Fiat 500 – iconic
Fiat 500 Lounge – new car review by Nick Fletcher, Car Test Planet
By virtue of outstanding design, inbuilt charisma and huge sales, some cars achieve iconic stature. We look at reasons for the Fiat 500 to be included in the hall of fame.
The Mini and VW Beetle spring to mind, and you could argue that the#Fiat500 should join that elite group. Very popular as a fun budget car in the 1960s and 1970s, it was re-launched as a cool retro-chic city car eight years ago and since then has racked up 1.5 million sales worldwide, with 250,000 of those in the UK.
Accessible prices – from £10,890 – and a range of economical engines underpin a small car with a big personality and its charm is a massive sales factor, along with a wide range of ‘second skin’ personalisation packages which enable buyers to style the car to their own taste.
Our test model came in two-tone black and yellow, with a stitch effect dividing them, and it attracted a lot of attention! Powered by a 1.2 litre 69 hp petrol engine, it offers decent performance.
While the 0-60 mph time of 12.9 seconds isn’t too zippy, it feels quicker in such a nimble light-touch car. Top speed is 99 mph and the fuel economy figure is 60.1 mpg combined.
There are two-cylinder TwinAir 0.9 litre turbo-petrol models in the range, which are revvy and fun, and a 1.3 litre diesel for those seeking maximum economy.
Our test model was in Lounge spec, priced at £12,640 and well-kitted with 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, power front windows, remote locking, rear parking sensors, Start & Stop, fog lights, daytime running lights, 5-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth among its features.
The cabin is neatly styled and the piano-black dashboard and chrome detailing is eye-catching.
Front seating is comfortable though more shoulder support is needed. The rear seats are quite cramped and the boot at 185 litres quite small compared with class rivals, though the rear seats do fold to provide 550 litre capacity.
However, such is the visual cachet of the Fiat 500 that you can easily forgive these minor shortcomings – you just fall in love with the car!
A few months ago, the 500 was refreshed, with new-design front and rear lights, new touchscreen infotainment system and other subtle tweaks help keep it fresh in the face of rival models.
The 500 is a two-person car for those who put style and fun ahead of practicality, and as such, it excels in its primary role as a neat and nimble city car.
Ride quality is good, the steering light, and handling composed. You need to rev it a little to get off the mark as there is little low-down torque but that apart it is a smooth operator in and around town.
And its high driving position and good all-round visibility make it easy to manoeuvre and park.
There are some city car rivals which offer a little more space and maybe extra equipment at a lower price, but they don’t look as cute or have the character of the Fiat 500, nor the stronger residual values that the 500 commands.
FOR: Cute image, agile driving feel, decent level of standard kit.
AGAINST: Slightly smaller than some city car rivals.