In-depth reviews

Fiat 500 hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

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

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.9 out of 5

Read owner reviews

The Fiat 500 is designed to be a stylish city car and it really excels around town. Its compact dimensions and large front windows mean it’s easy to see where you’re going and place the car where you want it, and the 500 can nip through gaps that would leave other cars – even superminis – sat waiting.

One neat feature is Fiat’s City Steering mode, fitted to every new 500. You simply press a button on the dashboard to give the steering extra power assistance, which makes it easy to twirl around with hardly any effort. This makes parking a breeze and Fiat offers optional rear parking sensors (on the Pop model) to help with reversing, too. It’s worth noting that, thanks to the small rear windows and large C-pillars, that rearwards visibility isn’t nearly as good as the view out the front.

The suspension is a bit on the firm side, but it’s acceptable around town and only rough roads cause the car to disturb those inside. In corners, there’s plenty of grip from the relatively skinny tyres, however the 500 isn’t the most exciting city car to drive. It’s safe, easy and predictable, but the steering doesn’t have much feedback and there’s plenty of body lean in corners.

Unfortunately, the gearshift could be a bit better – it’s not as smooth that of a Mazda2 or MINI, and while it’s easy enough to find the right gear, selecting reverse can be a bit tricky.

Fiat 500 petrol engines

The 1.2-litre engine doesn't make the 500 especially fun to drive, and it's rather sluggish to accelerate from 0-62mph. It is cheap to buy, though, and in the real world should be cheap to run – despite the average looking official fuel-economy figures.

With 69bhp, the 1.0-litre petrol engine found in the Mild Hybrid gets the 500 from 0-62mph in 13.8 seconds. It needs plenty of revs, but feels a bit less strained than the 1.2-litre, even if it isn't especially refined. It's at its best in town, but can struggle on faster roads.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
i20
Deals
9 Apr 2021

Best new car deals 2021

UK road tax rules for 2021 explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Tips and advice
8 Apr 2021

UK road tax rules for 2021 explained

New 2021 Porsche Macan nearing production
2021 Porsche Macan SUV front 3/4 static
Porsche Macan
7 Apr 2021

New 2021 Porsche Macan nearing production

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Tips and advice
28 Dec 2020

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Best cars
24 Dec 2020

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks