2015 Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a cheeky subcompact with little space but big style. Aside from the standard 500, Fiat offers a quasi convertible called 500c, a more powerful model dubbed 500 Turbo and an all-out hot hatch christened500 Abarth.

Before the 500, Fiat had not officially offered a car in the United States and Canada for nearly 30 years, so the diminutive two-door is a monumentally important vehicle for the brand as it hopes to reestablish itself as a player in the U.S. market.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, all models but the entry-level 500 Pop gain an instrument cluster-mounted 7.0-inch HD TFT that displays speed, fuel level, Eco index and trip information. The center console has also been redesigned for ease of use, and streaming audio via Bluetooth is newly standard.

North American 500s
The 500 - or Cinquecento, as it is known in Italy - saw many changes during its journey across the pond to make it fit for American consumption.

Revisions include a redesigned body structure that resulted in additional strength, a re-tuned suspension that is sporty, but not overly firm, over 20 changes to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), a new ABS system, a larger 10.5-gallon fuel tank, upgraded heating and cooling, redesigned seats, re-tuned steering to increase stability and a new Bose energy Efficient Series audio system.

The 500 is powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque while returning 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 27/34 mpg with an optional six-speed automatic transmission.

The Turbo model bridges the gap between the standard 500 and the Abarth model thanks to an upgraded version of the MultiAir mill that makes 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. of torque. Fuel economy checks in at 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard five-speed manual transmission.

Trim Level Breakdown
The 500 is available in three different trim levels: Pop, Sport and Lounge.

If you want a 500 without frills (or added cost), the 500 Pop includes a manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels with chrome-accented wheel covers and all-season tires, seven standard air bags, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio with auxiliary audio input, power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, speed control and reconfigurable Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) with trip computer, miles-to-empty, average fuel economy and tire-pressure monitoring display (TPM).

For the driving enthusiast who seeks Italian style with a sport-tuned suspension and more convenience features, the new Fiat 500 Sport model adds into the mix stiffer springs, sport-minded shock tuning, steering calibration and exhaust tuning, to deliver a more firm ride with improved handling.

The 500 Sport model swaps in more sporty front and rear fascias with larger honeycomb grilles and flared aerodynamic treatment. Also added to the Sport trim are unique 16-inch aluminum wheels with Mineral Gray painted pockets and all-season tires, new bodyside sill cladding and a liftgate-mounted roof spoiler for a sporty appearance.

Completing the sport theme are Performance Red painted brake calipers attached to a sport-tuned suspension, chromed exhaust tip and fog lamps. Inside, the Fiat 500 Sport features unique sport-styled seating in a Gray/Black interior scheme, a Bose Energy Efficient Series audio system with six premium speakers and subwoofer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Blue & Me Handsfree Communication technology with USB port and iPod control capability. A 7.0-inch HD TFT display is newly standard.

The 500 Lounge is the "Limited" model of the range, loaded with premium amenities including front- and rear-fascia chromed accents, chrome mirror caps, fog lamps, fixed glass roof, 15-inch aluminum wheels with all-season tires, premium cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Sirius satellite radio, Bose Energy Efficient Series audio system with six premium speakers and subwoofer, security alarm, Blue & Me Hands-free Communication technology with USB port and iPod control capability.

Limited-Edition Models
Buyers looking to stand out can order one of two limited-edition models called Ribelle and 1957 Edition.

The 500 Ribelle is based on the Pop trim level. Designed to highlight the "rebellious" side of the 500, it gains red paint on the roof, the spoiler and the mirror caps as well as contrasting black trim on the wheels and the light bezels. Buyers can order it in white, silver, gray or black.

Positioned at the very top of the 500 lineup, the 1957 Edition pays homage to the original rear-engined Cinquecento that put Italy on wheels over half a century ago.

Swathed in one of three "classic" exterior paint schemes, the 500 1957 Edition bristles with vintage charm. A white (or Bianco, in Italian) roof, heritage-style Fiat badges and period-style wheels look more to the past than the future.

Based on the Lounge trim level, the 1957 Edition is available in either white, Verde Chiaro (a light green) or an exclusive blue called Celeste. Regardless, all 1957s get the aforementioned white roof plus white mirror caps.

Inside, brown leather seats and accents are included. Once again, special retro-style Fiat badges have been placed throughout the 500. Owners will also receive a special ivory key fob unique to the 1957 Edition.

Occupant Safety
Standard safety items include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.

Key Competitors
Small, cute-as-a-button coupes like the 500 range from the truly small smart fortwo and Scion iQ to the larger, fine-handling MINI Cooper.