Fiat 500 2020 - Contemporary and chic
The Fiat 500 is a contemporary and chic small city car, which retains many of the retro characteristics of its ancestor, some 60 plus years ago. The Fiat 500 is a popular option for those who live and work in busy cities, thanks to their low emission and economical engines.
The Fiat 500 was first launched back in 1957 and went on to be a massive success, with several variations of the model being produced. Some of these included the 500 Furgoncino (a panel van), the 500F and the 500R. After nearly 20 years Fiat decided to cease production of the 500 in 1975 and was replaced by the Fiat 126.
A brand new model was produced in 2007, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fiat 500. The engine is now located at the front, as opposed to being rear-mounted in the original model. Fiat maintained the styling characteristics of the original 500 when designing the new, with just minor tweaks and modern updates. The updated Fiat 500 was an instant success thanks to its funky retro design both inside and out, along with fuel-efficient engines and tiny size making a perfect car for city travel.
The Fiat 500 in a few derivatives such as the 500X and 500L, both of which are slightly larger models. We will be focussing on the original and standard 3-door Fiat 500 model, which is now available with a petrol or hybrid engine. There are five main trim levels to choose from, Pop, Lounge, Sport, Star and Rockstar, all of which are available with either of the engine options. There is also a special Launch Edition model which comes with the hybrid engine only.
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Engines, Power and Performance
When choosing a Fiat 500 your engine choice is pretty straight forward as there is just one petrol and one hybrid. Both engines are economical and efficient and have low CO2 figures to help keep the tax bracket down.
The petrol option is a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine, which generates a modest 69hp and 102Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an automatic transmission and is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in 12.9secs. It will climb to a top speed of 101mph.
The new hybrid offering is more of a mild hybrid and combines a 1-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with a small electric motor and lithium-ion battery. The hybrid engine doesn't need to be plugged in to charge the battery, as this is done through regenerative braking. The hybrid engine produces 70hp and 90Nm of torque and is slightly slower on the sprint from 0-62mph (13.8secs) than the petrol version. The only transmission choice when selecting the hybrid is a six-speed manual, and there is currently no automatic option available.
The Fiat 500 is a nippy and nimble little car, which works superbly well around busy city centres. Due to its small compact size, squeezing into a tight parking space is no longer something to make you anxious about, the Fiat 500 makes the job.
Interior Quality and Technology
The interior of the Fiat 500 is an area which has improved considerably over the years, not just cosmetically but also technologically. Inside and out, the Fiat 500 has a retro and chic styling, with a large variety of colours available. There is a generous list of interior colours and options, such as the fabric materials and colour along with trim accents to give each Fiat 500 a unique customised feel.
The entry-level 'Pop' trim doesn't come with the largest selection of features, but you get DAB radio and CD player along with a multifunctional steering wheel. If you opt for the Lounge trim or above the list of features grows quite significantly with the addition of a 7-inch colour touchscreen supporting Fiat's infotainment system. Some of the standard features include Bluetooth, DAB Radio, Smartphone Connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and rear parking sensors.
Opt for the 'Star' trim and above and you get a 3D navigation system, a 7-inch TFT digital information display cluster and a fixed glass roof as well as several other useful extras.
There may not be the same amount of soft-touch plastic used in the Fiat 500 as there is in some of its main rivals like the Volkswagen Up, but don't let that put you off. Fiat has focused on maintaining as much of the original Fiat 500's style and charm, and I think the interior is bang on the money, and unique enough to make you want to spend more time enjoying it.
Space, Practicality and Safety
The first thing you have to appreciate when we look at the space and practicalities of the Fiat 500, is that it has not been designed and built to be a family car. For those after that little more space, there is the Fiat 500X and 500L, which offers extra interior and boot space along with an additional couple of doors.
The Fiat 500 is a city car aimed at making commutes to and from work and weekend shopping trips more economical and fuel-efficient, as well as being able to fit into smaller parking spaces than most other cars.
In the front, there is a generous amount of space, and a couple of tall adults will fit in comfortably with plenty of headroom. Legroom again will accommodate even those long in the leg thanks to seats which slide back. The downside to sliding the front seats back to for the driver and or passenger is that it further limits the space in the rear.
The Fiat 500 only has three doors, and as such, it makes it a little tricky to get into the rear, especially if you are an adult. There are two seats in the back of the Fiat 500, and they will fit a couple of adults in, but it will be very much at a squeeze and not something that would suit anything more than a short journey.
There are a few storage compartments throughout the Fiat 500 such as a small glovebox, dinky door pockets and a couple of decent-sized cupholders. The boot, as you would expect, is small with a capacity of just 185-litres, just big enough for a few bags of shopping or a couple of weekend overnight holdalls. Main rivals such as the Kia Picanto and Volkswagen Up both have much larger boot capacities with 255-litres and 250-litres respectively.
The Fiat 500 scored a not so impressive 3-star rating from the Euro NCAP safety tests carried out in 2017, due to a lack of safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB). You do get multiple airbags, a couple of Isofix child seat mounts in the rear, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), speed limiter and stop-start technology.
The Fiat 500 is a cool, chic and retro city car which can still turn heads and appeal to the masses. If you're after a funky small car to get you to and from work, the Fiat 500 could be the one for you.