The Mammoth Fiat 500

Fiat shows off an impressive display for the Fiat 500 at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.

The Fiat 500 is much bigger than we expected.
The Fiat 500 is much bigger than we expected. CNET Networks

Last July we wrote about the new Fiat 500 , a modern take on a classic small car. Walking around the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, we saw it live for the first time, and didn't expect it to be so big. The Fiat 500 towers over the Fiat floor area, and could easily squash a Hummer. We're pretty sure European roads haven't gotten substantially wider, so we don't know what Fiat's engineers were thinking.

Ah, here's the real, actual size Fiat 500.
Ah, here's the real, actual size Fiat 500. CNET Networks

Oh wait, our mistake--the actual Fiat 500 was sitting nearby. The giant Fiat 500 is just a bit of booth dressing, although its pretty impressive. Fiat built a track through the big car, and has actual Fiat 500s pulled along on a slot through the left front wheel well, then out the other side. The real Fiat 500s on display look as good as the press photos.

We especially like the clean interior design. The white dashboard and smooth buttons make it look like an iPod. The navigation unit sits on its own pedestal, and can be removed. Dual-zone climate control is an impressive touch in an economy car. As we fiddled with the controls, we saw that the car also has Bluetooth hands-free cell phone integration, with information about the connection shown on the LED radio display.

The Fiat 500 dash design is as clean as the iPod's.
The Fiat 500 dash design is as clean as the iPod's. CNET Networks

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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