Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge car test drives reviews fiat
Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge car test drives reviews fiat
Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge car test drives reviews fiat
2012 Fiat 500 Lounge. Click image to enlarge

The front seats have prominent thigh and side bolsters for support when cornering and optional seat heaters for cold mornings, however these heaters have only one temperature choice. The driver’s seat has a manually operated height adjuster which pushes the seat forward and up rather than straight up which can require the driver to readjust the seat fore or aft. The driver’s seat also has a handy folding inboard armrest for long drives, and the shift lever is mounted high on the centre console within easy reach of the driver.

Two things I didn’t like about the 500’s driving position were the slight forward inclination of the steering wheel and the lack of telescopic adjustment. With the steering wheel in the right position for my arms, I found the pedals were too close.

The 500’s all-in-one instrument gauge includes a speedometer, tachometer and a trip computer backlit in a reddish-orange colour. The latter displays a fuel gauge, coolant temperature, average fuel economy, odometer, gear indicator, clock, and outside temperature, but I found some of the numerals difficult to read at a glance from the driver’s seat.

In the centre console, all the controls are pushbuttons – there are no dials. This makes the radio and heater more difficult to adjust, but it certainly looks better! Imported from Chrysler are handy radio volume and station select buttons on the back of the steering wheel spokes where they can be reached easily while driving. The radio face-plate includes a red backlit display which shows the name of the song being played and the artist. USB and auxiliary inputs can be found hiding in the passenger-side glovebox, and there is a handy mesh holder there for your iPod. The standard Bose premium audio system with six Bose speakers provides nicely balanced surround sound and I enjoyed the standard Sirius satellite radio which comes with a free 1-year subscription in the 500.

“Blue&Me” hands-free telephone is standard on all Fiat 500 models, but a Tom Tom navigation system with 4.3-inch screen and integrated “Blue&Me” is optional for $495, which seems like a pretty good price for the navi.

Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge car test drives reviews fiat
Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge car test drives reviews fiat
2012 Fiat 500 Lounge. Click image to enlarge

The heater temperature and fan speed functions have separate red backlit displays for easy viewing at night, and Lounge models include standard one-zone automatic climate control. All Fiat 500s include three cupholders between the front seats and two more at the back of the centre console.

Lounge models come with a standard fixed tinted glass sunroof with a sliding sunshade, but even when closed, this perforated sunshade lets in some annoying sunlight. A power glass sunroof with sliding sunshade is available as a $500 option.

The 500’s trunk, though small, is a decent size for such a small car and the hatch opening is huge. The 50/50 split rear seatbacks fold down, but they’re not quite level with the trunk surface. Still, that doubles or triples the amount of cargo volume.

All 2012 Fiat 500s come with a standard 3 year/60,000 km warranty, 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, and 4 year/unlimited km roadside assistance coverage.

Verdict

The Fiat 500’s retro styling is so appealing you can almost forgive it for its cramped rear seats, unconventional controls, and unusual driving position.

Pricing: 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge
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