Fiat 500 hatchback performance
The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol isn’t fast, but it’s perky enough and loves to be revved, which suits the 500’s cheeky nature. You might be tempted by the more powerful and seemingly more efficient 0.9 Twinairs (turbocharged two-cylinders), but while both versions (84bhp and 104bhp) inject a bit more performance into the baby Fiat, real-world fuel economy is very disappointing (more on that later). We’d say avoid both.
Fiat 500 hatchback ride
This isn’t the 500’s strongest suit. Things are never uncomfortably firm or jarring, but the car never quite settles – no matter what the road or speed. Along typical uneven backstreets you’ll often find yourself doing an involuntary impression of a nodding dog, while potholes and larger intrusions tend to send shudders through the cabin as the Fiat’s suspension struggles to cope.
Fiat 500 hatchback handling
You won’t be surprised to learn the 500 is at its best 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. Break away from the hustle and bustle of the city, though, and the 500 fails to sparkle. The handling is too roly-poly, and the steering doesn’t weight up enough when you’re cornering quickly, which leaves you feeling somewhat disconnected from the front wheels.
Fiat 500 hatchback refinement
Living with the 1.2-litre 500 on a day-to-day basis shouldn’t prove too tiresome, because while the engine is audible, it is also pretty smooth. The 0.9-litre Twinairs are the really big offenders, though; they’re noisy and send far to many vibrations up through the steering wheel and pedals when you accelerate.
Although wind and road noise in the 500 become increasingly noticeable as your speed rises, they never get to irritating levels – even on the motorway.
The 500’s manual gearshift is light but rather vague, but it’s preferable to the optional and decidedly jerky Dualogic semi-automatic ’box.