Measuring just 2.97m long and 1.32m wide, the original Fiat 500 was a proper city car. It could nip in and out of traffic, through sewers and round tight bends — all with a couple tonnes of gold in the back!
Back in 2006 when Fiat announced they were reviving the 500, I was pretty worried. The old car was a product of its time — and much more lenient road safety laws! — and I didn’t know whether they could haul that motoring icon into the 21st century without losing what made the original so special.
Well I shouldn’t have worried! The new Fiat is every bit as cute and fun as the old one.
The retro Italian styling is obviously the main selling point and the modern car looks just as cool now as it did back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Inside things are bang up-to-date with a nice infotainment system.
If I’m being critical, the build quality is a bit iffy with cheap materials used in some prominent positions but the overall feel in the cabin is still very good.
On the road, it’s a pretty relaxing experience. The steering is light in the city and you get a decent amount of feedback through the wheel.
Engine choice is good with six petrols and a diesel on offer, and Fiat has tweaked all of them to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
If you’re staying in the city, you can just about get away with the basic 69hp 1.2-litre petrol but if you’re adventuring onto motorways, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to to something with a bit more beef.
On CO2 emissions, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The smallest engine, the 1.2-litre petrol, emits 110g/km but that starts falling when you move up the range. The 0.9-litre TwinAir Dualogic is the best of the bunch, emitting just 88g/km of CO2.
Fuel efficiency in the basic engine is also the poorest of the bunch, managing just 60.1mpg in Fiat's combined test. Upgrade to the 0.9-litre TwinAir engine I mentioned earlier and that jumps up to 74.3mpg. Faster, cleaner and cheaper to run — not a bad improvement!