Fiat 500 hatchback
Price £10,420 - £16,000
- Trendy retro looks
- Easy to drive
- Surprisingly roomy
- Basic entry models
- Poor real-world economy
- Pricey special editions
At a glance
"The Fiat 500 is a great buy if you want a stylish retro-looking city car that offers good value and decent running costs."
The Fiat 500 was launched in 2007. It was designed to be a trendy city car with retro looks inspired by the original Fiat 500 from the sixties. It shares its mechanical parts with the Fiat Panda and Ford Ka, and all three cars are built in the same factory in Poland.
Despite sharing so many parts, the 500 is completely different to the Panda and Ka. Its chic looks mean it's the perfect car for the city, but it doesn’t offer the practicality of the Panda.
The basic 500 line-up comprises Pop, Colour Therapy, Lounge and S models, but they're joined by a roster of special editions such as Cult, BiColour and GQ, all offering their own take on the 500 formula.
The entry-level Pop is rather basic, while Colour Therapy adds funky colour schemes and white detailing inside and out. Our top choice is the Lounge model, which provides a glass roof and air-con.
Fiat offers a long list of extras and personalisation options, including new wheels, extra chrome trim, interior upgrades and racy stickers. But tread carefully – funky colour schemes and graphics could harm the car's value when you come to sell.
Power comes from Fiat's range of small petrol and diesel engines. Depending on which model you go for, there's a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, a 1.2-litre petrol or Fiat's award-winning 875cc TwinAir turbocharged petrol engine on offer. We’d recommend the TwinAir, because it fits the 500's cheeky character perfectly. Just don’t expect to get near Fiat's claimed economy figures in regular driving. If you want an automatic gearbox, it's a £750 option on petrol-engined cars.
The standard 500 hatchback is at the centre of the 500 range, which now includes (deep breath) the Fiat 500C convertible, the five-seat Fiat 500L MPV, the rugged-looking 500L Trekking and the seven-seat Fiat 500L MPW. Plus, there are performance models in the shape of the Abarth 500 and Abarth 500C.
A range of small engines means the Fiat 500 will be a cheap car to own – even if it’s not as efficient as Fiat claims
The Fiat 500 feels most at home in the city, with the TwinAir engine our pick of the range, but the MINI is more fun to drive
Funky colours and a new digital instrument cluster mean the Fiat 500 has a stylish and modern-looking interior.
Only available as a three-door, and with a pretty small boot, the Fiat 500 is not great if you regularly carry passengers.
There are no issues with safety, but Fiat 500 owners don’t seem too impressed by the city car’s reliability.