC to refer to this on the fly.
Those are the main things I've found so far. I've had the car for a few hours only, so haven't had much chance to explore beyond this.
I have a `10 Dodge Challenger and it also came with only a quick reference guide in print. With the Dodge you can call and they will send a full printed owners manual. Of course, when I did this they sent the wrong one!! The phone # I have is 1-800-890-4038. No idea if this will work for Fiat.
I wonder if they can put the full manual on an iPad? Or just a PDF file...would still work great on any tablet, laptop, smart phone... That would be great for the break in period...I would just keep my iPad in the glovebox and pull it out when I wanted to set something new up...while stopped of course :)
Why turn off the daytime running lights?
Thanks and enjoy you 500...
Great idea about PDF - the Blue & Me manual I linked to is an Acrobat file and I'm putting it on my Kindle (which fits in the glovebox, does the iPad?).
I turn off the running lights because they're a wasteful placebo. Although some early small-population foreign govt and IIHS studies seemed to show marginal reductions in accidents on vehicles with DRL's, other more recent and larger-population studies have shown no benefit or even marginal increases. The National Motorists Association, which opposes mandated DRL's, say "DRL's aggravate other motorists, obscure directional lights, waste fuel, 'mask' other road users that don't have headlights on, or don't have headlights period (pedestrians and bicyclists) and their net effect on accident reduction is zero or worse. Because DRLs negatively effect other motorists, they should be omitted from all new cars by government mandate. Furthermore, all states should explore legislation that limits daytime headlight use to low beam or parking lights."
If I want/need lights on during daylight hours, I know where the switch is.
I've had my 500 for 24 hours and only put 100 miles on it.
Even better than expected, I could leave it alone and be happy with it just as it is as a daily driver. But, I will probably make a few changes. It's fun to drive and you can toss it around.Should be a good stock autoXer.
Lots of likes!
Hard to reach back for the seatbelt.
Horn beep when locking the car.
Sunroof version gets hot in the sun and the sunshade does not do quite enough. An insulated reflective shield is available from one of the vendors that is supporting this site and we can finally support them. http://www.campione500.com/SRS.htm
I have the block heater but there is no info on its use or location.
A couple of pictures One shows how well the beer holders worked at South Beach.
As for DLR's, it actually began in the late 70's in Sweden where it's dark most of the time during the winter months to help make them easier to see since daytime hours are often dark and dim.
I have heard of the controversies, especially here in the US as when we first began implimenting DLR's in the early 90's, they were of full brightness but complaints came in and by mid decade, were reduced to reduced brightness and add to that, they ONLY deal with the front lights, not the side or rear lights and most systems also turn on the dash lights, which most people erroneously think means their lights are 'on" when in fact, only the front lamps are on, at reduced brightness when it is dark outside. But even if you didn't have DLR's some people simply forget to turn their lights on AT ALL at night and saw this last evening when finding a place to park.
I'm not going to bother with turning them off as I turn on my lights anyway, day or nighttime anyway because it makes me MUCH easier to be seen from the side and behind as well and this way, I have SOMETHING on if I do forget, which is rare and it's also second nature to turn off the lights when I leave the car as well.
Dashboard lights coming on without the headlights on has nothing to do with DRLs and everything to do with a recent trend automakers have been following, since dashboards that illuminate all the time give somewhat of a more luxurious feel. A lot of Lexuses in the past decade have done this, for example. My mother's Mazda CX-9, my dad's Corvette, my dad's former G35, and my sister's Civic all do this as well. I've seen cars driving around at night with no lights on at all—DRL or otherwise—and due to the cars in question I've more often than not been able to attribute it to this.
Many motorists are pretty dumb when it comes to operating their vehicles. They aren't dumb because they have DRLs, they're dumb because they never bother to learn how to use the controls. They don't leave their lights off because they have DRLs, they leave their lights off because they see dashboard illumination and they don't know what the "headlights on" indication light looks like because they never bothered to read the manual.
This is a two-way street. A lot of motorists also seem to have quite a lot of trouble turning their lights on in the rain. This may not be much of an issue where you live, but in the Deep South, where thunderstorms are rather common, it's a big deal. Changing lanes on the highway in heavy rain can be a death wish if the motorists coming up behind you don't bother to turn their lights on, and they often don't. DRLs mitigate this considerably.
And "waste fuel"? Come on. You can balance the fifteen watts or so it's pumping to the fronts to run your DRLs by wearing a slightly thinner T-shirt.
Totally agree with you and I wasn't inferring DLR's to be the root cause, but the driver's themselves for they ASSUME that just because their dash lights are a glow, that their outside lights are too. Its often because they don't RTFM to begin with and have NO clue about their car.
Also, many cars and the 06 Chevy Cobalt I rented had this where the lights would automatically come on during overpasses and tunnels if the sensor sensed not enough light, then turned them off when it did. Lame if you ask me. I drove with the lights physically turned on the whole week I had that car.
But what you say about the dash lights being on all the time is quite true and I think the Cobalt had it as well, as is the Fiat if I remember right, but that is largely impart due to the DLR's I think, but as you say, maybe not but I've seen this phenomenon with cars that have DLR's as I've only seen the headlights lit up at reduce brightness and NO OTHER LIGHTS on, but also with NO lights on at all, not even DLR's, at night even.
Where I live, it's often dark, gray and raining for much of the year (roughly late Oct through April at least) so driving with lights on even during the day is a very good idea, just look at the commercial vehicles, they almost all do drive with their lights on for safety reasons to begin with.
Unfortunately, I tried to download the Blue&Me file, but it comes up as a ZIP file, not as a PDF and thus I could not get it to open, unless I'm doing something wrong as the notepad notations say open this file, nothing happens (used WinRAR for unzipping).
In reply to this post by sketch
On an individual basis, many items of energy consumption seem negligibly important, but when you multiply 10W (not fifteen) times millions it does make a difference. Some DRL systems consume up to 200W, which can lower mileage over .5mpg. Multiply that by millions. This is not unlike all the LED indicator light "energy vampires" in homes today. Turn off the lights in your house and count the number of tiny little lights on every conceivable device. Every one of them may consume no more than a few watts, and even taken all together might not put much a bump in your own electric bill. But expand the count to dozens or hundreds per household and then millions of households and collectively it amounts to more than $4 billion a year of wasted energy here in the United States. What's more, the Department of Energy says that about 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.
This is one of the biggest challenges in conservation - people don't think their tiny contribution (or lack of contribution) can make any difference. It's doubly difficult when industry or government forcibly mandates micro energy-wasting things like DRL's, on the flimsiest of evidence.
I do understand that, but the difference between equipping cars with DRLs and equipping homes with CFLs is that DRLs do have, in my experience, a definite safety advantage in certain situations.
At any rate, the only reason some may have noticed a correlation between DRLs and always-on dash lights is that both are somewhat recent trends. While my old '96 Camry had neither and my dad's '09 Corvette and sister's '08 Civic have both, our old '01 Sequoia and '01 IS300 had DRLs with no daytime dash illumination, and the '07 CX-9 and '05 G35 have an always-illuminated dash and (if memory serves) no DRLs.
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