The side exterior of a silver Fiat 500

Fiat 500 review

Nippy engines, excellent handling and a compact size make the Fiat 500 an ideal car for town driving. It has a well-designed interior with a retro feel and promises a comfortable drive.

Pros

  • A contemporary, distinctive look
  • Nippy to drive around town
  • Affordable insurance and excellent fuel economy

Cons

  • Basic equipment levels are dated
  • Automatic version is hard to drive
  • Not much space for back seat passengers

Summary

“It’s a great choice as an affordable city car, with desirable looks and decent running costs.”

Perfect for a new driver or a couple, the Fiat 500 is easy to drive and park in town. Not only is it small and stylish but it also has state-of-the-art technology, such as Fiat’s Uconnect entertainment system and a seven-inch TFT display screen. This isn't a car for families though as the rear seats are cramped.

The trim levels that are most likely to be available when buying a used car, are the entry-level Pop and better-equipped Lounge and Sport, which include a wider range of features depending on your needs.

The exterior of a grey Fiat 500

What’s the interior like?

“Blending retro design with a modern feel makes the Fiat 500 a pleasant car to be in.”

The front driver and passenger seats offer plenty of space and have excellent headroom. The retro feel is maintained throughout the interior and the smart black or white steering wheel feels chunky and well-positioned. 

The dashboard is more like an elaborate speedometer dial that sits in front of you. The single dial contains a rev counter and other instruments, such as temperature and fuel gauge. It’s a neat package that works very well. 

Although the front seats are comfortable, the same can’t be said for rear passengers as there’s not a lot of space in the back. The 182-litre boot offers limited capacity and is only practical when the rear seatbacks are pushed forward. It will take a baby seat though.

The interior of a Fiat 500 with steering wheel and dashboard in shot

What’s it like to drive?

“Safe, comfortable and easy to drive, the Fiat 500 is a joy to own.”

Its small engines offer good performance, generally zipping in and out of traffic. With light, direct steering, decent suspension and stable brakes, the 500 is an urban all-rounder.

Of the two petrol engines, the older 69 hp 1.2-litre is reliable, but it isn’t the most exciting version. The two-cylinder TwinAir packs a punch when its turbo kicks in to give a lively and fun performance.

The diesel option is the 1.3-litre MultiJet. Its greatest strength is its flexibility, powering through the gears smoothly without the need for constant up and down changes. That said, it’s more suited to motorway driving or longer A-road motoring than town driving.

Rear seat shot of the fiat 500

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Engines are efficient, insurance premiums are fairly low and servicing costs are reasonable.”

With lots of 500s on the UK’s roads and quite high depreciation figures, they make an excellent, cost-effective and value for money choice as a used buy.

The 500 is a small city car without too many frills. This means servicing and repair costs are going to be kept down. Insurance premiums are low, which makes the 500 a good first-time buy for young people and the engines return excellent fuel economy. All engines, especially the 1.2-litre, are low in CO2, so road tax rates will be at the lower end of the scale.

The rear exterior of a silver Fiat 500

How reliable and safe is it?

“The 500 has always been considered a safe car and it achieved the highest safety rating at its introduction.”

The 500’s reliability record is good and as so many cars have been built, most issues have been ironed out over the years.

With its seven airbags, the 500 achieved the highest five-star Euro NCAP rating at its launch. It has some great features such as ABS brakes (anti-locking braking system), which helps to prevent wheels from locking when braking. There’s even a hazard warning system that flashes the indicator lights under heavy braking.

The front exterior of a silver Fiat 500

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - 500 TwinAir 85hp

Best for family - 500 1.2 Lounge

Best for fun - 500 TwinAir 105hp Sport

Most used Fiat 500s will be the Pop, Sport or Lounge variants.

The Lounge variant is probably the best as it’s a great all-rounder. The nippy TwinAir engines can accelerate briskly while retaining a respectable fuel economy. It looks good with alloy wheels, body coloured door mirrors and chrome. The list of standard equipment is impressive, including air con, cruise control and even a speed limiter.

There are two petrol engines and one diesel available. Fiat recently discontinued the diesel engine, but they’re still available on the used market. Diesel is the best choice for long distances as the engine drives better and feels much more at home on long open roads.

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