By Alexi Falson, 15 Nov, 2021
Review - Fiat 500
AF By Alexi Falson November 26, 2021
The Fiat 500 is a modern and undeniably stylish take on the company’s classic hatch of the late 1950s, offering easy motoring for those that prefer a compact approach to their commute
Since the re-launch of its classic nameplate, the Fiat 500 has taken the world by storm, particularly in the European market, offering a relatively affordable, funky and no-frills package for buyers.
The problem for the Fiat 500, though, is that in a marketplace like Australia, competition from Japanese and Korean manufacturers in the affordable and compact segment could mean that its position is at threat. The likes of the Kia Picanto, Honda Jazz, Toyota Yaris and the Ford Fiesta are just a few of the names that compete dangerously close to the Fiat 500, meaning it has to perform to an exceptionally high standard to win over new buyers.
With competition this stiff, it’s worth asking the question of whether or not the Fiat 500 is your best option for an affordable, compact, feature-packed and commuter-friendly urban run-around; let’s find out.
Starting Price: $18,950
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Fiat 500 (CLUB) Specifications
|Fuel type||UNLEADED PETROL|
|Transmission||5 SP AUTO DUALOGIC|
|Engine configuration||OVERHEAD CAM / 8 valves|
|Engine RPM||5500 / 3000|
|Fuel tank size||35.0|
|Fuel usage specs||4.8 / 0.0|
|ANCAP security rating||UNRATED|
How Much Does It Cost?
The Fiat 500 range kicks off from $18,950 for the entry-level Fiat 500 Lounge with a manual gearbox, while the equivalent automatic is priced at $20,950. The range then moves to the Fiat 500 Dolcevita, which, with a manual gearbox is priced at $21,450, while the automatic is priced at $23,450. Finally, the Fiat 500 range tops-out in the form of the Dolcevita Convertible, which comes priced at $25,450 for the manual and $27,450 for the automatic variant.
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What Features Does the Fiat 500 Have?
The entry-level Fiat 500 of the range comes riding on a set of 15-inch alloy wheels, and receives a set of LED headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Techno blue dashboard finish, blue cloth fabric upholstery with Fiat monogram, rear parking sensors, heated and powered side mirrors, a 50/50 folding rear bench seat, as well as a 7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and voice control, tyre pressure monitoring and some added safety equipment which we’ll cover later in this review.
Stepping up to the Fiat 500 Dolcevita adds a set of 16-inch alloys, as well as fog lights and a chrome exterior design package, automatic headlights and wipers, climate control, cruise control, premium cloth upholstery, Dolcevita badges, a fixed glass sunroof and a 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster.
15-inch alloy wheels
LED headlights with daytime running lamps
Rear parking sensors
Heated, powered side mirrors
Techno blue dashboard
Blue cloth fabric upholstery with Fiat monogram
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
7.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+
50/50 folding bench seat
3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster
16-inch alloys (Dolcevita)
Fog lights (Dolcevita)
Fixed glass sunroof (Dolcevita)
Cruise control (Dolcevita)
Chrome exterior design package (Dolcevita)
Premium cloth upholstery (Dolcevita)
Automatic headlights (Dolcevita)
Automatic wipers (Dolcevita)
7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster (Dolcevita)
Fiat 500 (CLUB) Colours
|Gelato White||Mint Milkshake|
|Colosseum Grey||Carrara Grey|
|Vesuvio Black||Teal Blue|
What Colours is the Fiat 500 Available in?
Fiat is offering the 500 in a choice of Gelata white, Passione red, Vesuvio black, Pompei grey, Powder pink, Blue Ottanio, Carrara grey, Bordeaux and Sicilia Orange.
Is it Comfortable to Drive?
As a vehicle designed primarily for the urban jungle, the Fiat 500 remains a wonderful little car to drive around the city. In this regard, the 500 is true to its design brief and its original predecessor, and it succeeds in making even the most mundane drives a little bit more personable and significantly easier.
To kick things off on a positive note, while the engine might be relatively small, because of the simple fact that the body is compact and lightweight, the 500 feels perfectly powered when you’re driving around town. Acceleration from the 1.2-litre four-cylinder unit is modest but persistent, meaning that the manual variants will require a fair few gear changes to get you up to speed. The automatic receives a smooth five-speed dualogic semi-automatic transmission which works away in the background offering relatively quick shifts in the background. No doubt the 500’s strongest point, however, is the silky-smooth and lightweight steering rack, which makes piloting the 500 through tight city streets and carparks an absolute pleasure.
The Fiat 500 even comes with a ‘city-assist’ feature for the steering, which makes the steering wheel even lighter when driving at low speeds and while parking. Combined with its extremely tight turning circle and relatively low bodyweight, the 500 is perfectly suited for the urban jungle and remains one of the leading compact hatches on the market in this regard.
