For the first time in nearly 30 years, Fiat has unveiled a production model for the United States.

While the watershed moment isn't much of a surprise - since the company has been showing the European version to build up publicity - it is no less significant.

Built in Mexico, the U.S.-spec 500 has a reinforced body structure, a retuned suspension (sadly, it sounds "dumbed down"), a new anti-lock braking system, a larger fuel tank, and various modifications to reduce noise, vibrations and harshness (NVH). Besides the chassis tweaks, there's a new steering wheel, redesigned seats, and an improved HVAC system.

Three trim levels (Pop, Sport and Lounge) will be available, but they will all be powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir engine with 101 hp (75 kW / 102 PS) and 98 lb-ft (133 Nm) of torque. It is connected to a five-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic (a U.S. exclusive) is optional.

Available this spring, the 500 will be priced from $15,500 which is $4,600 less than the MINI Cooper.

Gallery: U.S.-spec Fiat 500 unveiled in Los Angeles

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