Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- A good looking car with cool interior design
- Very economical engines
- It's not confident on a highway
The new 500 is a significant model in the Fiat's line-up. It was appropriately launched in 2007, exactly 50 years after the first Fiat 500 made its debut. Visually both cars are very alike and they also cater for the same market niche. The main difference is the new 500 is so much more advanced from the point of view of technology and safety. Thanks to a quirky design and a clever marketing campaign, the new 500 has received a cult status (at least in Italy) and is considered a very fashionable and green little car.
Exterior and Interior
The 500 is trying to make a fashion statement and does it quite confidently. Stylistically, it is a reincarnation of the 1957 500 and you will notice the same body proportions, the same front end design. The new car is almost 2 feet longer though than the rear-engine supermini veteran.
It's mainly aimed at young people living in a city, hence it is being offered with so many interior and exterior options. You can choose from 12 body colours (not counting the special editions like Pink Barbie), 15 interior layouts (some of them featuring metal panels painted in body colour), 9 styles of alloy wheels, 19 sets of stickers and 4 different engines. That's several hundred thousands of combinations, so when they say that the Fiat 500 is all about you, they mean it.
The exterior is very well thought out and all 4 seats are comfortable. The quality of the interior is excellent and it really feels as if you were sitting in a higher-class car. The tiny Fiat comes in four trim levels. The basic is only offered in limited number of countries, where safety regulations are much looser than in the UK, so you won't possibly come across that. The entry level for the UK is called Pop, the middle of the range is Lounge and the top model is Sport. These trim levels don't apply when it comes to the limited edition 500s. Another popular choice is the Abarth modification, it looks even smarter and is that little bit faster than the standard models.
Performance and Economy
Performance and Economy is much better than the old 500! It had an air-cooled 1.5-litre engine at the rear producing a whopping 13bhp. As for the new 500, the worst you can get is 69bhp from the cheapest 1.2-litre petrol engine, although the unit provides 55mpg. The motorway-capable 1.4-litre engine is still pretty decent with 46mpg while the diesel can take you up to 67mpg.
However, the ultimate toy for the environmentally conscious is the TwinAir modification with the high-class 2-cylinder petrol engine. The TwinAir can achieve 68mpg, making it slightly more economical than even the diesel engine. Although it is so economical and sometimes it seems that it manages to exist on lean petrol fumes, it has more power than the basic 1.2-litre engine and can accelerate to 60mpg in little over 10 seconds. It totally breaks the misconception that an eco engine should be boring.
Like to Drive
Unlike the Cinquecento of the 90s the new supermini is fun to drive. You'll like the driving position and you'll enjoy holding the cute steering wheel... The car makes it very easy to be loved. Being a lightweight, well-designed car, it is easy to drive and easy to understand. The "city" button makes it even easier, it lightens up the power steering requiring less effort to drive around the town and parking a 500 doesn't require much skill. The 500 is a typical city car and the small engines will struggle on a motorway.
Faults and Repairs
The dodgy Cinquecento days are over. The car shares many of its systems with the new Panda, which has already proven to be a solid and reliable car. Add good quality control to the mix and you get a nice little supermini that shouldn't cause you many problems.