Today's Rave: Fiat 500 manual transmission

Today's Rave: Fiat 500 manual transmission

I want to own a manual transmission car. The next car I buy will, in fact, be of the stick shift variety. The fear in Chicago, however, is always getting stuck in traffic and the ensuing Charlie horse from all that clutch punching.

But I have to admit, I found absolutely nothing wrong with the MT in the 2012 Fiat 500. The clutch was great for an every-day driver ... and an every-day commute on the Kennedy. The gearing was smooth. And I could coast in traffic at 5 or 10 mph in second gear without any shuddering or fear of stalling. It was, in a word, perfect.

My other fave with this MT: Hill start assist. Not too many hills in Chicago, but I did get stuck on a couple of inclined on ramps. And the hill start assist was perfect. Take your foot off the clutch and no immediate backward roll occurred. Usually you don't see this feature until you start spending more than $30K on a car. Nice to see it on a car that bases at $15,500.

Yet another reason with the Fiat 500 rates a perfect 10 on the Chicago-worthy scale.


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  • Alterman has his campaign to "bring back the clutch" but I wonder if the "automated manual" is going to become standard issue in a few years.

    Of course, one also has to wonder whether the "hill start assist" will end up grinding the clutch.

  • @ Jack. Hill start assist keeps the brakes applied for 1 to 2 seconds after you remove your foot from the brake pedal to the throttle pedal when on a grade of about 5ยบ or more and shouldn't cause any increase in clutch wear.

  • Oh, so it's a another name for "torque braking for the 0 to 60 test" instead of keeping the clutch engaged to keep the car from rolling.

    However, from what PJ O'Rourke indicated (and he is no longer funny), that wouldn't have much effect on this car's 0 to 60.

  • PJ O'Rouke hasn't been the slightest bit witty since even before he was at Rolling Stone.

    Top Gear did a Fiat 500 segme.nt in which they drove through a town, and the whole place was nothing but Fiat 500s. The segment was a small mini that WASN'T the 500 - that's how dominant that car is over there.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    Here's the TG clip:

  • Nick Mason of Pink Floyd goes on about the 500:

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