I thought I'd share my experience with my new Fiat with the world via this forum.
I needed a commuter car and live in the city, so I wanted something very small (for parking and maneuvering) and fuel efficient (for longer drives and now that gas is +$4/gallon), but also wanted something fun.
Mini Coopers are "OK", but there are 27 of them just on my block alone, and while I like the VW Golfs GTIs, I was afraid of buying one from a driver just like myself who kind'a beats the hell out of cars.
Mini's were out (I don't particular care for them anyway) and a used VW was out. The Fit is too family truckster looking and Masda's 2's and 3's don't get as good mileage as the Fiat, and I drove the Yaris last year and it was terrible....sooooo...
The Fiat 500 is new to the U.S. (for those here who don't know that) and there are 3 models: The Pop ($15,000), Sport ($17,000) and Lounge ($19,000) (there is a high end model called the "Abarth" but too pricey for me at $25,000 which I wont talk much about here).
The cars are basically all the same (except the Abarth)...same engine, transmission, size, etc.
The Sport comes with a bit more flash outside (fog lamps, different body "skirts", and a fin on the back window) and few package options inside (BOSE radio/speakers, better seats, etc), and the Lounge comes with the Sports package + a few more upgrades.
The point is, each model is mechanically the same, you just get to pick which set of upgrades you want to come as standard for a price.
Most people are paying base sticker prices (+ delivery charges) but you can get the price down about the same amount that the dealers charge for "paper work". In my case it was $300.
Colors are all a personal choice so I wont say much here, other than tell you that I settled on "white" after a long debate, and that the fancy red is +$500.
I was able to drive off the lot with it just a week ago and here's what I've experienced in the past 600 miles:
I have driven in the "big city" (Boston) and on country roads. Parked on tiny city streets and gone 40+ miles on the highway out to central Mass. I've been stuck in traffic, and have gone 90+ MPH.
The car does it all, if you understand what it can do.
A full sized laundry basket barely fit in the "trunk" (what is the area in the back of a hatchback called?), and to get a weeks worth of groceries home I'd have to put the back seats down (making it a 2 passenger car).
I'm a pretty average sized guy (200+ and 5' 10'') and I find it very roomy inside with plenty of head room (with out a sunroof). I'm not cramped or squeezed in at all, with plenty of room for my arms and I can comfortably reach everything. In fact, if I didn't buy the standard transmission, I'd have a bit more room since I am slid up about 1/2 way just to be able to press down the clutch peddle.
With a passenger in with me, we do sometimes bump elbows when both trying to put on our seat belts, but once "in", there is plenty of space.
My first complaint (an extremely minor one) is that the dial that controls which fan blows hot/cold air out is a bit hidden behind the shifter, so I have to really look around for the right position, until I memorize which position is what.
The back seat is a joke, and maybe maybe if a front seat passenger pulled allllll the way up an adult could fit in the back, but other than that...not really. Only children could possibly fit back there with any comfort.
I wish there was an option for a better storage system in the back rather than pretending people could sit back there. Maybe a 3rd side door and more storage or something.
Again, plenty of room up front and if you are just 2 people, there is enough room. My wife has a four door car, so any group outings we take her car. This Fiat is my commuter car and for that it is great.
Another thing to note is that even though this is a tiny car on the outside, unlike most cars you don't sit very low to the road. I feel that I have to climb in and out of the Honda Civics I've been in but not the Fiat. There is not a lot of moving up or down to get out or into this car. I'm not low to the ground when I drive either.
Visibility is very good. Large front window, and the rear view mirror allows you to see the entire view out the back. The drivers side mirror is split in two, with one normal mirror and one designed to minimize the blind spot. The other side mirror is normal, and I don't understand why both aren't designed the same since I've become very accustomed to the split design.
I have yet to find a significant blind spot on either side.
This is a tiny little engine. Don't think you're going to win any races in this car. However....
Oh my gosh is this fun to drive!! In "sport" mode, the throttle response is much nicer and it goes like mad! The handling is really impressive.
Most modern cars don't have mechanical linkage between the gas pedal and the engine. I think this is to improve gas mileage but when you step on the gas, you're just asking the computer to make the car go faster. In "sport" mode, the throttle response is much more sensitive to the pedal. However, this costs you in miles per gallon.
The cornering is really nice and I can take corners and on/off ramps seemingly as fast as I can brave.
I chose the standard to save money (+$1000 for an automatic), to save on gas, and for fun...and boy is it!
A few minor minor minor complaints:
The shift knob is cheap cheap plastic and since I have to interact with it allll the time my impression is that the car is cheap (but it really isn't).
The speedometer and tachometer are setup pretty cool, stacked on top of each other and in full sun light it is very easy to figure out how fast and how many rpms are going on, but even when the dash lights are on, if there is shade or a cloud or something it is at times difficult to see either quickly (at 90+ mph speed is important!).
Blue&Me is now standard in all models (there are a few out there where it is an additional charge so be cautious...is should be free) which links to my cell phone so I can make calls hands free through my stereo and my car will even read my txt messages to me!
There is a USB port in the glove box and if I stick a USB stick in, it will download driving data that I can upload to my computer and it will tell me how to improve my gas mileage, etc.
If there is music on the USB stick, it can even play it through the stereo. Much more convenient than those old fashioned CD's!
Another issue I have is the seat will pump up and down for adjustment, and the mechanism to do that feels like it is going to break whenever you touch it. Luckily it is a set and forget type option.