Motoring Review: Fiat 500

A rival to the original Austin Mini, the Fiat 500 was one of the first small city cars.

Originally produced between 1957 and 1975, it measured 9 feet in length and had a tiny 479cc engine (hence the name 500).

In 2007, fifty years after the original, Fiat revised this cheeky little car. It’s loosely based on a 2004 concept car, the Trepiuno. Dean Woodward takes one for a spin for us…

Significant others are:
•    BMW Mini
•    Fiat Panda
•    Smart ForTwo
•    Ford Ka

Models and Engines comprise of:
•    Pop, Lounge, Sport and the Abarth
•    1.2 and 1.4 Petrol
•    1.3 Diesel Engine
•    Prices range from £8,100 to circa £11,000 (excluding the Abarth)

Vehicle Appraisal

Styling
Volkwagen began the trend for retro styling with the Beetle, continued by BMW with the Mini and Jaguar with the S-Type. The 500’s styling is its strongest trait. In keeping with the fun feel, there are a multitude of paint jobs, trim and accessory options – 12 colours, 15 types of upholstery, 9 styles of wheels, and around 20 decal sets. With 550,000 potential permutations, a truly unique vehicle can be created

Interior
A quality feel combined with retro style, there’s no skimping on modern technology such as iPod compatibility and Bluetooth. Front passengers will travel with comfort and ease; space is more confined in the rear. Thanks to a higher roof line and a light and airy interior, the 500 appears a little more roomy than the Mini.

Handling/Performance
The 500 darts through city traffic and navigates tight spots – just as the original was intended to do. Engine and wind noise are more noticeable at speed. It’s not as sharp or responsive as the Mini but then not as expensive either. Fiat’s Dual Drive steering system assists the driver at low speeds. It disables itself above about 40 mph, so up to this speed the steering feels a little artificial. With seven airbags, the 500 scores the full five stars in the NCAP occupant protection test. Antilock brakes are standard and electronic antiskid control is an option.

Summary
Cheeky, Stylish and Classic. Step out of the FIAT 500 in the centre of London wearing your Italian designer suit and you won’t lose your street cred.

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