Fiat Is Rude As Hell for Bringing the Europe-Only 500 to the NY Auto Show – Roadshow

They’re so cute!

Daniel Golson/CNET

The New York Auto Show was bleak this year, with many major automakers not in attendance and pretty much every new debut just a facelift of an existing model. But in the corner of the Stellantis stand there were two shining rays of light: A pair of new Fiat 500s. The only catch is, the 500 is only sold in Europe and won’t come to the US. What the hell, Fiat?

The new 500 was unveiled in March 2020 right as the pandemic was wreaking havoc on the auto industry (and the world), so this was my first time really getting to see and experience one in person. And man is it good. A ground-up redesign with a fully electric powertrain, the new 500 manages to look way more modern and upscale while still remaining as chic and retro as it should. Its interior is so much nicer than the previous 500, with an improved infotainment system, higher-end materials and some clever details.

The three-plus-one model gets a tiny suicide door.

Daniel Golson/CNET

Both hardtop and cabrio models were on display at the show, with the hatch painted in a beautiful rose gold and the convertible one of the Project Red special editions. But it was the hardtop that really grabbed my attention, because the new three-plus-one model adds a tiny suicide door to the passenger side of the car. Despite its small size, the addition of that extra door and the lack of a B-pillar makes it far easier to get into the 500’s back seat.

Stellantis doesn’t really have an explanation for why these 500s were at the auto show. It seems like the cars were already brought over to the US for CES earlier this year, where Stellantis showed off its global electrification efforts, and the company just decided to bring them to New York to have something on the stand. There are info sheets in the windshields that talk all about the car, and they only have one sentence in a very small font about how the 500 isn’t available in the US.

Making the presence of the 500s even more annoying is the state of the Fiat brand in general. With the discontinuation of the 500, 500L and 124 Spider, the only Fiat sold in the US is the 500X crossover, which is now eight years old and not good at all. (It has a cool new Yachting trim with a rollback roof, at least.) With the death of the BMW i3 and Fiat’s main competitor Mini going fully electric, I think there’s definitely a market for the new 500 in the US, even if it would need to wear a more premium price tag. Seeing the cars at the auto show just made me even sadder and madder that it won’t happen.

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