American accent
American accent

The Fiat 500 you can buy here isn't exactly like the ones in Europe. It's been slightly Americanized, both for regulatory reasons and just to accommodate this nation's unique citizenry.

For starters, the American 500 has wider seats.

Second, most of us can't drive stick. Almost all 500s sold in Europe are equipped with stickshift transmissions.

The American 500 is available with a very nice six-speed automatic ginned up just for us. It does have a "manual mode," which allowed me to occasionally downshift. I found myself doing that occasionally to more comfortably take steep hills.

Oh, and we're power hungry. For the American market, the 500 uses a four-cylinder "MultiAir" engine with 101 horsepower. In a car this small, it's more than adequate power without killing fuel economy. More importantly, it gets above the the three digit mark for Americans who would probably avoid a car with two-digit horsepower.

Last updated May 30 2011: 1:08 PM ET
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