annissamazing: It doesn't get much more awesome than Martha Jones (Martha smiles)
A few months ago, Justin and I went to the Fiat dealership up in Strongsville to test out the 500. At the time, the dealership was under construction, but they were taking test drives by appointment. However, the only car they had was a clutch, and neither Justin nor I know how to drive one. We liked the car, but couldn't quite get a feel for it because we never got it up past 25 miles per hour.

Yesterday, we went back up to the dealership to drive some automatic transmission models. The dealership is finished and looks very nice. There were little Fiat 500s everywhere! In all kinds of colors! We drove all three trims: the Pop, the Sport, and the Lounge.

First, we tried the Pop. Honestly, it was nothing special. I took it for a quick lap around the parking lot. One thing I noticed was when I took a sharp corner (and these little cars turn on a dime!), I felt like I was going to slide out of the driver's seat. Not a good feeling.

Next, the salesman pulled around the Lounge. This surprised me because I didn't want to test drive the Lounge. It's the most expensive of the three and I was more interested in the Sport. So I was surprised when it was my favorite of the three. It was a comfortable drive and I didn't feel like I was going to slide out of my seat. The downside is the optional sunroof lowers the roof of the car about 2 or 3 inches, which made both Justin and me hit our heads on the roof every time we tried to shift in our seats.

When we got back to the dealership, they were getting ready to close, but I asked if they wouldn't mind if I took a quick lap around the parking lot in a Sport. One without a sunroof. They let me take it a bit further than the parking lot, so I popped it into sport mode and hit the gas. Honestly, I wasn't impressed. I took it around an industrial park and back. Though the handling was nice, the acceleration wasn't what I was hoping for. I brought it back and when I said that I preferred the Lounge, Justin piped up and said he wanted to drive the Sport. He was gone far longer than I was. When he got back, he gave me the strangest look. I went to see what was up and as I got closer to the car, I began to smell something unpleasant. I walked up to his window and said, "You must've had fun. I can smell the car." He laughed and told me he'd tell me about it later.

After the test drive, we went to an Italian restaurant just down the street from the dealership and he told me that he was doing donuts and J-turns in some parking lot and nearly set the brake calipers on fire. He's in love with the Sport. Totally in love with it.

We told our salesman that we'll make a decision in 90 days or so (which is when we'll find out whether or not that promotion to assistant store manager will actually happen). Justin wants to custom-design the car, though he's well aware that I will likely take it from him and give him my Nitro.

It just makes sense for me to take the little car with good gas mileage to and from Kent when Justin's going to be so much closer to home. Gas is expensive!

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that when we got to the dealership, they were playing the classic Doctor Who theme over their sound system! Hee!!
annissamazing: Ten's red Chucks (Me)
You know what? The jury's still out on this one. I liked what I saw and I liked how it felt, but I wasn't able to get a good idea of how the car drives because they only had a manual shift vehicle to drive and I don't know how to drive a manual. However, I had a great experience and I'm still pretty excited about this car.

When we talked to the salesman at the auto show, he told us that they only had a manual, but that he was willing to give us driving lessons. So that's what we did tonight. I'm now able to get from point A to point B without killing the engine, though I lack finesse. Unfortunately, I didn't feel comfortable enough to take it onto streets that had other cars on them. We've given the salesman our email and phone number so he can contact us when he gets an automatic transmission model on the lot. I'm willing to learn to drive a manual, but Justin insists on an automatic.

The interior was better designed than most of the models I've driven. The controls are large and contoured so they're easy to find without taking your eyes off the road. The test car we drove tonight was equipped with a BOSE sound system that sounded incredible. It has a USB iPod dock so I can stash my iPod in the glove box and use the car's controls to choose songs I want to hear.

The car is tiny, but there was plenty of room in the front for Justin even when I was seated comfortably in the back. The interior feels a lot like a more upscale MINI Cooper, but there is more room behind the back seats. I'll never be able to haul lumber, but there is plenty of room for my weekly shopping.

Fuel economy for a manual transmission is 30/38, which falls short of the mileage offered by other small cars, but is far superior to my Dodge Nitro or my favorite car of all time, the Volvo C30.

I was particularly impressed with our salesman, though. The dealership isn't actually open yet. It's still under construction. He's keeping us in the loop as the dealership comes together and will let us know when the first 500s arrive. The salesman obviously felt very passionately about Fiat and I always get a kick out of that.

However, I didn't agree with him on the looks of the car. He called it "beautiful," and insisted that when people first see it, their thoughts are always, "perfectly in proportion." I know that some designer has put a lot of thought into the design of this vehicle and he likely used the 1/3 proportions the salesman insisted were used throughout the vehicle, but, honestly, I don't think it's a beautiful car, and I didn't marvel at its proportions.

Eventually, I said this out loud, mostly because I couldn't smile and nod while he talked about how gorgeous it is. And even though I told him I didn't think it was beautiful, I also told him honestly that I thought it was a very striking car and that I liked how the design recalls the original design of the 500. It strikes me as very practical and not at all trendy.

He looked relieved and said, "For a moment, I thought you were going to call it cute."

I looked back at the car and said, "No, it's definitely not a cute car. It's distinctive, and I like that."

Justin disagrees with me. I believe he called it "hot as hell." It takes all kinds, I guess.

The Fiat 500 starts at $15,500. Equipped the way Justin and I want it, it will be $18,300. It's not a bad price for a car, though it is a bit more than I want to spend for such a little one.

We're still going to check out the Mazda 2 and Justin also wants to look at the Mazda 3, which I've already test driven and liked quite a lot.

Ok, it looks sorta hot in this pic. Hotter than reality, anyway.

This would be an excellent picture if it weren't for the terrible color scheme. Justin and I are leaning towards a dark brown/cream interior.
annissamazing: Ten's red Chucks (Default)
I have a really hard time getting out of bed when my alarm goes off at 5:00 in the morning, so I usually listen to NPR for 15 - 20 minutes before hitting the shower. This morning there was a fairly long segment regarding an agreement between Fiat and Chrysler. I was only half conscious when I was listening to it so I looked it up on Wikipedia just now.

From Wikipedia, "On 20 January 2009, Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler LLC announced that they are going to form a global alliance. Under the terms of the agreement, Fiat takes a 35% stake in Chrysler and gains access to its North American dealer network in exchange for providing Chrysler with the platform to build smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the US and reciprocal access to Fiat's global distribution network.[23][24]

"The new equity holder would have the option of increasing that to as much as 55%. Fiat, the stronger of the two, wouldn't immediately put cash into Chrysler. Instead it would obtain its stake mainly in exchange for covering the cost of retooling a Chrysler plant to produce one or more Fiat models to be sold in the U.S. Fiat would also provide engine and transmission technology to help Chrysler introduce new, fuel-efficient small cars."

I find this news very exciting for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, they would retool at least one Chrysler plant here in the U.S. to produce Fiat models. This is good news for blue collar auto workers.

Secondly, this is good news for car dealerships that would sell vehicles people might actually buy.

Justin's dealership deals mainly in Chrysler products and also sells used cars. I'm a little nervous about his job since Chrysler is the weakest of the Big 3. Fiat may not be highly regarded in the world market, but I hope they can inject enough life into Chrysler to keep it going.

I'm totally test driving the Fiat 500 if it ever comes to the U.S. It is, perhaps, not the most attractive car with it's beady little headlights and rear bumper that juts out from the lines of the sloping tailgate like an underbite. But everyone seems to rave about this little car and I can't wait to try it for myself.


annissamazing: Ten's red Chucks (Default)

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