Full Review of the Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a car all about style. It is one of the most desirable, interesting, charming and best value city cars on the market with retro looks combined with new technology.

Fiat 500 Car Review

Fifty years after the original was launched, Fiat have reinvented an icon. The miniscule, rear-engined city car that entranced a nation of Italians in the 50s, 60s and 70s, has been brought bang up to date for the modern day.
But the original script has changed as this new Fiat 500 isn’t a simple workhorse like its predecessors. Rather the baby Fiat’s modern market appeal is as a heavily-styled fashion object, relying on premium build quality and desirability rather than engineering purity.
In fact, Fiat’s offering so many cosmetic add-ons that you can specify – wait for it – an incredible 500,000-plus differing variations taking into account all the combinations of trim, upholstery and fittings.
Compare that to the very first ‘Nuova’ 500 of 1957 – a machine so basic it was conceived partly as an alternative to a scooter.
The fashionistas of today will appreciate the freedom to accessorise their new car – but it’s nostalgia for the original that makes the modern Fiat 500 so dangerously easy for normal buyers to fall for.
The dinky outline of the 1950s car has been replicated, albeit on a larger scale and the engine has been moved from the rear to the front.
Fiat is on a roll at the moment with a rejuvenated line up of models including the Grande Punto and the latest Panda demonstrating new standards of build quality and reliability. The Fiat 500 doesn’t let the side down.


The Fiat 500 is cute but not tiny. Indeed it is bigger than you might expect and boasts supermini –like dimensions.
Although only a four-seater – and legroom in the back is tight – the front is more than roomy enough and the boot offers a reasonable amount of space. The rear seats fold down easily to improve luggage space.
There’s a quality feel about the finish although the steering wheel would benefit from being adjustable for reach and not just height.
Occupants are treated to civilised, relatively quiet journeys, even when the engine’s working hard. The seats are soft and comfortable.
The Fiat 500 is great as a city car with dual power steering control making it easy to manoeuvre in car parks. Just push a button and the steering becomes as light as a feather.
The simple design of the dashboard means it’s extremely easy to use.
Mechanically the Fiat 500 is heavily based on the excellent Fiat Panda – in fact it’s built on the same production line in Poland.  The engines are also basically the same, although the 500’s power units are tuned to give more grunt than the Panda’s.

Life Style

Fiat’s designers have outdone themselves, even the key fob is available in nine different brightly coloured styles.
The Fiat 500 is gunning for the competition in a big way – and one of its main weapons is price as it undercuts many of its main competitors leaving plenty of scope for those personal touches.
As city slickers go the 500 is fresh, exciting and different. There’s a choice of 1.2-litre or 1.4-litre petrol engines or a 1.3-litre turbodiesel. Three trim levels are available - Pop, Sport and Lounge.
The Fiat 500 is perhaps at its best with the diesel engine which delivers plenty of performance, top speed of 103mph and good mid-range acceleration, while returning 67.3mpg on average with carbon dioxide emissions nice and low at 111g/km.
None of the engines are lacking in the Fiat 500 and the 1.2 petrol is almost as frugal and clean as the diesel averaging 55.4mpg and 119g/km CO2.
No surprisingly the Fiat 500 is at its best when picking its way through traffic on crowded city streets. Break away from the hustle and bustle of the city though and it’s not as good as the handling and ride get a bit jittery.
The Fiat 500s interior, featuring the twin-binnacle speedo/rev counter for example, is typically Italian and incredibly stylish. The cabin’s lent an air of quality rarely found in a car in this price bracket.

Security and Safety

Safety in the Fiat 500 is first rate. All models come with front, side, curtain and knee airbags, which has helped it receive a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Some versions of the 500 also feature driver aids like traction and stability control to help keep you on the road. Security is good thanks to central locking, an alarm and an immobiliser.

The Finishing Touches

Standard equipment on the Pop includes a CD/MP3 stereo, power steering, electric door mirrors and colour-coded bumpers. Step up from the basic model and access is gained to goodies such as a sunroof, metallic paint, parking sensors and air conditioning.