Needn’t have worried about the Fiat’s ability to climb the mountains during planned five-day trip exploring the highways and byways of North Wales.

(more…)

Fiat Chrysler promises to deliver some models here – likely rebadged – that have enjoyed success in Europe.

(more…)

Fiat’s new trip down memory lane has come a long way since 1957

(more…)

“FIAT is displaying a custom-painted 500e Stormtrooper car, in support of the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ movie…”

KM LA2 FIAT 500 stormtrooper

Los Angeles, California.

The Fiat brand has two very special custom-designed space vehicles on show at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Fiat is displaying a custom-painted 500e Stormtrooper car, in support of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, opening December 18,

The exterior livery is inspired by the armour of the First Order Legion, with a two-tone black and white custom painting of the car body. The windshield and the side windows are wrapped to bring out the immediately recognizable visor and helmet of the First Order stormtrooper.

Inside, everything is in black and white, too, with total custom front and rear seats upholstered in leather. The dashboard is painted in white and bears the “Star Wars” logo and a First Order insignia can be found on the two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Also displayed is a custom-wrapped DVF (Diane von Furstenberg) Fiat 500X.

Mattel’s “Hot Wheels” picks up the movie theme with a beast of a car named for Darth Vader!

The Galpin auto group ramps up the wild and wacky wheels with a LOL display. This showgoer’s favourites are the miniature VW Bug with the giant block engine, the Scooby Doo VW campervan and the Galpin Bubble Car.

“Despite having a mini-compact designation, you can spot these adorable Italian creations from miles away…”

When was the last time another motorist waved at you because you were driving a similar make and model as theirs?

A couple of weeks ago? Months? Never?

Most wouldn’t even consider acknowledging the presence of other cars in the same category with a friendly hand gesture.

I mean, if you drive a Toyota Corolla, your hands would rarely be on the steering wheel!

Then again, there are few breeds of cars that foster such responses.

One is the Fiat 500.

Not once, not twice, but thrice did I have random 500 owners wave at me in commuting situations. At first I was confused, and awkwardly waved back. Then it became commonplace so I just rode the wave, so to speak.

Despite having a mini-compact designation, you can spot these adorable Italian creations from miles away. It did help that the 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo I was captaining came clad in a very nationalistic robe. Red, white and green racing stripes adorned the hood, roof and rear of the hatchback.

Normally, I’d consider this overkill and highly unnecessary. But it somehow worked really well with this model.

It’s not for everyone but that’s the beauty of the Fiats. There are so many ways in which you can personalize them (there are 15 exterior colours to choose from, not to mention countless ways in which you can dress them up), and unless you’re getting a black-on-black vehicle, chances are, you might not see another like it in your area.

Another beauty of this vehicle is its versatility. Sure, it’s small but it actually can do a lot with what it has been given. For example, there’s room for four inside, as well as 269 litres of trunk space.

Kick out your rear passengers, fold down the seats, and you have even more space with which to work. So much so that I was able to fit my road bicycle inside. Okay, I had to take off the front wheel, but I have been in coupes much bigger than the 500 and didn’t have the same luxury.

Then there’s the engine. Its humble 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque being produced from its 1.4L, MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder might look mediocre on paper, but it brings this car to life.

And of the three available engines offered, the base, naturally aspirated 1.4L MultiAir, the Turbo, or the Turbo from the Abarth version (160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque), the 500 Turbo (middle child of engines) is my top pick.

It is spirited, peppy and makes driving fun. It’s enough horsepower to play with, but not enough to get into too much trouble.

Adding to the fun factor is the introduction of an all-new Aisin heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. A manual lover to the core, I quite liked the new addition to the fold. It also took the edge off in urban commuting.

And for the times when you want a little more gusto, there’s a “Sport” mode. You’ll find this magical button on the instrument panel. What it does is change the throttle mapping for improved engine responsiveness.