The little Fiat can, however, become a little bit unsettled on some large bumps and uneven surfaces due to its short wheelbase and urban suspension system. Around town, it offers a nice and balanced ride quality that reduces body roll through tight corners, however its city-dwelling roots become a little bit more clear when you’re up to speed on an Australian road surface. At speed on the open road it’s by no means an uncomfortable car, but it’s worth noting that the tiny little cabin can be tumbled around easier than some of its slightly larger rivals.
As a fit-for-purpose city car, though, the Fiat 500 remains one of the leading urban runarounds and continues to make the process of navigating crowded car parks and tight city streets a pleasure. While it might be a little out of its comfort zone on the open highway, in terms of its design brief, the Fiat 500 performs admirably.
Is it Practical and Spacious?
You might be surprised to find out that the little Fiat 500 is slightly more practical than its petite exterior proportions might suggest. This is the result of some clever packaging and a relatively straight-forward, yet stylish, approach to the cabin’s design. While it might be unsuitable for growing families, we can only judge it within the context of the micro hatch segment, and in that regard, the 500 once again starts ticking a number of important boxes.
Stepping into the front of the cabin, the driver and front passenger are greeted by a simple dashboard design that might be starting to show signs of its age, but it remains user-friendly and offers a heap of visibility for the driver. The dash features a number of funky retro-inspired design elements and switchgear that adds a nice sense of personality to the interior design. In terms of space and comfort, the Fiat 500 offers a front cabin that will prove comfortable for most drivers, although taller drivers might struggle to find the ideal driving position.
While there’s a enough shoulder room between the driver and front passenger, legroom can become a problem, particularly for the manual variant that offers no foot rest beside the clutch, and headroom might become an issue if you’re taller than 180cm. For the majority of drivers, though, the front of the Fiat 500’s cabin is a cosy place to sit that gives you a great view of the road, your blindspots and behind the car, so don’t be too concerned about its limited size. Practical elements here include the usual set of storage options in the doors either side, a large glovebox, a series of cupholders and a central storage area for loose items. All up, the Fiat 500’s cabin has been designed with elements of practicality, as well as style, keenly in the mind of its designers.
Moving to the rear of the cabin, you’ll find a pair of seats that feature a set of ISOFIX anchors and top tether points, meaning the Fiat 500 is perfectly suited to transporting young children in the rear of the cabin. For adults, though, space is extremely limited. While the rear of the cabin is acceptable for short journeys around town, the limited legroom and in particular, the extremely limited headroom means that anyone larger than a growing teenager will struggle to get comfortable on long trips in the rear of the cabin. In terms of cargo storage in the rear, the Fiat 500 has a boot rated at 185L for both the hatchback and convertible variant, which is enough to swallow up a medium-sized trip to the supermarket.
In terms of space and practicality, then, it’s clear to see that the Fiat 500 is limited by its proportions, however, it does the best it can with its stature to accommodate a pair of passengers, as well as any children in comfort and style.
Is it Safe?
The Fiat 500 has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five star safety rating when it was tested back in 2008. It scored 15.11 out of 16 for front impacts, 15.80 out of 16 for side impacts, and achieved an overall safety score of 34.91 out of 37.
Safety is one area that a clear gap between the Fiat 500 and some of its more modern rivals has begun to emerge. While a number of its rivals receive active safety features like autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assistance, the little Fiat makes do with a simple ESC package with seven airbags. This means that while the body construction of the 500 is extremely sturdy and the airbags help it as a safe package, the lack of active safety technologies is something to note.
Is it Fuel Efficient?
As you’d expect, the Fiat 500 performs remarkably well when put under the fuel economy test. The official figures stand at 4.9L per 100km for the manual variant, while the automatic drops this figure down to 4.8L per 100km. In our time, we were able to improve upon Fiat’s official numbers, largely thanks to its small-capacity engine and lightweight body. This means that the Fiat 500 is an undeniably economical city car that matches its key rivals in terms of fuel economy, even bordering on the efficiency of some hybrid powertrains thanks to its simple, lightweight design.
Our Verdict: Is the Fiat 500 Worth it?
One of the common criticisms thrown at the Fiat 500 is that it remains merely a styling exercise, rather than offering drivers any substance. If it were priced any higher, we may be guilty of these accusations, too, but with relatively modest starting prices, a perfectly acceptable range of features and the smile-inducing styling inside and out, the Fiat 500 remains a great option for buyers looking for a small and affordable city car. On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925
Five Specs You Need to Know
Three-year, 150,000km warranty
12-month/15,000km service intervals
Five star ANCAP safety rating
185L of boot space
4.9L per 100km fuel economy for manual; 4.8L per 100km for automatic
Perky engine perfectly suited for cities while remaining fuel-efficient
Compact proportions, lightweight steering and tight turning circle
Funky styling inside and out
Perfect urban commuter
Absence of active safety features
Limited warranty terms
Lacks confidence at highway speeds and rough surfaces
Fiat 500 Competition
Fiat 500 (CLUB)
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