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July 11th, 2007

Photos by Mario Marchesini text by Lorenzo Marchesini.

On July the 4th, 2007, the embankments of the river Po in Turin became the launching pad for the rebirth of the Fiat 500. The date was carefully selected by Fiat’s top management to coincide with the day of presentation 50 years earlier of the famous Nuova 500, the little miracle car that motorized Italy from 1957 to the early 1970s.

This kind of attention is usually reserved for new Ferraris. Copyright Mario Marchesini.

According to Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat , “The 500 represents the new Fiat motorcar company, a solid enterprise, one with a focus on the future, strong of values that will guide it. The new 500 is our new business card! On July the 11th the Fiat motorcar company celebrates its 108th birthday; we consider the new car our traveling representative and the best way to celebrate this anniversary in style.”

Improving market share
The new car required an investment of 300 million Euros (about 400 million US$). It will be produced in the Fiat Poland factory at Tilchy to the tune of 120,000 such vehicles per year. This year Fiat intends to produce 65 to 70 thousand units of which 30,000 have already be sold. In case demand for the latest version of the 500 will exceed the production capacity at Tilchy, Fiat will built a completely new plant, location still to be determined.

Fiat has great plans and hopes to expand its lead in Europe, where it is extremely competitive with the 500, the 600 and the Panda. Sales should reach by the year 2010 the value of 70 billion Euros, with an operating profit of 5 billion, or about 100 times that of 2007. Debt has recently been reduced by about 10 billion Euros and the share value has quadrupled since the beginning of the year 2007. The objective is to gain two spots in the ranking of European and worldwide car manufacturers. Fiat management is very confident that it can do the job, as Marchionne states: “Our quality has improved considerably and can now be considered at a higher level than that of our Japanese competitors who until now were the leaders of the pack of auto makers.”

A quick look at the new 500
The new Fiat 500 is Italian engineering at its best, and thus engineered with a passion and is definitively love at first sight. The cars exterior resembles that of the old Nuova 500 that was introduced in 1957. The retro styling is executed to perfection, even more so than that of the BMW Minis or Volkswagen Beetle. The design is fresh but with plenty of elegant clues to it predecessor. Fiat has done what many thought would be impossible and is so confident that the car comes with as standard warrantee 5 years or 500,000 kms ( 300,000 plus miles!). The car can be purchased 500 Euro cents (5 Euros) per day!

Interior is far more luxurious than the original. Copyright Mario Marchesini.

In the cockpit, we find that the steering wheel is placed in an optimal position thanks to in-depth ergonomic research. The stickshift (no automatic transmission thus far) is well placed, as the pedals. The seats are firm, very comfortable and supportive.

There are six engine options, all under 1.4 liters. Copyright Mario Marchesini.

The 1.4 (1400 cc) fuel version and the multijet diesel is ideal for city traffic as well as the highways. The engines are small in displacement but strong and all are conform Euro 5, a legislation that will become effective in the year 2009. Fuel consumption ranges between 35-45 miles per gallon, depending on engine.

Road holding is exceptional, brakes are extremely effective. In short this new 500 is a car that measures up very well even with the more prestigious cars. The car evokes memories of the days of the Abarths but in a more comfortable style of the luxo-cruisers.

Since the engine and drivetrain are now up front, there is room at the rear for luggage and or packages. Copyright Mario Marchesini.

The car sits 2 adults and 2 children very comfortably, and luggage space is sufficient. Fit and finish, even in this early production run, is spectacular; the sound at the closing of the door reminds us of the Lancia Favias if not the Flaminias! The new 500 comes in 500 different color combinations/versions/options.

A perfect car for parking, Italian style. Copyright Mario Marchesini.

The Honorable Mr. Carlo Manferrari who sold the author a brand new white FIAT 500 forty years ago. He was demonstrating the new 500 in these photos. Mr. Manferrari can now provide anybody withe the lastest FIAT 500 (as well as a Ferrari). Copyright Mario Marchesini.

Prices in Italy
1.2 fuel 69 HP Pop version, Euro 10,500 (about US$ 14,000), tax included.
1.2 fuel 69 HP Sport and Lounge, Euro 12,500 (about US$ 15,500), tax included.
1.4 fuel 100 HP Pop version, Euro 12,500 (about US$ 15,500), tax included.
1.4 fuel 100 HP Sport and Lounge, Euro 14,500 (about US$ 17,000), tax included.
1.3 diesel Mjt 75 HP Pop version, Euro 12,500 (about US$ 15,500), tax included.
1.3 diesel Mjt 75 HP Sport and Lounge, Euro 14,500 (about US$ 17,000), tax included.

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