The Fiat 500 is one of the most iconic cars on the road. Its retro styling puts it up there with some of the best-loved vehicles in the UK.
But, as I told several girls during my teenage years, looks aren’t everything. And, luckily, the Fiat 500 comes with plenty of personality and substance too.
To drive, it’s nimble around tight corners thanks to its small turning circle and light steering. But there’s still enough feel to take high-speed bends with confidence.
And with a small but punchy engine range, including a petrol-electric mild hybrid option, there’s enough to keep you entertained behind the wheel.
Of course, with a car of its stature, the Fiat 500 isn’t going to be winning boot space awards anytime soon. But there’s still comfortably enough room for four carry-on bags or the weekly shop.
And it’s the same for passengers. You’ll want to stay away from regular long-distance journeys with adults in the back. But for the odd trip or for young children, it’s a perfect space.
All in all, there isn’t much we dislike about the Fiat 500. The interior could look a touch nicer – with lots of scratchy plastics used.
But if you can get over that, and use the car what it’s designed for – commuting short distances and nipping around town – it’s near enough perfect.
Things we like about the Fiat 500
- Great styling
- Loads of customisation options
- Fun to drive
Things we don’t like about the Fiat 500
- Interior looks a bit cheap in parts
- Not great for adult rear passengers
- Could be a touch more powerful
Now you’ve heard our thoughts on the Fiat 500, it’s time for you to decide whether it’s right for you.
We’ll talk you through everything you need to know. Just skip to the part you want to read by clicking the title below.
- Design & styling
- MPG, running costs & environmental impact
- Engines, drive & performance
- Practicality & boot space
- Reliability & safety
- Cost and deals
Design & styling
Since its relaunch in the mid-2000s, the Fiat 500 has taken to the hearts of many through its retro styling.
In a nod to the original 500, which was adored across Italy in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Fiat modernised the ‘bubble’ look with a slightly different shape and extra detailing and created one of the most recognisable cars on the road.
A reason why it’s so loved is customisation. The Fiat 500 comes in a huge range of colours, including exclusive special edition tones, such as dusty pink and matte green, available only in selected models.
But, unlike almost any other on the road, the small Italian city car lets owners show off their personality in a glance.
There are different alloy wheel designs, additional decals and even a convertible model. The Fiat 500s design isn’t built for the best aerodynamics or the greatest fuel economy. It’s created as an avenue of expression.
And we absolutely love it.
MPG, running costs & environmental impact
Although its design is upright and attentive – which usually hampers a car’s aerodynamics meaning lower fuel economy – because of its size and weight, the Fiat 500’s numbers are pretty good.
In the mild hybrid, which is the most popular (and cheapest) engine, you can expect to record over 53mpg.
To put it into literal terms, the 500 will cost around 9p per mile to run, meaning a year’s worth of fuel driving 10,000 miles will set you back around £900.
The hybrid is also kind on the environment. Producing just 119g/km of CO2, your first year’s road tax – which is usually included in the car’s on-the-road price – is £170 and £150 every year thereafter.
If, however, you’re not keen on the hybrid, there’s a less powerful 1.2-litre petrol option which, under testing, recorded 46.3mpg and 138g/km of CO2.
Engines, drive & performance
As we’ve already touched on, the Fiat 500 comes with two engine choices – a 1.0-litre petrol-electric mild hybrid and a 1.2-litre petrol.
Between the two, aside from the hybrid having one horsepower more, the hybrid produces less CO2s and is usually around £600 cheaper.
As you might expect – with the hybrid having 70bhp and the 1.2 petrol having 69bhp – neither are going to be setting 0-62mph time records, with the hybrid reaching it in 13.4 seconds and the 1.2 in 12.5.
But the Fiat 500 isn’t about raw speed. If you wanted that, you’d buy an Abarth. It’s about enjoying driving. And you don’t always need speed to do that.
The Fiat 500 is a great example of that. The steering is light and nimble, making it great for city streets and windy bends.
There’s a little bit of body roll through high-speed corners, but that’s a byproduct of the cushioned ride you enjoy in everyday driving. And while there’s some vibration in the steering wheel, it’s not enough to be a big issue.
Essentially, then, the Fiat 500’s engines, drive and performance do exactly what they need to do.
It’s not too powerful where it forces big insurance premiums, but it’s still got enough about it to be fun when you want it to be.
The Fiat 500 interior is another great feature of the little city car.
There are some cheap plastics used in some components, which takes the shine off it slightly, but for the most part, it’s a really nice place to be.
Unless you go for the entry-level Pop, where there really isn’t much more than a shell, some seats and an engine, you’ll be surrounded by up-to-date tech and safety features.
In most, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard. Alongside adding Bluetooth, this means you can link your phone’s maps to the touchscreen infotainment system to give you sat-nav.
On top of that, as you climb the range, more niceties are added, such as air conditioning, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
But arguably two of the most noticeable features inside the Fiat 500 are the body-coloured dashboard, which is a nod to the original Fiat 500, and in the Hybrid Launch Edition, a special material in the seats which is made from recycled ocean plastic.
There’s nothing much else out there like the Fiat 500’s interior, meaning no matter which trim level you choose, you’re going to stand out.
Practicality & boot space
Despite not being the biggest of cars, the Fiat 500 is still practical enough.
There’s more than enough room for two adults in the front – although it’s important to note that if you’re tall, you might want to stay away from the 500C or glass roof.
Meanwhile, in the back, there’s comfortably enough space for two children. If you regularly have adults in the rear seats for long distances, the Fiat 500 may not be the car for you. Short trips will be fine, but anything longer and you’ll be receiving complaints.
In the boot, there’s also enough space for your weekly shop or four aeroplane carry-on bags thanks to the 185-litre load area – which is considerably more than the Toyota Aygo but smaller than the VW Up!.
With the seats down, that’ll grow considerably to 550 litres, which is about a fifth bigger than the standard space available in a Ford Focus hatchback or VW Golf.
Really, then, unless you’re regularly carrying large payloads or carloads of burly men, the Fiat 500’s practicality should be more than adequate for day-to-day life.
Reliability & safety
The Fiat 500 is well-known for its reliability. In fact, the car, and Fiat in general, often outperform their rivals when it comes to vehicle dependability.
And with it being a small car, unless it’s catastrophically damaged, should you need any work carried out, repair bills should be reasonable.
In terms of safety, the Fiat 500 comes with an impressive seven airbags, ESC, ABS and hill assist to help keep all four wheels on the road during slippy conditions.
Cruise control, as well as a speed limiter, is also available as standard in the higher specs.
When it was tested in 2017, the 500 scored three-out-of-five in its Euro NCAP safety rating.
Cost & deals
One of the many attractions of the Fiat 500 is its price. Not only to buy or lease, but to own.
We’ve already mentioned its low fuel costs, good real-world fuel efficiency and strong reliability.
But then add to that low insurance costs – with the Fiat 500 insurance groups ranging from 8-10, making it one of the cheapest cars on the market to insure – and you can start to see why the car has proven to be so popular.
So, if you’d like to enjoy everything the Fiat 500 has to offer – which as you can now see is a lot – then get behind the wheel of one today.
Our prices start from just £141 a month, including delivery, breakdown, warranty and road tax.
So, what are you waiting for, find your perfect Fiat 500 today.