Fiat 500 Hybrid review

Category: Small car

Section: Performance & drive

Fiat 500 2020 rear right cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 front tracking
  • Fiat 500 2020 rear right cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD dashboard
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD rear seats
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD infotainment
  • Fiat 500 2020 front left cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 rear left cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 boot open
  • Fiat 500 2020 front tracking
  • Fiat 500 2020 rear right cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD dashboard
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD rear seats
  • Fiat 500 2020 RHD infotainment
  • Fiat 500 2020 front left cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 rear left cornering
  • Fiat 500 2020 boot open
In this section:
  • Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
  • Suspension and ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Noise and vibration

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

If you've already checked out Fiat's website, you might have noticed the word 'hybrid' being used to describe the 500's entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine. This is somewhat misleading. You see, you can’t plug it in, and it can’t travel on electric power alone. It just has a tiny electric motor and a minuscule battery to help the petrol engine out in certain situations. For example, if you engage the clutch while coasting to a halt, the stop/start function will cut in before you reach a standstill  – improving fuel economy in the process. 

What it doesn’t do, though, is make the 500's 69bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine any more zippy. Sure, there’s enough thrust to make progress in hectic city traffic, but if you need a meaningful burst of pace, you won't get it. This is not a car that sits particularly comfortably in fast flowing motorway traffic. If you want something with a bit more urge for open road driving, look at the Kia Picanto 1.25. 

Take the 500 along a typical uneven backstreet and you’ll often find yourself doing an involuntary impression of a nodding dog. The Fiat’s suspension also struggles to cope with potholes and larger intrusions, which occasionally send a shudder through the car's body.

As for the 500’s rivals, the Kia Picanto jostles you around a little less on scraggy town roads, but it’s still rather unsettled on the motorway. Really, if you want a city car with a nice supple ride, you’ll want to take a look at the Hyundai i10 – it’s easily the most relaxing car in the city car class.

Handling

You won’t be surprised to learn that the 500 is most at home when picking its way through crowded urban streets. This is thanks to its small dimensions and light steering, which can be made even lighter by pressing a ‘city’ button on the dashboard.