|Introduction of the 2012 Fiat 500 at LA. Click to enlarge.|
The 2012 Fiat 500 made its US debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show this past week. The four-passenger A-segment car features a new fuel-efficient 1.4-liter MultiAir (earlier post) engine and offers a new six-speed automatic transmission as well as interactive driving software and Blue & Me Handsfree Communication technology. Pricing starts at $15,500. EPA fuel economy ratings are not yet released.
The 1.4-liter engine features four valves per cylinder and is the first mass-production engine for the North American market to incorporate Fiat’s Fully Variable Valve Actuation (FVVA) (MultiAir). With cylinder-by-cylinder, stroke-by-stoke direct air intake control and without a throttle valve, MultiAir technology cuts fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10%, while obtaining 10% more power and 15% more torque when compared with similar engines not equipped with the system. The engine delivers 101 horsepower (75 kW) at 6,500 rpm and 98 lb-ft (133 N•m) of torque at 4,000 rpm.
The MultiAir technology is currently available outside of North America on these other Fiat vehicles: Abarth Punto Evo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 165 HP; Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 MultiAir 105 HP and 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 135 HP and 170 HP; Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 Multiair Turbo 170 HP; Lancia Delta 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140 HP; Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 85 HP; Fiat Bravo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 140 HP; and Fiat Punto Evo 1.4 MultiAir 105 HP and 1.4 MultiAir Turbo 135 HP.
The new 2012 Fiat 500 offers two transmissions for the North American market. Exclusively available for the North American market, the new six-speed automatic transmission provides the new Fiat 500 with smooth shifting and excellent fuel economy. The transmission allows for driver-selectable gear changes. Should the driver select ‘Sport’ mode by pressing the button on the instrument panel, the transmission’s shift schedule and the steering response are automatically adjusted to provide even more sporty driving dynamics.
An upgraded five-speed manual transmission features new gear ratios for the US market, improving fuel efficiency and acceleration. A new self-adjusting hydraulic-clutch system is standard with this transmission, benefiting drivers with consistent pedal efforts over the life of the clutch and virtually maintenance-free operation. Selecting ‘Sport’ mode with the manual transmission calibrates the pedal-to-throttle relation and the steering response to add greater driving enjoyment.
Key adaptations of the 500 for the North American market include:
- Redesigned body structure for increased strength
- Exclusively tailored suspension for the US market to keep the Fiat 500 nimble while delivering a comfortable and quiet interior cabin for highway driving;
- More than 20 specific hardware modifications/additions for improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH);
- New four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system (ABS) with redesigned front calipers for optimum brake performance;
- Larger 10.5-gallon fuel tank for extended driving range;
- Upgraded heating and cooling system for North American climate extremes; and
- New steering wheel controls and revised steering effort calibration to increase stability at highway speed (against crosswinds).
The new 2012 Fiat 500 features an all-new air bag system; its seven standard air bags include: driver and multi-stage front-passenger advanced air bags, driver’s knee bag, full-length side-curtain air bags and standard seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax air bags, to offer enhanced protection to all occupants in the event of a collision.
Reactive head restraints that activate during a rear impact are another innovation helping to minimize injuries by reducing the gap between the head restraint and a passenger’s head.
The new 2012 Fiat 500’s interactive driving technology system collects all necessary data relating to vehicle efficiency and, through the Blue & Me USB port, transmits it onto any USB memory stick. Once the driver plugs the memory stick into his or her personal computer, the system presents drivers with the Fiat 500’s detailed environmental performance including the CO2 emission level for each trip. In addition, it analyzes each driver’s style and provides recommendations on how to modify their driving styles to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Chrysler Group LLC is engineering and plans to produce a battery electric vehicle using the Fiat 500 platform in 2012; the Fiat 500 EV was previewed earlier this year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show. (Earlier post.) SB LiMotive, the 50:50 joint venture of Samsung SDI and Bosch formed in 2008, is providing the battery pack. (Earlier post.)