While I love the car as a whole, I still have a couple of quibbles with it. The instrument panel (with the push buttons and all) looks archaic and is a headache to work with.

Furthermore, the optional navigation also sits atop the dash, which eats up prime real estate with it comes to forward visibility. And it looks misplaced.

But for the reasons I wrestle with the Fiat 500 Turbo, there are plenty more favourable features that put me at ease. The optional Beats stereo system sounds great in the cabin, the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob feel nice between my fingers and the optional red leather seats make the interior pop.

Then there’s the drivability. I love its competency in corners. It handles much like a decked out go-kart but doesn’t give you same kinds of aches and pains.

I guess it’s no surprise why fellow Fiat 500 drivers wave at others. They’re excited about their car and want to share the love.

The Fiat 500 Turbo Hatchback has a starting MSRP of $21,395. But with all the options, the price as tested comes out to $30,370.

Visit www.fiatcanada.com for more information.


 

Contact the writer at alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

“Those in the market that are looking for a small crossover that has style and swagger now have the 2016 FIAT 500X to look at.”

Beverly Hills, California.

Winding down an exceptionally sinuous road near Malibu in Southern California, I can’t help but think to myself, “Wow, FIAT was pretty brazen in putting their new, small crossover on such technical roads.”

Switchback after switchback, the turns just keep coming at me. The road was narrow; barely accommodating another motorist, who decided to ascend such a route, so you need to be at the top of your game. So does the vehicle.

But as I weave the all-new 500X through these bends and twists that move faster than a slithering snake ready to pounce on its prey, I also think this vehicle is doing really well.

Steering is weighted to give the driver good feedback. There’s also a Sport mode that can be accessed through the Dynamic Selector system (depending on the trim opted for), to give you a little more oomph in those kinds of conditions. For situations where you want more traction, there’s a Traction + mode, too.

Talking of trim selection, there are five to choose from. The entry-level Pop has an MSRP of $21,495. Then there’s the Sport, which jumps to $25,995, the Trekking at $26,995, the Lounge for $29,990 and the Trekking Plus for $30,490.

Then you can choose between two engines. The first is a 1.4L, turbocharged, MultiAir that has 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The optional of the two engines is the 2.4L, Tigershark (love that name) MultiAir with 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque.

The 6-speed manual transmission only comes with the 1.4L engine and the front-wheel drive configuration. Meaning, if you opt for the bigger 2.4L, than you’re going to get a 9-speed automatic. However, you can get the 2.4L engine either with front or all-wheel drive. Another set of choices for you.

Fun fact, it’s the first FIAT to be designed globally and the first FIAT to have AWD.

Here are even more numbers for you!

There are eight wheel choices, 12 exterior hues, and five interior colours.

I had the opportunity to try both engines in the 500X. The 2.4L definitely feels better suited to the size of vehicle.

The X accommodates up to five passengers and offers 524L of cargo room behind the second row seats. Legroom in the back is decent, especially for its small crossover designation.

The 1.4L with the manual isn’t bad, but you can feel the engine working overtime to get up steeper inclines. Though I still love it because it’s a manual!

The drawback, some might encounter, with the 9-speed auto is that there are many gears it has to choose from, so it likes to shift. To placate that characteristic, simply put it in Sport mode. It makes a big difference.

The exterior styling – whether you’re a fan or not – gives this vehicle character. Its interior is also another strong point.

Furthermore, you have the ability to hook the X up with the brand’s Uconnect system and a 165mm (6.5-inch) screen.

A pet peeve of mine on previous FIAT’s was the volume button. A knob has now replaced that. Thank goodness! It wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, but more of a nuisance.

The ride remained comfortable throughout the various environments we drove through, whether on the twisty roads or cruising along at highway speeds.

Additionally, the cabin remains quiet from outside noises, so carrying on a conversation even while accelerating up a hill wasn’t bothersome.

