Fiat 500

Fiat 500 review

Performance & drive
Manufacturer price from:£12,015
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£11,460
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Performance & drive

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

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

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 – especially around town. However, a Kia Picanto 1.25 will get you up to speed that bit more swiftly.

You might be tempted by the more powerful and seemingly more efficient 0.9 Twinair (turbocharged two-cylinders), but while it does inject a bit more performance into the baby Fiat, acceleration isn't particularly smooth and real-world fuel economy is actually very disappointing (more on that later). We'd recommending avoiding this engine.

If you're interested in the hot Abarth 595 model, click here for our bespoke review.

Suspension and ride comfort

This isn’t the Fiat 500’s strongest suit. Things are never uncomfortably firm or jarring, but the car never feels settled – no matter what the road condition or speed.

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 struggles to cope with potholes and larger intrusions, which send shudders through the cabin.

The rival Kia Picanto is more comfortable, but the Skoda Citigo and VW Up are the most relaxing options in the city car class.

If you're interested in the hot Abarth 595 model, click here for our bespoke review.

Handling

You won’t be surprised to learn 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.

Break away from the hustle and bustle of the city, though, and the 500 fails to sparkle. The body leans strongly in corners and the steering doesn’t weight up enough when you’re cornering quickly, so you feel somewhat disconnected from what the front wheels are up to. Compared with, say, a Kia Picanto or a VW Up, the Fiat 500 is completely outclassed when it comes to driver involvement.

If you're interested in the hot Abarth 595 model, click here for our bespoke review.

Fiat 500

Noise and vibration

Living with the 1.2-litre 500 on a day-to-day basis shouldn’t prove too tiresome: its engine may always be audible but is also pretty smooth. The 0.9-litre Twinair, meanwhile, is rather noisy and sends 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 reach irritating levels – even on the motorway. Overall, the are more refined city cars (i.e. the Hyundai i10) but the Fiat 500 doesn't disgrace itself.

The 500’s manual gearshift is light but rather vague, but it’s preferable to the optional and decidedly jerky Dualogic semi-automatic ’box.

 

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