Can you believe that only ONE of these 500s has a stick shift?
Yup, this is it. The dealership consists of a simple trailer-office and a small lot. It's McKevitt Fiat, which is right next to the much-more-established McKevitt Volvo. The dealership has 75 500s in its inventory, and what you see is what is displayed for the buying public. While we were there, a young hipster type and a baby boomer couple were also looking at the cars. Apparently, quite a few of the cars were out for test drives. Though the car has been selling poorly in America, I expect that these sell themselves in the Bay Area.
I did a little bit of online research last night. These are the basic trims available in the U.S.:
- Pop (base model). $15,500.
- Sport. $17,500. 16" wheels, sportier suspension, rear spoiler, fog lamps.
- Lounge (luxury). $19,500.
- 500C (convertible, but more of a roll down cloth top like a 2CV). $19,500.
- Abarth. $22,000.
We were interested in a stick shift base model or a sport model. As cool as the Abarth is, I didn't think it was worth $6,500 more. More on that later.
Here are some tidbits we learned from the helpful and not-pushy-at-all salesman. All of the Gucci edition Fiats were snapped up. There were no Abarths on the lot. Apparently, they only began production on them in March. If you want one, you have to buy one and then they'll build it for you. The first Northern California Abarth will arrive on May 1. It will go to the president of the local Ferrari owners club.
We understood that the car was going to be small and inexpensive. But we were still surprised by how small the car was and how sub-par the fit-and-finish and interior materials were.
First, the room. I kept reading that the 500 had more interior room than the Mini. Numbers-wise, that may be true. But I felt more constricted in the 500 (both in the front and back seats) than in the Mini. Plus, at 6' (1.82 m) (excluding my Kim Jong Il-esque bouffant), my scalp was pressed against the cloth moonroof. I felt very claustrophobic. Thankfully, the bright interior helped psychologically.
The deal breaker for us was the fit-and-finish. The North American version is built in a Chrysler plant in Mexico. (The Euro version is built in Poland.) I've been in plenty of great Mexican-built cars, but this car just didn't feel right. All of the interior surfaces felt chintzy. The seat handles and manual cloth moonroof were difficult to operate. I just know that if I was having a bad day, I would accidentally break off a trim piece or two.
We ultimately did not test drive the car. We didn't want to waste the salesman's time.
In conclusion, I don't think the 500 is a bad car. It is certainly beautiful and stylish. Plus, it may be incredibly fun to drive. It just wasn't for us.