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2018 Fiat 500: Reinvigorated with a Standard Turbo

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 2/8/2018 JOSEPH CAPPARELLA
2018 Fiat 500: Reinvigorated with a Standard Turbo© JOSEPH CAPPARELLA 2018 Fiat 500: Reinvigorated with a Standard Turbo

In trying to make its diminutive Fiat 500 appeal to Americans, Fiat Chrysler has been throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. After dramatically dropping the price last year, Fiat is now adding horsepower to the entire 2018 500 lineup, making a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder standard equipment on every non-Abarth 500. (The Abarth and the California- and Oregon-only electric 500e continue unchanged.)

This version of the MultiAir engine, previously available in the mid-range Fiat 500 Turbo offered from 2013 to 2016, brings a welcome boost from the discontinued naturally aspirated 1.4-liter’s 101 horsepower to a more robust 135 ponies and 150 lb-ft of torque. Our test of a 2013 500 Turbo revealed a zero-to-60-mph time of 8.1 seconds, a significant 1.7 ticks ahead of a 2017 500C with the wheezy, non-boosted unit. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional, regardless of whether you choose the Pop or Lounge trim level or the hatchback or 500C cabriolet body style.

To complement the extra grunt, all standard 500 models gain 16-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, and a sportier suspension tune—the same tweaks that characterized the 500 Turbo when it was part of the lineup. Visual changes include a body kit, a rear spoiler, fog lights, and a “Turbo” badge at the rear of the car. The now federally mandated backup camera is newly standard, but the interior is otherwise unchanged. Finally, there are three new exterior colors: Brillante Red, Mezzanotte Blue Pearl, and Vesuvio Black Pearl.

Related video: Fiat 500 goes all turbo, provided by Roadshow

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Fiat isn’t announcing pricing just yet, but we presume it will rise noticeably from last year’s dramatically lowered base price of $15,990 for a base Pop model. That price cut failed to stanch the bleeding at Fiat, where sales of the 500 declined by some 3000 units in 2017 to a total of fewer than 13,000 cars, far below the model’s peak of more than 40,000 in 2012. The 2018 Fiat 500 is available to order this month and will arrive at dealers within the next few months.

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