FIAT 500- Small But Iconically Designed Car

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About the FIAT 500

What about cruising in an extra- small car in the Greater Toronto Area? Well, if you are environmentally conscious and do not have carry more than one person or no large stuff to haul, think of this: FIAT 500 is available in Canada since early 2011 and deserves a closer look. The roots of the Cinquecento, (meaning “fivehundred” in Italian), FIAT’s iconic small car goes back until early 20. Century. This legendary car was produced between 1936 and 1955 as Topolino, and between 1957 and 1975 as Nuovo reached 3.5 million units in sales. According to FIAT’s Design Chief Roberto Giolito, the original Fiat 500 resembles to Bibendum, the French tire maker Michelin’s symbol, a fat man made up of layers of tires.

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This car was (and is) perfect for the narrow and sometimes impassable streets of historic cities like Rome, Florence, Siena, Paris or Vienna. I admit that there are some differences between Europe and North America  and we in Canada are not immersed into the history that much. I do not remember any street in the Greater Toronto Area that a big trailer truck cannot enter. But, still it might be fun to navigate the busy streets of Downtown Toronto or Mississauga with a cute and small Italian. To me the main strength of this car is its irresistible beauty. A cute retro design with almost perfect proportions connecting contemporary models to its predecessors. Following the merger between Chrysler and FIAT, the Italian manufacturer from Torino made a comeback to North America with its famous small car. Expect to see also Alfa Romeo,the Group’s prestigious brand on our roads in 2015. Produced in Toluca, Mexico, the FIAT 500 is sold in select Chrysler dealerships across Canada and the USA. Provided by Chrysler Canada, I drove a FIAT 500 1.4 Liter Sport for one week and about 500 kilometers. With its 1.4 Liter multi-air gasoline engine, the Cinquecento delivers 101 HP. The maximum torque of 132 Nm is reached at 4000 rpm. And at revolutions below this, the small engine of the FIAT 500 feels a bit weak. The model I drove costs nearly 24K including the options like: 6-speed automatic transmission, leather upholstery, automatic climate control system, Bose audio system, glass-sunroof, fog lamps and a sporty appearance. Today’s modern generation was launched in 2007 and exactly after 50 years of the original one. Like Volkswagen Beetle or Mini Cooper, it reflects the design heritage of an old brand with the attempt to recreate the past’s success story in modern times. Unlike our neighbor to the south, we Canadians are more interested in compact cars, as the 50 % market share of such vehicles prove.  

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After driving the FIAT 500 first few kilometers , I was convinced that I was moving on a mature chassis. This was a challenge to fine tune the suspension of a vehicle with such a short wheelbase. A tough suspension would destroy the driving comfort and a soft one compromise the safety. FIAT 500 seems to find a nice balance. It was nice and comfortable in city driving and the small FIAT 500 can easily keep pace with a normal traffic flow around 120 km/h in the highways in Ontario. In some bumpier and curvier side roads around Milton and Burlington, the communication with the road surface becomes more difficult. The rear seat of the FIAT 500 is very narrow and only fine for “small people” in short distances. It is rather and extension of the small trunk. At least, it is better than Smart which does not have rear seats at all. In the USA, FIAT 500 outsold both Mini Cooper and Honda FIT in 2011, although it was on sale for nine months only. A sportier Abart version is now on sale.

Driving in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

According to a 2012 study, commuter driving times in the GTA ranked among the top 20 Western cities. Despite the Go Transit network and the humble subway system in Canada’s biggest metropolitan area, clogged arteries of snarled traffic are a daily occurrence especially in rush hours. A lot of people spend considerable amounts of time and gas to get to and from work. Another survey from 2011 tells us that the average daily commuting time in the GTA is 80 minutes (two-way). And if you take a look at HOV lanes in 403 and QEW, it is easy to conclude that the vast majority commutes alone. So, driving a tiny car like FIAT 500 may help you save gas and sometimes to fill tiny parking “gaps” more easily. Nevertheless, the average consumption of 8.5 liters (87 octane regular) with more than 50 per cent in city is still not very impressive for a car weighting only 1075 kg.

A Look at Canada’s Biggest City

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Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and the county’s economic and business epicenter. With a population of 5.6 million in the greater metropolitan area and growing each year with new arrivals from all over the world. Toronto is best known as a multicultural and vibrant city. To me, it is, in some sense, the poor city of a rich country. I know that a lot of people will oppose the idea considering a lot of nice and expensive neighborhoods like Davisville or Richmond Hill. I will respond by reminding the miserable outlook beneath the Gardiner Expressway, the desperate appearance of the Lakeshore areas East of Jarvis Street and until recently, the shabby interior and the crumbling surfaces of the Union Station. Fortunately, a project is in progress to renovate the Union Station and preparations are underway for the lakeshore revitalization. In about two years we may expect to see a clean and revived Union Station and then you will not get jealous when you see the Central Station in New York City. Gardiner Expressway, with its crumbling concrete surfaces is an ugly wall separating the Downtown core from the Lakeshore. Extensive repairs became necessary in the early 1990’s, and since then the Gardiner has been the subject of several proposals to demolish it or move it underground as part of downtown waterfront revitalization efforts. However, considering the dire financial situation of the City of Toronto this “burial” project, reminiscent of  The Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known unofficially as the Big Dig,in Boston, MA that rerouted the Central Artery through the heart of the city, into a 5.6-km tunnel is almost impossible to realize in a foreseeable feature. Invaluable Pieces of Land Toronto is still an invaluable location. At least in terms of real estate value. The soaring condo prices are not afraid of what has happened elsewhere in the world. Scotiabank sold its head office, the 68-storey Scotia Plaza in Downtown Toronto for a record-setting 1.27 million dollars to finance its Latin American operations and to further “liquefy” its balance sheet. They leased back the landmark red tower. You would buy more fifty FIAT 500’s with that amount of money.

This small yet ironically designed Italian car FIAT 500 is the Harbinger of the Italian automobile Renaissance in the New World.

Test vehicle was provided by Chrysler Canada

For the most up-to-date product information including pricing, please visit: www.fiatcanada.com