In a statement released earlier this week, Fiat the current owner of Chrysler, revealed its latest long term product plan which details what to expect from all five of its North American divisions (Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep) through the 2016 model year while also claiming once again that Alfa Romeo is coming back to the U.S. market.
When Fiat first unveiled the current 500 hatchback back in 2007, Fiat’s retro-styled three-door proved to be a success and would later migrate to our shores several years later. However a recent wave of new competitors in the European market have begun to make the 500 feel a bit outclassed and dated. To address this problem, Fiat has just launched its newest variant of the 500 – the 2013 Fiat 500S.
Did you ever have a friend who is a lot of fun in small doses, but after an extended period, their presence starts to wear on you? That’s kind of how I usually feel about small, underpowered cars. I enjoy the maneuverability and economy of them, and feel that it’s something of a novelty to drive something as small as a Scion iQ or a Fiat 500. Yet, I often find myself requesting small cars to evaluate. So, despite owning a nearly two ton, 304 horsepower sedan as my daily driver, this is the third Fiat 500 I’ve borrowed for a week. (First, I had the Fiat 500C, then I had the Fiat 500 Sport. And now, the Fiat 500 ABARTH.) It was fun to spend a week using the ABARTH, but I could never live with a car this small as a daily driver. Continue Reading →
“It is always good when a man has two irons in the fire.” –Francis and Fletcher, John Beaumont, The Faithful Friends, Act 1.
While there’s certainly something to be said for the value of multitasking (though studies have proven that the human brain actually cannot focus on more than one task at a time), Sergio Marchionne has proven that it’s very difficult to juggle management of two multinational automobile companies as he shuttles between Chrysler and Fiat.
“What is making that noise??” I certainly wasn’t the only one asking that question the first time I heard a driver behind the wheel of the new Fiat 500 Abarth revving its heavily-boosted 1.4 liter four cylinder engine with low-restriction exhaust. Literally, in a parking lot full of amazing cars – most of which put the Fiat’s 160 horsepower/170 lb-ft ratings to shame – the car whose exhaust note drew the most attention was this little Fiat.
When the original Mazda MX-5 Miata made its debut some 23 years ago, a number of British sports cars such as the MG MGB, Austin-Healey Sprite, and Lotus Elan were cited as the car’s inspiration. Few mentioned the Alfa Romeo Spyder at the time as another inspiration, and perhaps it was not. However, the Spyder was very much cut from the same cloth as the Miata, and in fact, the two competed against one another until Alfa withdrew the car from the US after the 1993 model year.
Over the years, we have been one of the few outlets to give Serbian automaker Zastava a fair shake. This fact did not go unnoticed by the Zastava PR staff, who never saw it in their hearts to give us a press car to flog, but they did have frequent contact with our former (and missed) writer, Andy Bannister.
One of the worst-kept secrets in the auto industry is that the Fiat 500 was not going to hit its sales target of 50,000 units for 2011. Instead, Fiat sold just 19,769 cars in the US in 2011, falling short of its goal by more than 60 percent. While analysts have blamed the company’s slow rollout, tepid marketing, and lack of Fiat dealers for the car’s flop, I think I actually know the real reason. People literally laugh at big guys who drive these cars. Trust me – I’ve experienced this first hand.
By Chris Haak
While Fiat’s 500 may be late to the party in some ways (it arrived in the US four full years after its overseas launch and it’s also coming in at what may be the tail end of a “retrofuturism” era), in some ways it’s also right on time. The car represents not only a beachhead for the Fiat brand’s return to the US, but also desperately-needed fresh product for Chrysler as the company awaits further reinforcements from its new owners across the pond in that boot-shaped country named Italy.
By Chris Haak
Last week, about two years after exiting bankruptcy protection, Chrysler Group LLC has repaid its outstanding government loans. Between a $5.9 billion USD repayment to the US government (principal plus interest) and a $1.7 billion USD repayment to the Canadian government, the company repaid $7.6 billion USD of its obligations to the two countries’ taxpayers. Today, Fiat announced that it has purchased the 6 percent of Chrysler owned by the US government for $500 million USD.
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