out of 10
The 2012 Fiat 500 is no stranger to the enthusiast. We've been waiting for it for years. But now that it's finally here, is it worth the wait? Mostly, yes. It's a stylish, fun-to-drive, efficient and modern little car--but it leaves a little to be desired as yet. Accordingly, MotorAuthority rates it 6 out of 10.

Don't get us wrong. The 2012 Fiat 500 has a lot going for it, particularly as a much more attractive, entertaining, and, in many ways, refined, alternative to the current American and Asian minicar competition. Where it comes up short is where it matters most to the enthusiast, and that's why we downgrade it a bit.

Performance, first and foremost, is a very mixed bag. In one hand, it's a light, surprisingly nimble, and well-balanced chassis. On the other, the steering is beyond dreadful in its lack of feel. We'd even go so far as to say it is the least-connected car we've driven this year, particularly once you push the pace past six or seven tenths. Approach a full ten-tenths run and you probably won't again. It's not rewarding, it's hard to predict, and it just isn't enjoyable at the limit. The brakes are really quite good, though.

Around town, in easier driving, it's a different story. The Fiat 500 has enough pep to be fun, flowing easily with traffic for the most part, and even handling interstate romps pretty well. It's handy, can be parked almost anywhere, and it's really, very cute. It will get noticed.

You'll notice its efficient little 101-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder at the pump, too. Rated at 40 mpg, it's not very thirsty even for the modern crop of minicars, and with the economy as uncertain as ever and everyday gas prices over $3 per gallon, that's something you can bank on.

Inside, it's mostly good news, though that rear seat is little more than lip service for the average American. Set your packages back there and resolve yourself to owning a two-seater. The front seats aren't much better, with those of us over six feet likely to feel the tall roof looming near above our heads, thanks to the high seats. The hatch area is likewise very small. But hey, this is a subcompact. Spaces are going to be tight. The materials, on the other hand, are mostly good, and the colorful, clever cabin design is refreshing in a way that doesn't feel like it'll be dated by next spring.

There are many more pluses and minuses to the 2012 Fiat 500. To get them all, read the full review at TheCarConnection.

UPDATEFiat 500 Abarth To Tackle Targa Newfoundland: Video

The Fiat 500 Abarth seeks to prove its sporting cred at the 2012 Targa Newfoundland. Read Update

UPDATEThe 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Revisits Jay Leno's Garage

Fiat brings a 2012 500 Abarth to Jay Leno's Garage for a test drive. Read Update

UPDATEAbarth 695 Tributo Maserati: 2012 Geneva Motor Show Preview

The Fiat 500 gets another special limited-edition Abarth treatment at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, this time as a tribute to Maserati. Read Update

UPDATEFiat Prices The 2012 500 Abarth From $22,000

Fiat's eagerly awaited hot hatch, the 500 Abarth, will be priced from a reasonable $22,000 in the U.S. market. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Fiat 500 Gets Contradictory Safety Ratings

The 2012 Fiat 500 has received a "Top Safety Pick" from the IIHS, but only a three star rating under new NHTSA crash-testing guidelines. Read Update

UPDATEFiat's 'Seduction' Ad Gets A Pop Up Video Rework

Fiat's "Seduction" ad for the 500 Abarth has proven popular enough to get its own Pop Up Video spot on VH1. Read Update

UPDATEThe 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Comes To Jay Leno's Garage: Video

Fiat's vehicle line executive, Joe Grace, brings a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth by Jay Leno's Garage for a walk-around tour. Read Update

UPDATEAnother Fiat 500, Another J-Lo Ad: Video

A new Jennifer Lopez ad shows the Gucci Edition Fiat 500. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Ad Makes Us Yearn For A Test Drive: Video

Fiat's latest ad for the new, U.S.-spec 500 Abarth may not make it to television, but it's worth watching anyway. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Live Photos: Los Angeles Auto Show

Fiat unveiled the "small but wicked" 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth to the U.S. today at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Read Update

UPDATE2012 Fiat 500 Abarth: 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show

The sporty new 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is scheduled to go on sale in the first half of next year where it will join the regular 500 hatch and 500 Cabrio drop-top. Read Update

UPDATEFiat Teases The U.S.-Spec 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth: Video

Fiat is close to launching the U.S. spec Fiat 500 Abarth, and this first teaser video tries to position the car as a rebel and a bad boy. Read Update

Specs: Select a Trim

Style MSRP Invoice MPG City MPG Hwy

© 2017 MotorAuthority. All Rights Reserved. MotorAuthority is published by Internet Brands Automotive Group. Stock photography by izmostock. Read our Cookie Policy.