The 2012 Fiat 500 can be viewed as this decade’s Mini: a small, clever, retro-styled minicar that’s appealing, cheeky, fun to drive, and adds a dose of brio to a category often drenched in grim. And like the Mini, the 500 offers a relatively low starting price that buyers can come close to doubling if they’re heavy-handed on the options list that lets them “personalize” their 500s.
The Fiat 500 comes as a three-door hatchback or a two-door Cabriolet (known as the 500C). The latter is an open-air model with a power retractable cloth roof that’s one of the neatest pieces of small-scale engineering we’ve seen. The roof rolls back on rails to several positions, one half-open, one fully-open but with the rear window in place, and one all the way lowered with the top stacked just above the trunk lid.
But anyone expecting the 2012 Fiat 500 to return truly stellar gas mileage numbers is in for a bit of disappointment. It’s rated at 30 mpg city,...
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