Those in the market that are looking for a small crossover that has style and swagger now have the 2016 FIAT 500X to look at.


Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

“With the expansion this year’s show underwent, the Vancouver show is moving into the big leagues.”
(more…)

“Same-day, back-to-back vehicle category assessments are performed, using both specially prepared evaluation courses and on public roads…” (more…)

Paris, France.

The Paris Auto Show is one of those must-visit events for those of us charged with reporting on the latest and greatest new vehicles.

So many manufacturers now develop products for a world market so these early European shows often offer a glimpse of what’s coming next to our shores.

Here are five machines that caught my eye.

Lamborghini Asterion (more…)

“There are imperfections that drive me crazy but I can’t seem to dislike it…”

The top is down. The sun is shining. It’s not a bad day to be stuck in downtown traffic.

John Legend’s “All of Me” comes on the radio while behind the wheel of the 2014 Fiat 500C. As I wait in the Georgia Street parking lot, I listen intently to the song. Some lyrics of the song are: “Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections.”

As I contemplate this, it applies directly to the pint-sized Fiat I’m captaining.

In fact, there are imperfections about this four-seater that drive me crazy but I can’t seem to dislike it.

One example is the sound that greets you as you enter its cabin. There is nothing melodic about it. No mellifluous ding-dong ding-done; just a harsh monotone noise that seems to stay longer than an uninvited party guest. Even passengers commented on how annoying it is.

The volume buttons on the dash really should be knobs. You should be able to crank up The awesome Beats premium audio system in a hurry, not push by push. (It’s worth the additional $495 price tag.)

Visibility is mediocre at best, especially with the top up. The canvas roof doesn’t allow for great visibility when backing up – top up or down – but thankfully there are backup sensors that help guide you into the spot you want to be in.

The trunk only hosts 269 L. Unless you’re packing light, or just ditching the bags and merely bringing a debit card with you on a road trip, fitting four people inside and their luggage will be a challenge. On the plus side, the drop top doesn’t take away any precious space when open.

Then there’s the optional TomTom navigation that sits atop the dash and cuts into one’s forward visibility. An awkward spot for GPS system. Pairing a Bluetooth device isn’t that straightforward either.

Not to mention, the 500C, with its 1.4L engine and humble 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque isn’t a stable stallion. Despite its lack of power, pressing the Sport button helps it feel a little peppier. The 5-speed manual transmission is hardly a chore, even when I’m just inching along at a snail’s pace.

While its imperfections should cause me to think about ever wanting to drive or own one, I still can’t seem to stop loving this little car. I like its quirkiness and the fact that it’s not perfect.

I love the exterior colour: Espresso. It sparkles in the sun and has a warm richness to it.

When matched with the two-toned leather-trimmed bucket seats, it looks stylish and chic.

Bringing the outside in, the espresso paint also colours to life the dash. Combined with ivory touches, it has an upscale ambiance.

The tester, being the Lounge trim of 500C, it has an MSRP of $23,995.

That comes with keyless entry, a chrome shift knob, leather-wrapped steering wheel (and the aforementioned leather seating surfaces with heated front seats), 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, hill start assist and more.

When not stuck in traffic, the 500C actually remains quiet on the open road, with the top up, of course. It certainly doesn’t handle like its race-primed sibling, the Abarth, but still manages to turn on a dime when required.

It’s also a lovely road companion because imperfections on the road aren’t felt with abrasion or discomfort.

Furthermore, if you want to shed some light on the cabin, there are three settings you can use at the push of a button. One is a sunroof-like option, the next goes about 2/3 of the way down, and the last is all the way down. Either way, you have options on how much Vitamin D you’d like to consume.

I feel like I’m back in grade school, sitting on the grass field at lunch, plucking the petals of a dandelion, one by one, saying, “I love it, I don’t love it, I love it, I don’t love… I LOVE IT!”

Visit www.fiatcanada.com for more information.

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Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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