GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Fiat 500 Sporting

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SPEX

Year: 1998
Class: Subcompact
Type: 3-door hatchback
 
Country: Italy
Host: GT2
 
 
Price: $13,500
 
Length: 126.7" // Width: 58.26" // Height: 56.29"
Wheelbase: 86.6"
Track: ?
Overhang: @3' 4"
Ground Clearance: 5.3"
Weight: 1,620 lbs.
Tires: Pirelli P 700 Z
Brakes: ?
Suspension: lower wishbones / coils / anti-roll bars
 
Engine: 1.1 liter SOHC inline-4
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: ?
Tested HP: 54 @ 5,500 rpm
" Torque:
```64 @ 3,500 rpm
Credits per HP: $250.00
Pounds per HP: 30.00
HP per Liter: ````48.7

Valves per Cyl.: 2
Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000
Bore x Stroke: 2.76 x 2.83"
Compression Ratio: 9.6:1

Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive
 
Transmission: 5-speed manual
 
0-60 mph: 20.3 seconds
0-100mph: N/A

400 M: 22.524 @ 63 mph
1 KM:  41.589 @ 80 mph

Test Track: 2:52.883
 
Top Speed at Redline
1st: 15 mph @ 7,000 rpm
2nd: 28 mph
3rd: 45 mph
4th: 65 mph
5th: 93.61 mph @ 7,000 rpm (RPM limited)
 
 


 


-----------------EXTERIOR------------------

Cinquecento. That apparently means five-hundred (500) in Italian. The Fiat 500 is like a kei car with a bigger engine. Gas prices in Italy were about 5,534.32 lire per gallon around the time that GT2 was cranked out in 1999. Ouch! This converts to just $3.50 here in the states, which is still pretty high. Nowadays (2004), it costs about $5.50 per gallon over there. Double ouch.

At prices like this, it is obvious why the Fiat 500 is such a popular choice in Europe, not to mention the fact that cities like Rome still have streets that were built around the time Leonardo da Vinci was alive. Meandering, narrow, and confusing…this is how we can describe most of Rome. Now, factor in the insanely 'festive' behaviour of Italian drivers, and it all the sudden seems very advantageous to have a smaller car to get thru the mazelike claustrophobia.
 
When it comes down to it, almost all Italian cars are rather small, even Ferraris. But this is no Ferrari! Far from it.
 
One of the finer points of the 500 is that it lives up to its 'sporting' name. It kinda looks sporty & cool. It's also very lightweight, you shouldn't need any weight reductions for your 500 (assuming any of you actually buys one!). The racing body (GT2) looks awesome, with several (eight, I think) color schemes, and an efficient bank of four fog lights on the hood. It makes the 500 look like a rally car, which is ironic because it doesn't do well at any of GT2's sim rallys except maybe the 1st Tahiti Maze.
 
Oddly, the 1998 Fiat 500 Sporting didn't make it into GT4. There are several other Fiat 500s in this game, but they're all older, classic models. Tho lack of power eventually limits this Fiat "Sporting" in some cases, maneuverability makes up for lost time. Now let's get some...uh... power under that hood...
 

----------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

During my acceleration tests, the 500 launched off the starting grid with a yank! The car redlines almost immediately, 1st gear peaks at a bicyclish 15 mph in just 2˝ seconds. In 2nd gear, it reaches 28 mph if redlined. Go go go!
 
After this, the rush quickly dies, and it takes over 20 seconds to hit 60 mph. What happened? Did Fiat secretly install a low-speed NO˛ system? No, it's the gearing; which is really, really short...akin the the lowest gears on a 21-speed mountain bike (the gears that make people look silly when they pedal them). Also, what little torque there is kicks-in early, if not very subtly. Once a racing gearbox is installed (which you will need if you are to take this car seriously), make sure to set 1st gear taller to minimize the ridiculous tire smoke the 500 puffs off the starting line.
 
In real-life driving, the 500 uses this low gearing to its advantage: it can climb the steepest of crappy European streets safely like a mountain goat. If the entire transmission were geared as short 1st, the car would only make it to 75 mph! Thankfully, this is not the case. As I said, it is advisable to get a full-customized gearbox for this car, otherwise it will peak at 94 mph with stock gears, and even less with closer gears. Sorry--this is no Countach, after all.
 
Despite its low power, the 500 Sporting growls like it's got something to say, thanks to lax mediterranean car exhaust standards. It can be modified via turbo in two stages, staight up to 190 hp, which makes this little hot-hatch quite the contender in the Kei-car, Sunday Cup, Clubman Cup, Compact Car Series, Trail Mountain Enduro, and the first two FF races. Even the Apricot Hill Enduro can be yours if the GT40 doesn't appear. That's quite a resumé.
 
Some of the parts for this car are ridiculously expensive, though. Engine balancing costs $10,000, and adds just one horsepower. Port & polishing costs $5,000, but won't make the car stronger unless you get the balancing! So if the 500 is ported without crank balancing, it's like adding zero horsepower. But if both are bought, these services raise stock power from 54 to 56. Pass the syrup, please.

 

-------------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------------

Though this is a fun little machine, it's impossible to have a limitless career in a 500. I've heard stories on the 'net about folks winning the Grand Touring Series and other high-paced events in this little car, but for the purposes of this review (and my sanity), we'll just stick to easier races.
 
Mostly, the 500 handles & maneuvers very tightly, which is pleasing. Bumps will toss it around since it's so light; but it's possible to get around on the car's stock tires if the driver is skilled, even if the engine is at Stage 1. Novice drivers might want to get sport tires early on. If you've got the Stage 2 turbo, racing slicks can be used to control the 4-wheel understeer (aka slides) that occur here and there. The Fiat 500 Sporting will never oversteer, but it will skid easily once some speed is raised.
 
Generally, front brake and suspension settings can be kept light, unless you like brake-dancing. Ha ha, get it? Rear brakes can be set pretty high (like over 15) if you want to induce 'Roversteer' (Rover Mini-like drifting).
 
Alright...enough puns. Here's the breakdown on this Italian pocket-rocket.
 

 


PROS--------------------------------------------------------

1). Low cost.
 
2). Good maneuverability if one can manage to keep some speed up thru corners. Experienced players will never need the best chassis & tires to win races, and beginners will be able to pilot this car easily.
 
3). No oversteer. Understeer & torque-steer can be virtually non-existent if the driver is mildly aware of GT2's physics.
 
4). Engine sounds kinda cool. Rrrrrowl.
 
5). Light weight. Race-kit really rocks.
 
6). Boxy sharp looks.
 
7). Despite its low power, some high-paying enduros can be won in a 500. It actually has quite a few career-possiblities in GT2.
 

CONS------------------------------------------------------

1). Some of those engine mods can only be afforded by the rich...and they don't add much (*ahem*...ANY) power.
 
2). Poor acceleration. The 500 maxes at just 93 mph with stock gearing. 1st gear in particular is way too short!
 
3). Occasional forward sliding. Don't forget your ski poles.
 
4). Not too many races this one will prosper in, especially if you're new to Gran Turismo. Experienced players can get more use out of a 500, though.
 
5). Poor stability at times..mostly due to the fact this car weighs as much as a  can of  sardines.
 
6). Never will the 500 be confused with other FWD speed demons...especially at tracks with long straightaways. 
 


Published: August 20, 2004

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