By Paul Borden - May 30th , 2013

About 45 members and guests gathered at Studio 743 in Miami Beach May 30 for SAMA’s monthly luncheon and were treated to a preview of the high-performance Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio, the all-new Fiat 500L and the new electric Fiat 500e.

And there was a bonus.

“There is a no-compromise 500 electric outside that you should take for a spin,” Matt Davis, head of Fiat’s Product Marketing, said to begin his presentation. “Zero-to-60 in nine seconds. Instant gratification -- 111 horsepower, 147 foot-pounds of torque.

“If you have not driven an electric car, and even if you have, you should drive this car.”

When it came to designing the 500e, Davis said, Fiat’s engineers went beyond merely trying to maximize the range of the all-electric vehicle, which is the primary goal in the segment.

“We wanted to be a 500 first and an electric car second,” was the message given to the engineers, Davis said, “and they have delivered that.”

The electric power train offers a range of about 87 miles but also has a regenerative brake system that can boost that figure into triple digits when driving in the city with its frequent stops and starts, he said.

The 500L was built in response to those potential customers who acknowledged they loved Fiat’s Italian design and the car overall, but simply wanted a larger vehicle. Even though it looks pretty much the same as the standard 500, the 500L offers 40 percent more interior space and comfortably seats five.

“You really don’t do it justice until you sit inside the car,” Davis said.

The top-of-the-line 500 Abarth Cabrio, which will be included in SAMA’s Topless in Miami competition on June 6, is pretty much the same as the performance-oriented Abarth that hit the market last year, but with a convertible top.

“When you take the top away, a lot of companies tend to lose the driving dynamic of the car,” Davis said. “It becomes loose. In order to overcome that, you have to add a whole lot of weight.

“But given the way that our car is shaped and the design of Cabrio, we added only 33 more pounds and still maintained its driving dynamic.”

SAMA wants to thank Fiat for sponsoring our May event and to Davis for his presentation. It was great to have Lisa Barrow and Ariel Gavilan back in town!

After lunch, a brief business session was conducted to go over some of the details of the upcoming Topless in Miami.

Paul Borden, event chairman, asked members to be at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, to be briefed on the day’s procedures.

Though the schedule will be largely the same as the last two years (see the email from President Jaime Florez for the complete schedule) there will be some tweaks to the judging.

Members will still be asked to score each and every vehicle in three categories -- Design, Top Operation, and Driving Experience -- on a five-point scale.

As a guideline, a score of 5 is considered Exceptional/Innovative , 4 is Great, 3 Above Average, 2 Average, and 1 Below Average.

Paul also noted that Hyundai, which will be sponsoring the reception before the awards dinner that night, will have its Veloster Concept Cabrio on display and will be conducting Blue Link/Assurance Connected Care product demos while members wait to get in each participating vehicle.

Representatives from the Haartz Corporation, manufacturer of the soft tops that are on many of the convertibles in the competition, also will be on hand throughout the day and available for interviews and ride-arounds. Haartz is sponsoring the box lunch this year.

We want to thank both Hyundai and Haartz in advance for their support of Topless.

We hope to see you all at the Ritz on Thursday.

Watch your email box for information about our next meeting.

Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio




Photos & Videos by Pepe Delfino - Click on photos to enlarge

Fiat 500 L