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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Fiat 500 at the 2010 LA Auto Show: A reader's report

We have the good fortune of having a reader write in and report on the LA Auto Show's Fiat display. The reader with the user name of Peterjerome has written in on this blog numerous times and has contributed a lot of thoughtful, interesting comments so I want to thank him for that and also for taking the time to write up this report.

Hi Chris
My wife and I went to LA for opening day of the car show. As you can see from the photos, the FIAT display was very innovative. It was something of a large red and white tube. To enter you passed three 500s; a Pop, Sport, and Lounge. Behind them was a classic 500 that was garnering a fair bit of attention itself.

The three modern cars were the real deal. You could sit in them, open hatches and adjust seats. The new seats seem comfy on first sit. They do fill the snug cabin a bit though. The sun roof that was on the Sport and fixed glass roof on the Lounge went a ways to open up the interior space.

The locals that were at the show were smitten by the 500. They were impressed with the comfort and safety equipment, and the warranty went a long way to calm their concerns with reliability. Like me, they kept stepping back and looking at the shape of the car.

Most of the interest seemed to come from the 40 to 50 something crowd. Every conversation I struck up got around to the subject of what value these cars represent compared to the MINI. In Canada, the starting prices differ by seven thousand dollars. Most observers preferred the interior of the 500 to that of the MINI as well.

The Sport model on show was red. The wheel /tire combination adds to a very attractive package. Supposedly the Sport has a modified suspension. I think the other models are softened a bit for North America and the Sport sports the European stock settings. It would be the one for me if the Abarth wasn't coming. The body colours and interior materials display that will be in the dealers is awesome.

If there were any disappointments it was that the display was somewhat hidden in the large hall. Also, the woman giving the monologue was really having a hard time with it. This was annoying considering the amount of information that people need to learn about this car. My wife said that I could have done a better job. I reminded her that FIAT is from Italy where sex still sells. She agreed that the white dress was getting more attention than the flaws in her speech.

In a nutshell, the 500 is worth the wait. When you see it live you will know what I mean.

Thanks again Peterjerome for sending us that!


James Bong said...

Be happy with what you got. At the San Francisco auto show, all we got was two cars hidden behind the Chrysler display. We almost missed it. There was no representative there and no information handouts.

Ken said...

I agree. I knew more than the "representatives" (aka; eye candy girls). Not even a info pamphlet or dispay of options, such as what LA offered. 2 cars, 1 tan, 1 orange and that's it. Heck some 16yr old kid broke the seat adjuster handle (rep said so) and I couldn't adjust the seat to see how I fit into the Sport model. FIAT needed to put some more into the SF show. It seemed like an after thought.
This better not be a prelude to the future of FIAT USA. It makes me less happy to know that I have to pay a premium to have one of the first 500.

Anonymous said...

We saw them in LA this weekend. I think I want one! I've had a MINI for a while, and they remind me of what I liked about MINI (before the Countryman), a simple, well-designed small car. My only negative comment was that the plastic door and dash panels were really scratched up. It made it look pretty cheap.

Anonymous said...

Was at the Cocktail Party. Likely the "Tan" car was the same "Mocha Lattee" Sport that was there and the Orange one was the Lounge. Please remember the "Prima Edizione" you are worried about having to pay a "premium" for includes destination charges and about $1,500 in options on the Sport that starts at $17,500 will have unique touches still not yet out in print. I had the pleasure of having Ms. Soave's assistant spend about 15 min going over the "Mocha Latte" car at the cocktail party with me. I almost made him late to the cake unvailing. Remember the "Prima Edizione" will be a sought after car so if you pass on your reservation there are others waiting in line. I got my crack at it and I'm not passing for sure!

Anonymous said...

I have a strong feeling this will be a cult car and wont generate the excitement and status and HUGE sales of the mini when it was introduced here. i had a red fiat 850 coupe when it was introduced in the 60s in the u,s, cook car but fell apart quickly as i recall. the 500 has a cute look but is probably cheaply made. it'll be interesting to see what happens when and if iot actually gets sold here. is any date set yet?