2013 Fiat 500 Turbo
2013 Fiat 500 Turbo. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website
Fiat Canada

Review and photos by Justin Mastine-Frost

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2013 Fiat 500 Turbo

My relationship with Fiat since its return to the North America, albeit brief, has been an interesting one so far. On paper these darling little tin cans seem like a refreshing twist on the entry-level city car, however with every testing attempt I always seemed to come away wanting more. With the base-trim Fiat 500 Pop the automatic gearbox stole away with what little power its engine had in the first place and its fun-and-funky white and red interior would have been better suited to a 16-year old girl. Once I moved up to the Abarth, performance definitely improved but the $11,000 price jump over the base model that paid for (among other things) fancy scorpion decals, a useless boost gauge and a shift light that liked to come on after I bounced off the rev-limiter a few times, well you can see where I’m going with this. When word finally came of a more reasonably priced Fiat 500 Turbo I couldn’t help but be optimistic that this would finally be the Fiat to win me over.

I’m a firm believer in first impressions, and thankfully for Fiat the 500 Turbo gets off to a good start. Although some of the changes are subtle when compared to the base model, the Turbo definitely carries a more sporting presence. From its blacked-out head and taillight surrounds to its aggressively styled bumper, side skirts, and rear diffuser, it’s easy to tell that Fiat went out of its way to shake off a bit of that “cutesy” brand image. All in all, the exterior package works quite well. Unlike the previously mentioned Abarth, the Turbo hits all the necessary style points to draw in an enthusiast crowd without being loud or over the top. This was exactly the kind of tweaking the car needed in order to go after potential Mini Cooper S shoppers, at least in the visual department.

2013 Fiat 500 Turbo2013 Fiat 500 Turbo2013 Fiat 500 Turbo
2013 Fiat 500 Turbo. Click image to enlarge

Moving into the passenger cabin, the changes are even less noticeable. Aside from a leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, which are quite nice, the interior is more or less identical to that of the entry level Fiat 500 Sport. My tester was equipped with the optional Automatic Temperature Control ($195), which gives the centre stack a much cleaner look than the basic control knobs. As with every other version of the 500, the Turbo has Fiat’s brilliant hidden steering wheel buttons. Rather than loading up the steering wheel with so many buttons that it looks like a video game controller (Thanks Ford and Acura), Fiat got sneaky and hid menu and volume controls behind the three and nine o’clock positions on the wheel. These buttons may seem a bit tricky to use at first, but before too long their operation becomes second nature. Thanks to the optional Beats Audio premium sound system ($995) there’s no issue with hitting that volume-up button a few extra times to get your groove on as you hit the road.

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