Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Five-door Fiat 500 on the way. Will it broaden appeal?

Will a Fiat 500 five-door increase sales in the U.S.?

It wasn't that long ago that if you wanted a hatchback in the U.S., the only five-door model was the VW Golf. Nowadays, it's basically the opposite: Most hatchbacks are five-doors, with the exception of the Toyota Yaris, MINI Cooper, and VW Golf, which are available in both configurations (yeah, the Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ city cars are only three doors, but who asked you anyway?). Then there's the Fiat 500, which is a three-door only. Fiat sold less than 20,000 units in 2011; well short of their goal of 50,000 cars. Now there's news that Fiat is going to debut a five-door 500 at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Will making the 500 just that much bigger solve its sales debacle? Fiat was working on a somewhat larger 500 (thought to be tailor-made for the U.S. market) some time ago. However, as Autoblog said, if it's debuting at Geneva, it's likely for world-wide consumption.

But is it a bad thing? After all, MINI offers two extra doors on its Countryman and suicide-style doors on its Clubman, and all the other cool kids are doing five doors. Maybe it'll help round out the 500 in the States. Then again, perhaps Americans haven't forgotten about the last time Fiat was in the U.S., and are slow to return to the brand? Maybe the 500 is simply too small for most Americans? Maybe the A-segment simply won't make it here like it has in Europe and Asia? Yes, maybe size does matter. (Who doesn't love a good cliche from time to time?) Maybe we'll see an AWD Fiat 500 crossover? 

Some media outlets are already asking the question, "Can A Fiat 500 Station Wagon Save Fiat?" Personally, I think it's too early to ask whether or not Fiat even needs to be saved. I mean c'mon—the car has barely even been on the market a year. Let's give it some time and see what happens. I can't imagine a five-door hurting things, but it could make the little Fiat appeal to more people.


Tony said...

Yeah.. it's called a Fiat Panda ;)

nlpnt said...

It'll help. As I've said before, going into smaller cities in existing Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep stores would help too.

Side note: the Job 2 changes to the Sonic and Fiesta have made it to their official websites. Sonic got two new colors over Christmas vacation (metallic gray and blue) while the Fiesta gets a base hatchback to round out the line.

Andy Lilienthal said...

Tony -- I'd rock a Fiat Panda. I've always liked those. Very capable little things.

nlpnt -- Thanks for the updates.