In the past decade, the U.S. market has welcomed the arrival of several subcompacts that deliver a short wheelbase, good fuel economy and multiple style points. The Fiat 500 joined the party last year. For 2013, the Italian carmaker made some refinements and added a 135-horsepower turbo to split the difference between the base engine and the Abarth performance models.
The 500 sports several configurations. The hatchback comes in Pop, Sport or Lounge trim and is powered by a 1.4-liter inline four at 101 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque. The “t Turbo” edition features a turbo-powered four-banger good for 135 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line turbo Abarth ups the horsepower to 160 at 170 pound-feet.
The Pop, Lounge and Abarth are available as a convertible with a power-spooled fabric top. A sunroof is available for the hardtops but critics have noted that the assembly steals some headroom. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable, allowing for a higher position than in most subcompacts. The cabin features a body-color panel that runs the length of the dash.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard. Automatic is an option for all but the t Turbo. The Pop edition has 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, a six-speaker CD stereo and Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. A “Beats by Dr. Dre” premium audio package adds wattage but wedges a subwoofer into an already-miniscule trunk.
The Sport edition features 16-inch wheels and a firmer suspension. The Lounge has optional leather upholstery and a glass roof, upgraded upholstery, satellite radio and automatic climate control.
The Abarth is a vehicle unto itself. It features sport seats with mesh upholstery, 16-inch alloy wheels that can be upgraded to 17-inchers, unique interior and exterior styling, premium speakers and more, not to mention the big engine.
Fuel mileage is competitive for the category. The Pop, Sport and Lounge are good for 31 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 on the highway. The t Turbo and Abarth, despite a 25-horsepower difference in output, achieve the same mpg: 28 in the city and 34 highway.
The 2013 Fiat 500 is available now. Prices range from $16,000 for the Pop to $26,000 for the Abarth convertible.