My former employer acquired a Fiat franchise over a year ago. My old coworkers let me take a preproduction Fiat 500 model for a spin and I was really impressed with how nice the car really is. I think Fiat made a good decision to bring the car here to the US, and to sell it through existing Chrysler dealers who committed to build a Fiat “Studio,” a showroom designed by Fiat that is more similar to a clothing boutique than a traditional car dealership showroom.
So far, the 500 has done pretty well, considering it launched with little marketing support and with many of its dealers still readying their stores to open. There’s no question that for Fiat to grow in the US, they will need to add additional product to flesh out the lineup.
Right now, Fiat offers a three-door and convertible 500, and the 500 Abarth (a high performance variant) will launch soon. While the Abarth will serve Fiat well as a ‘halo car,’ the real volume will come from the 500L, shown for the first time at the Geneva Auto Show this year. You can see by the video above, this is a much larger vehicle than the 500. It is similar in proportions and size to MINI’s Countryman but should be priced considerably less, if Fiat holds true to keeping its vehicles priced lower than similar MINI vehicles.
With gas prices heading well north of $4 a gallon in most parts of the country now, and $5 gas a strong possibility in the spring, cars like the 500L can’t come soon enough.