With its retro styling, the Fiat 500 is seen by some as nothing but an expensive fashion accessory. However, as a rival to the established MINI and new Vauxhall Adam, the Italian manufacturer doesn’t need to argue its case for very long. Its compact bodywork and light steering make it easy to park, while the eager engines and slick gearbox mean it's great on the open road, too. There's a hot Abarth version that’ll crack 60mph in less than eight seconds, but it's not as entertaining to drive as a MINI Cooper S. Entry-level 1.2-litre Pop models are basic and do without kit like air-con and alloy wheels – but even they come with an MP3-compatible stereo, power steering and electric mirrors. Sport and Lounge models are more luxurious, and add equipment like Bluetooth and USB connectivity. TwinAir models are road tax-exempt and all versions get stop-start technology – making them cheap to insure and ideal for first-time drivers.