The New Fiat 500 & How to Save $13,000 Dollars (buy a 91-94 Mercury Capri)
Compare to a 1991 Mercury Capri XR2
After 20-odd years, Fiat is returning to the American market. Its entry (via Chrysler) is the cute 2008 Euro car of the year, 500. This is NOT your Fiat X1\9 or Fiat 124 Roadster of the 70's and 80's. Fiat enjoys a bad reputation in America because of their reliability issues and difficulty in finding parts and repair. In California, the smog requirements were too steep then.
The funny thing about this car is its specifications. If you like the 500C for them, then, save $13000 or more and buy a 1991-94 much cooler looking Mercury Capri XR2 turbo. They sell for less than $3000 now. The specs of both cars are very close, yet, the Capri boasts 132 hp. That alone makes it a better and, more importantly, faster car. For a car that has similar specs in most catagories, the car body is opposite. Below are the specs:
Both get 30 to 38 mpg, both have four wheel discs, 16 valve engine. The Capri has a 1.6 L, the Fiat 1.4L. The XR2 has a turbo, the 500, none. Both have a manual 4 or 5 spd. transmission, both fuel injected and have MacPherson struts. The Fiat has only 101 hp at 6500 rpm (translation: the car is very slow in acceleration, much like the Capri non-Turbo models). The Fiat torque is 98 lbs./ft. at 4000 rpm, the XR2, 136 lbs./ft at 6000 rpm. The Fiat accelerates 0-60 in 11 seconds, the XR2, in 9 seconds.
In dimensions, the Fiat wheelbase is 90", the XR2, 95"; Fiat length is 140", XR2, 166". Both have the same front track at 55" and both have the same width at 64". The Fiat is much higher at 59" tall, the XR2, 50" (it is a sport car). Both have the identical amount of legroom at 41", while the XR2 has more hip room @ 53" to the Fiat's 48". Both have similar cargo space. Both cars weigh about the same at 2300 lbs.
So, as you can see, both cars, although 20 yrs apart, are very similar in most aspects, but the older car has much better, peppier performance closer to a early Miata (which had the same engine). As to body style, the 500 will be a "chick" car because it is cute. Well, heck, even here history repeats. When the Capri came out, it was called a "chick" car also because it appealed to women drivers. Finally, they even have the same price new, around $15000.
So, save at least $13,000, find a 91-94 Mercury Capri for less than $3000 now. Enjoy!